Bulldoze it!

Ok, let me explain. So Justin and I are going through the last patch of forest that we're flagging invasive trees in, when suddenly we turn around and realize we just flagged EVERY TREE IN THE FOREST. Not only that, but the understory is composed mainly of Serissia, Bush Honeysuckle, and Johnston Grass, all invasive species. I slowly realize that this forest is so far gone, so broken, that the only way to fix it is to bulldoze the thing and start over. We head back to the office and have something along the lines of the following conversation:

Justin: John, we have to talk.
Andon: You sent us into a warzone man!
John: Whaddaya mean?
Andon: We're basically flagging every tree in that forest.
Justin: Yeah, I'd say its about 95% lacebark. (one of the elms we're flagging) We're thinking you're gonna have to doze it.
John: Is it that bad?
Andon: Yeah, its really bad. Not only are the trees bad, but even the understory is all serrisia and Honeysuckle. Doze it or burn it, but there's no way you're gonna go in there and cut all that down individually.
John: Whaddaya mean burn it?
Andon: You know, burn it. What, you can't do prescribed burns on a forest here?
(Perplexed looks from both of them)
John: Nah, if that fire gets up in the tree canopy, it'll just be a disaster. Ya can't control it up there. You could cut it and then burn it, but thats it.
Andon: Ok, well doze it then.
John: Its really that bad?
Justin: Oh yeah, its that bad.
Andon: Its a warzone I'm tellin' ya!

After we convinced John that it was that bad, and I learned about the limits of prescribed burning in an urban setting, we wen't back out. Justin kept flagging everything ever, and I tried to rope off the area that we think needs to be bulldozed. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Of course, there were areas where it was simple to tell where the invasion came in, but other areas had some good native trees mixed in with all the bad, and making the decision of at what point to give up on a forest was tough! The main problem was that there were two
areas that were truly bad enough to be dozed, but only one of them was directly accessible.

To get to the other one, you had to go through a portion of forest that was pretty bad, but perhaps salvageable. There were a bunch of Ozark Orange trees, which are these really awesome trees with these brain like fruits, and also prone to spiking you with their thorns if you happen to snap a branch back. One of them hit me on the arm and drew blood! It felt like I was getting a shot cuz it was right on my shoulder. Anyway, they're an awesome tree and I made it my goal to save as many of them as possible. I'm pretty sure I only left one or two in the zone, and when John came out in the field said they could probably avoid those with the bulldozer, as long as Bruce is driving it. I've been saying all week that a bulldozer is not a scalpel, meaning that you cant have it working its way into tight corners, but if there's anyone who can get surgical with a bulldozer its Bruce.

When John joined us in the field, he agreed with us that the first area, with five to ten year old trees, should be bulldozed, but proceeded to give us a little lesson on the limitations of bulldozing. For the second zone, which had more like twenty or thirty year old trees, he said bulldozing would just create more of a problem with disposal of the stuff you take out. We'll probably end up using some type of selective cutting in that area, but we don't know what to do with the wood and brush. Robert, Bruce's summer hire and a really quiet kid, had the idea of using it for mulch, which I rather like. Over the next few days, we'll come up with a plan for what to do in that area.

Also, I had another one of those moments today, where I'm like "Dude, I'm making management reccomendations that will be used on a real forest!!!" Awesomeness.

1 comment:

Beau Proctor said...

That’s just too bad, Andon! Invasive tree species are already bad enough, but 95% of the forest? That’s just a nightmare! So how did you go about bulldozing the forest? And whatever happened to the native trees? Were you able to work around them?