The Mystery – (and it is a sad one) – As shared in earlier posts, the Hyla Woods forests are experiencing a much accelerated rate of trees dying. Dead trees are an important part of a healthy forest, and we sometimes help things along by girdling trees to create snags. But in the past two years things have changed; once healthy and vibrant trees are dying – old ones, middle aged ones, and young ones. We’re not alone, and it seems that our mixed aged, mixed species forests are having less problems than the more monocultural forests nearby. When we ask the knowledgeable “..ologists” for their thoughts on the causes, we are given a one word answer – drought. Our Hyla Woods team thinks that the situation may be more complex than that; are we certain that the cause is drought? If it is drought, is there a chance that drought is the trigger, but that the causes might be more complex – soils, seed, disease, insects….?
While we can rise above the discovery that more 30 year old fir have died in some area of the forest, we experienced serious sadness when we discovered that a number of large, old, beautiful cedars in the wildest corner of Mt. Richmond Forest had no remaining green. The Red cedar on our “avenue of the giants” are taking on a new kind of red.
The Dilemma – How should we respond to these dead cedars? They have beautiful wood in them which we could put to good use. On the other hand, our forests are short on large, dead, downed wood that supports more life than the living tree ever did. Do the right thing? But what is the “right thing”?
A Decision – Team Hyla convened around the table and wrestled with the options. Our decision is that the best approach for us is to avoid the simplistic, “either-or” constraints and to instead try a compromise. Some of the dead cedar has been left on the forest floor where it is adding to the forest’s health. The rest of the wood from these recent casualties has been felled, bucked, and skidded to the landing where it awaits a ride from the tree taxi up to the mill. An up side of the increased mortality is that there seems to be enough dead wood to meet both goals – economic and ecological.
….And About That Bathroom – It seems fitting that at the same time as we’ve been wrestling with dead cedar and related decisions, these photos came in from a happy customer who gave one of our large, old, windthrown cedars a second life.
…and so the cycle continues – but let’s keep digging into the mystery; the forest challenges us to dig deeper.