Thinning on Diamond Grove prep day

They are getting the equipment in position to thin 110 acres on the Diamond Grove place. This was my first forest. I feel very strongly about all my forest units, but his one is special as the first. When I got it, I could not even see the trees over the tops of the grass and brambles. I worried about that. Since I was inexperienced in forestry, I was afraid I bought some unproductive land. (BTW, if you are looking to buy rural land and hear it described as “sportsman’s paradise” it won’t be good for anything else.)

But the place is good for growing trees and it is now ready for its first thinning.
Kathryn-Kirk McAden is doing the job. I trust him and his crews. They did very good jobs on our other places. My conditions special but not very unusual. I want it thinned to 80 basal area with paths cut along the stream management zones, so that we can more easily burn when the time comes. I asked the loggers to be very careful with the SMZs. These are some of my favorite places. If practical, I would like them to take out some of the big loblolly in the SMZ so that that it can transition to hardwood, as it is already doing. “If practical” means those they can get up w/o tearing up the soil of much impacting other trees.

They will also be especially careful around the wildflower meadows. This is another reason to trust Kirk. He is the one who planted those with the Southeastern pollinator flowers and warm season grasses, so he knows where they are and why they are important.
We are clear cutting 3.5 acres of damp (but not SMZ) land near Diamond Grove Road. I asked to leave a small “beauty strip” along the road, so it looks better. Loblolly does not grow well in that damp place and it has become a mess of brambles, invasive vines and multiflora rose. Better to start over with bald cypress, which I will do next spring, maybe a few tupelo and swamp white oak. Not sure yet. I think I will plant 8×10 or 544 trees per acre. I am not sure about silviculture for cypress in Virginia, so I have the added joy of learning from experience.

It will also be interesting to see changes in water patterns. When you thin, more water flows into the streams and dew ponds. It can make a significant difference. The amphibian population will rise next season.

I am going to go down tomorrow to look around and “consult.”

We didn’t cut anything last year, and I do not have any plans to cut again until 2022, so I want to enjoy this experience.

After the cut, I want to do an under story burn of most of the acreage. Probably in February, just before I plant the cypress.

All the pictures are from my files, i.e. not taken currently. My first picture is beech in the SMZ. I would not want those impacted by the logging. Next is one of the meadows, followed by the loblolly. The woods is way too dark. Thinning will make it healthier and more wildlife friendly. Penultimate picture show Diamond Grove Road when the bridge washed out. It does not flood that much every year, but every few years water gets about to where the road is closed. That explains why cypress are better below that. Last is the planning map I made last year.