Another beautiful day gave me the perfect excuse to work on my stay fit during winter plan. I’ve been wanting to hike the area next to us that was recently logged. It would’ve been smarter if I’d gone while the ground was still frozen, but I was filled with desire, and it was fifty degrees with sunshine.
The state had a “do not enter” tape stretched across the trail head, so rather than violate the law, I took a different path to the trail. The trail we’ve been hiking and skiing on for thirty five years is obliterated, in its place is a new road bed that’s wide enough for heavy equipment to drive on. This new terrain road will serve as a corridor for the extensive logging the state will conduct until this area is completely logged out.
I wanted to walk the entire area where the recent logging took place, and it was impossibly muddy. The disturbed soil is in the process of eroding down the face of the ridge system where this new road is situated, and it was almost impossible to find firm ground to walk on.
I was able to see an overview, and it looks like they’ve left a handful of older trees as seed stock and bulldozed the space in between to remove all of the “undesirable” species.
Poplar, iron wood, sassafras, maple, ash, and beach are reduced to the point of non existence, in favor of white and red oak. The money trees.
I also observed a modicum of erosion control on the wide road they’ve built. The steep hill sides, stripped of most trees, had none, and this soil is bleeding down into the creek beds at the bottom of the ravines.
This is what an industrial tree farm looks like. The new focus is to maximize profit at the expense of diversity.
I laboriously picked my way along the edge of this new road until I came to the clearing they’re using to yard the logs. There are several huge piles of cutoffs where they trimmed the logs and loaded them onto the trucks we’re seeing everywhere on our county roads.
This area was logged at least once during my tenure, but that was using the old guide lines that were in place form the beginning.
There’s no mistaking what we’re seeing now is a complete sea change. The new plan is a radical departure from all of the management practices I’ve ever seen in our forests.
As part of my fitness plan I intend to hike this area and track the consequence of the IDNR’s new plan.
I’ll also spend as much time as I can hiking the areas that haven’t been ruined, and breath in the last sight of what was once the greatest unspoiled expanse of state forest land in the Midwest.