Forest management currently at Las Tusas Ranch
Here is an example of erosion control.
When we arrived on the land in 1971, this was an impassable gully,
now we see grass growing in the new topsoil, collected by simple rock and brush dams.
Here we see one of the many hand-built roads on the ranch.
Here is an example of a properly cleaned burned slash pile.
During the Spring of 2004 we had a small ground fire in an area we thinned many years ago.
Although the fire stayed on the ground, the intense heat from the burning pine needles
and scrub oak damaged many of the Ponderosa Pines fatally.
We have learned from this experience that thinning alone is not enough.
This forest was overgrown with too many small trees for years, creating a thick layer
of pine needles which caught fire.
Nowadays, we rake pine needles into the slash piles and burn much of the fuel from small areas.
The idea is that the if the pine needles do catch fire, there are fuel breaks on the ground as well as between trees.
As you can see, the ground in this area is now sterilized.
The light colored substance on the ground is ash.
Once we remove the trees killed by this fire, future fire hazard is greatly reduced.
This Summer (2004) Jackson planted several types of grass in this area.
Blessed with a wet Summer the grass is thriving.
I will post an image of the restored forest floor, as soon as I can.
The ranch has one small river on its northern border.
In the image above from the Summer of 2003, a very dry year, beaver dams slowed
the trickle of water which was the Sapello River, and created a pond-like feel to an
otherwise drought ridden area of the southwest.
Here we see one beaver dam on the Sapello River.
Muskrats tookover dam repair duty after the beavers were removed.
We are not sure who took the beavers away.
Frequent visits to the river by Brian, while on morning runs, determined that indeed
the beavers were out and the muskrats had moved in.
The environment is continually changing
With the Spring of 2004, the three year drought is apparently over.
We had record rainfalls all Summer, as the image above shows.
The beaver dams were washed down the river and the resulting riverbed is now full of clear water.
From this view, water levels are higher than when the beavers had the river backed up with dams.
Daddo adds: Brian, where is the evidence that muskrats took over? Jack and I followed the progress of these dams very closely. We never saw any evidence that muskrats were involved. We never saw the beavers either, but Brenda Begin and her boys said they saw some.