Tom's Blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A lot of wood from the East Basin

I have discussed in some earlier blogs the restoration work we are carrying out on what we are calling the East Basin. This is a 4 acre basin that faces south and southwest and was probably originally a prairie remnant. We cleared all of the woody invasives from this area last winter and this spring and early summer we treated all the invasive resprouts with herbicide. As the photo shows, this area, brown in the photo, remains mostly free of vegetation. It contrasts strikingly with the lush green of the surrounding land.

Over the years since it had been a prairie remnant, this land had been invaded by a large number of trees, mostly elms, cherries, black oak, and aspen. We left an open-grown black oak but removed all the rest of the trees, except for the aspen which have been girdled and will be cut once they are dead.

As one might imagine, there was a lot of wood here. Some of it was of saw log size, and a neighbor brought in a portable sawmill to deal with that. The rest of the wood was suitable for fire wood, and another neighbor, who sells firewood, has done all the hard work of cutting and splitting the wood. Although he is not finished, he has made a lot of progress, as the other photo shows.

When one begins a restoration such as this, the first thing that must be done is to figure out how the wood is going to be removed. Big trees were being felled, and it is no simple task to get the wood out. In some ways, the huge snow year was a help, since we did not have to worry about chewing up the countryside with log-moving equipment. On the other hand, the snow was at times so deep that reaching the top of the hill with a truck was virtually impossible. But careful planning and perseverance prevailed, and we are now fairly well on top of the situation.

Our plan is to plant this whole basin with a good mix of prairie species sometime in November. As the top photo shows, this land is pretty bare, so we don't have to worry much about getting the seeds to the ground. We will wait for frozen ground, and hopefully some light snow which will make it easier for our volunteer group to keep track of where the seed is being planted.

Come back in three years and see how it looks!


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