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Canopy Clearing

Back in December we started a project, while going through chainsaw training with the Cape Cod National Seashore, thinning the forest in front of our house. Ostensibly  the reason behind the exercise was to thin the trees to the point where there wasn’t much canopy contact between pines. Doing that reduces the threat of a wildfire moving through the canopy of the forest.

Each pile represents between two and four trees.  When we started, attempting to run through the forest would have ended with a concussion, now the trees are thin enough to sprint though. If you're into that sort of thing.

Each pile represents between two and four trees. When we started, attempting to run through the forest would have ended with a concussion, now the trees are thin enough to sprint though. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Well, we’ve kept at it — on and off — for the past month and now we’re (unsurprisingly) running out of forest to thin. Each tree we felled we bucked into logs (unfortunately, Pitch Pine makes for poor fireplace wood) and limbed. Half of us stacked the resulting logs and branches into neat piles to burn later. I’ve tried to figure out how many trees we’ve cut down over the past few weeks (mostly while doing my shift hauling branches across the forest floor) but I’m not entirely happy with the accuracy of my guesses. At the very least, I can personally account for somewhere north of forty Pitch Pines. I’m not sure if my numbers are consistant with the rest of the crew, though.

If they are, then we’ve taken down upwards of three hundred trees. We’ve certainly cut down a lot, but that seems absurd.

Our boss went through the woods before us each day and marked somewhere in the neighborhood of forty trees for us to remove.

Our boss went through the woods before us each day and marked somewhere in the neighborhood of forty trees for us to remove. When we started, you couldn’t see the houses in the background from here.

If the weather holds, we’ll start burning those piles tomorrow. I’m not exactly sure the methods we’ll use to burn the (almost) innumerable enormous branch piles that are strewn around the forest floor, but I know that the process involves using leaf blowers to fan the flames and that those of us with beards have been told that its entirely possible they’ll be singed off by the heat involved.

I'm not the biggest fan of logging in the world, but this project does seem to have a point beyond simply cutting down trees. A crown fire would be devastating and clearing the forest like this is an "easy" way to prevent one from developing in this area (which happens to be near a few houses).

I’m not the biggest fan of logging in the world, but this project does seem to have a point beyond simply cutting down trees. A crown fire would be devastating and clearing the forest like this is an “easy” way to prevent one from developing in this area (which happens to be near a few houses).

For reference, here's a picture of one of the brush piles with one of my co-Americorps Members nearby. He's over six feet tall, and that isn't nearly the largest of the piles. I'm looking forward to burning them so very much.

For reference, here’s a picture of one of the brush piles with one of my co-Americorps Members nearby. He’s over six feet tall, and that isn’t nearly the largest of the piles. I’m looking forward to burning them so very much.

I’m not really a beard person, but I’m mildly concerned that my hair might suffer the same fate. We’ll see.

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