Blowdown Recovery >>

Blowdown on Maple Mountain

Last winter we experienced a severe wind storm that blew down hundreds of trees in the community forest.

A plan was put forward by the Municipality to salvage some of these trees to generate logging revenue and reduce the risk of forest fires and bug infestations.

This plan is currently being executed on three of our local mountains.

Recently, we went to visit the 4 western Stoney Hill blowdown recovery sites to see the work sites while the trees were still on the ground.

Now that the roads and skid paths are built and most of the trees have been cut - we can see how many live healthy trees needed to be cut to safely remove blowdown from the forest.

Healthy trees have been cut for the following reasons:

  • they were too close to the edge of the expanded logging road
  • they needed to cut an area for loading the trucks
  • they needed to cut a skid path to get at the fallen trees and drag them to the sorting areas
  • trees that are too close to blowdown trees may need to be extracted to get at the targeted tree

The problem is how to get the fallen trees out of the forest and to the logging truck without removing many live trees

On Stoney Hill - in most cases -  you needed to cut down many live trees for every blowdown tree removed from the forest. Each cut block will be different depending on ease of access. Recently we walked two of the interior cut blocks on Stoney Hill and counted stumps. In total, we counted 324 stumps in two cut blocks and identified 129 as blowdown, root rot or leaners. It was close to 3 live trees for every blowdown tree.  

The video above shows one of the Stoney Hill blowdown areas and you can see that almost all the trees within the cut block have been fallen.

This is the equipment being used to remove the trees

The reality of this approach to blowdown recovery is that it can cause more damage than it remedies. Some experts argue that It would be easier to just drop the trees and remove the branches (the real fire hazard) The fallen trees will become moss covered and retain water during periods of drought.  

Older moss covered blowdown trees on Mt. Tzouhalem. Note the forest floor is not dried out due to a break in the canopy.

Some experts argue that you could drop the trees and use cables to drag them out of the forest avoiding the destruction of the skid paths.

Another problem with the approach used on Stoney Hill is that it leaves many flammable branches and treetops on the forest floor - it doesn't look like any of the debris was removed. Is this creating a worse fire hazard than just leaving the trees?

Branches & treetops left on the forest floor

Now that the canopy has been opened and light is reaching the forest floor, will these patch clear-cuts fill with broom, like the older cuts on Stoney Hill?

Large older clear-cut across the road from the Stoney Hill blowdown recovery site - filled with Broom

Is this approach profitable? Would it be more profitable for the community to have protected this area and applied for carbon credits?

We should be using the Stoney Hill logging as a learning experience.