Our management strategy is to observe our land and work with it to enhance
its own natural productivity, which is high. We aim for mixed species, uneven-aged
stands of trees. Some areas are naturally predisposed to grow oak or madrone,
some fir or pine. This is taken into consideration as we formulate our management
plan for that specific area. We walk an area many times and consider all factors
before we begin physical work in that location. Often we change our original
plan once we begin our field work, since “leave” trees can be damaged or we notice necessary wildlife habitat. We practice a form of natural selection. We
never take out a genetically superior tree unless it has some type of disease or defect or is obviously declining in health.
We have developed our work into a three-phase program. We begin by walking
and marking trees to be removed, as well as any special trees which must be retained, during the first entry into an
area. Initially, we take out the obviously injured, deformed, diseased, bug-infested, or severely suppressed trees. Our land has a proclivity for Fir in most areas, so at times we remove some
decent saw logs. Many times we reach a hardwood patch that fills the firewood
bins and provides an excess to sell. The second entry to an area is normally
made to mark and take out residual damage and thin out the stand- without denuding such an area that you burn and/or shock
the stand in the summer sun. Once the trees have begun to respond to the thinning
procedure, a third entry can be made.
We mark trees to be taken out in order to release a particular tree,
remove an overtopped tree, remove one that doesn’t look healthy, or at minimum that appears to be susceptible to
insects or disease, and in order to provide acceptable spacing for the remaining trees. Basically, by the time you get
to a third entry, you should have had time to observe the response to your previous entries.
If you try to buck nature you aren’t going to make much headway, so you need to be
constantly watching, comparing and analyzing the situation and the areas response to your
work, in order to find the right solution to managing the area. It becomes
fairly obvious what Nature wants to do, which trees are going to respond, and which trees are never going to be worth anything.
Just remember that when you remove some of the overstock, the remaining trees will really
appreciate the extra nutrients, water and space. We used to be afraid to get aggressive in our approach, but after
tours and visits to other forest lands and seeing what neglect and apathy can do, we decided that doing something is better
than doing nothing.