Tom's Blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Burning piles of aspen logs

We continue our work getting the East Basin ready for late fall planting. The trees from the large grove of aspen that were killed by girdling were cut in early September and stacked in large piles. Yesterday we started these piles on fire, using drip torch fuel as an accelerant.

We had a large crew: 4 people from the contractor Michler and Brown, 5 of our own people, plus Michael Vahldieck as a very welcome volunteer! Michler/Brown people did mostly chain saw work, recutting stumps, cutting some remaining logs, and helping start and tend the burn piles.

Once these piles were burning we spent the rest of the day picking up all the loose wood lying around and throwing it on the piles. The goal was to get as much wood as possible off the ground so that planted seeds will find good homes to grow in.

Aspen is often called "gopher wood", because it burns up so fast that you must keep going back for more. True to form, by the end of the day, the piles had really shrunk, and by this morning they were down to smoldering coals. Paul Michler and Amanda spent the morning consolidating the piles, moving partially unburned wood into the coals.

Once the piles have cooled down, we will return with a leaf blower and get rid of the ash so that bare soil is exposed. When we plant the prairie, we will make sure that each burn scar is well planted.


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