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Old 10-22-2004, 06:41 PM   #1
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Question Thinning trees

My large lot has matured to the point that there's no sunlight getting to the ground.

Except for the smaller hemlocks, the shrubs that used to grow in the understory have died off, and I've lost some privacy as a result.

Cutting down the trees (again, mostly hemlock) has gotten difficult, as the branches catch in the other hemlocks and the tree hangs up. I don't want to deal with "hanging trees" any more -- it's a hazard.

I've had some luck in the past "girdling" tree trunks, but I'm wondering if there isn't a faster, neater way to leave a few dead trees standing for the woodpeckers. (A bird feeder, as it were).

Any suggestions?
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Old 10-23-2004, 07:57 AM   #2
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Question Trees

I am assuming you are not on the waterfront and violating the shore land protection act?

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Old 10-25-2004, 09:37 PM   #3
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Default Good question, and I did some checking...

Fifty years ago, every marketable tree on our shorefront lot was cut down by a local treecutter against our wishes. (Mostly white pine).

The resulting woods has grown up since, and consists mostly of non-marketable hemlock, which provides a poor needle-thatch on the ground against wake-erosion and a poor upper story under which to grow an understory of smaller trees (except more hemlocks). The few struggling little deciduous trees die off from excessive shade. Even a few mature white pines (which I planted) are dying from sun-crowding.

It appears I am in compliance; in fact, the state encourages leaving standing "snags", which was my intent. Basal area of just ten of my remaining "monster" hemlocks is probably 50% of all the trees on the lot.

The rule is hopeless anyway. Few owners -- lately -- stay 20 years, and can always blame the previous owner(s) for non-compliance. Here's what I found:

"(A) Not more than a maximum of 50 percent of the basal area of trees, and a maximum of 50 percent of the total number of saplings shall be removed for any purpose in a 20-year period. A healthy, well-distributed stand of trees, saplings, shrubs and ground covers and their living, undamaged root systems shall be left in place."

The contractors of a local realtor/developer have already removed over 2/3rds of all the trees on a neighboring lot -- which had no previous structure. Since they share their new neighbor's drainfield (and new well), still more trees were removed on that adjacent lot to build the new shared drainfield, and to enable heavy machinery in to drill the well -- at the shoreline. (The new house's foundation is set in the old drainfield).

I'm really a very small player in this shoreland protection business, and have always thinned trees -- mostly for firewood. It's just that the woods have grown faster than I can cut.

Now I look to create a "healthy, well-distributed stand of trees, saplings, shrubs, and ground covers" and to leave the root systems in place as usual. Just how to do it (now) is the problem.
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