Repressed Stand Thinning

This Winter we were fortunate to spend a week on Quilcene Bay improving a residential stand. The morning view of Mt. Constance looming behind the bay stands out as a seasonal highlight. Conor spent a day with the landowners walking through the trees and setting goals to improve the health and aesthetic value of the stand. Work began with the removal of a dozen or so mid-sized Alders to allow for some more light to reach a Norway Maple. Next we entered the canopy to assess the health of the larger trees and prune back hazardous limbs and dead wood.

Only one of the trees we inspected proved hazardous enough to warrant removal—a large Big Leaf Maple with three dominant leaders and a considerable amount of rot at their attachment points. In order to work the tree safely Conor had to climb an adjacent Silver Fir and set an anchor above the Maple to protect himself from the possibility of limb failure. He used a combination of spurs and top rope to move through the tree safely and efficiently. Despite the backup anchor it was still a little unnerving to see water pour out of the hollow pockets in the big wood as he made his cuts.

Rigging posed another set of challenges and compelled us to employ a few techniques that we aren’t often able to use. We speedlined all of the large branches into into a wood chip pile across the driveway from the tree. Speedlining is an excellent way to move big wood considerable distances minimizing time and effort. With one anchor in the tree and the other on the ground the system works much like a zipline—materials are attached to the line with a carabiner and gravity brings them to a carefully positioned ground anchor. We then verticle speedlined sections of the trunk down to the base of the tree to eliminate the possibility of rolling logs. This system works similarly, however, the rigging line runs from just below the section being cut to the base limiting movement when the log hits the ground. Speedline rigs are infinitely helpful when it comes to moving big wood in tight quarters. We finished off the week in the orchard fine pruning apple trees and a couple of Japanese Maples. To round out the trip we headed for the nearest tideland to shuck a few oysters on our way home.

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