Thursday, January 04, 2007


It is strangely quiet outside now, at 7 pm. Usually in the winter 7 pm is always a quiet time, but last night it was not. The air was ringing with the whining, humming sound of logging equipment. It went on for over 24 hours straight; loggers have so much invested in their equipment that when they get a good sale they can't afford to run fewer hours.

A parcel of land that includes a forty acre square that is kitty corner from ours on the southeast is being logged. When all is said and done, part of the view across my swamp will be altered considerably. And 120 acres will be trampled, cut over, and left to new succession. I should not be so concerned; it's just third or fourth growth aspen, which is regularly cut on a thirty year rotation around here. It will grow back, and ruffed grouse thrive in early succession aspen forest. The Hermit even earns his paycheck now encouraging land managers to manage for early succession aspen for ruffed grouse. It's what a certain group of hunters want.

I'm all for the local person making a living off logging. However, I can't help but think this sale-driven model of forestry is short sighted and dangerous. Far too much of the public forest land around here is managed for aspen, cut on a thirty year rotation, at the cost of diverse forest habitat. Sure, a few species might thrive in early growth aspen, but so many others, which are declining in numbers, require a mixed hardwood/conifer landscape with varying degrees of maturity. The county administers the majority of forest lands around here, most of it tax-forfeited since the 1930's, when people gave up on this area as farm land. But the county, in my opinion, lacks vision in managing this valuable resource; if it benefits a logger in the short term, it's good business. Never mind that other low impact logging models have shown good promise elsewhere.

Where is this timber going? Minnesota's timber industry has seen a slump as of late, so most likely it will go to foreign-owned mills in Duluth and Cloquet to be made into specialty high-gloss magazine paper. Great. Just what we need to see more of!

I knew this was coming. The logger who is doing the work stopped by a couple months ago, to ask if we would be willing to sell an access easement across the southern boundary of our land. This would have meant clearing at least a 15' wide road across high land, plus filling in that width of wetland 500' across, not to mention us having to listen to logging trucks driving across it. That in itself meant no thanks, but I detected a certain unscrupulousness on the part of the logger. He never gave us a name or phone number where he could be contacted with questions. Furthermore, he said that if we refuse, he could get the county to force an access across our property. Never mind that he had reasonable access from a county forest road to the south. I think his motive was to log the land, then sell it for deer hunting property "with deeded access". If he wasn't willing to be up front with us about this, then no thanks.

The management of the land, our only and greatest resource, is left to people like this.

Oh well, it's just trees. If there are any rare species there, they will most likely be driven onto our land. More birds for me!


Anonymous said...

Do you think the loss of vegetation also contributes to the Global warming we are experiencing? I live near Green Bay Wis and today it was 48 degrees at 7am. Scary huh? We need to plant more trees not take them down. One of my sayings is: 'He who plants trees loves others' Stick to your guns, don't let them cross your land. Make them work for their "rape"
MAW - mother of living on the edge

Anonymous said...

Glad the quiet has crept back in.

Deb said...

Anonymous- in a temporary way, yes. I think the growth that replaces it takes over the CO2 absorbing function in a few years. But we do need to rethink how we use our forests, and manage for generations to come, not just the profit of some logger today. We are losing biodiversity at a tremendous rate, and some songbird populations are declining at alarming rates.

FC- It's quiet tonight too. But this morning when I was driving the kids to school, there were four logging trucks blocking the entire road three miles south of my place. I had to back up and turn around, take the long way out,and the kids ended up late for school. I thought about phoning in a complaint to the sheriff, but around here the loggers' voice carries a lot more weight than mine.

Anonymous said...

Oooooh the nerve of that man to make a threat like that!!!!! You have more patience than me. He would have walked away from my door with more than an earfull.

PJ said...

I feel the bottom $ issue is killing this world- period. Love your woodpecker friends that came for a visit!..and the cats? Well, they know what life is about!

GreenmanTim said...

Unscrupulous loggers are one of many banes of their profession. If you want an ecologically oriented Forester who will put the woodlands ahead of personal gain, try the Forest Guild. A Guild Forester will walk away from the kind of unethical practices you describe the logger employing, and will also "out" the timber beasts.

You can find out more at