Pruning and Thinning
Pruning and Thinning
In addition to the reduction of the risk of wildfire, P&T has other advantages.
Actually, more land becomes available.
Consider a single tree. Normally it has branches on its trunk all the way down to the ground. They may be dead, but they are there. Effectively, they occupy as big an area as the crown, say 100 sq ft.
After it is pruned, and all small trees removed from the area, it will occupy only approx 1 sq ft, the size of the trunk at the ground. Usually, we find there at the base of the tree an accumulation of needles and windfall branches and twigs. Normally, this accumulation can be burnt where it is, but if pruning has released sap that has run down the trunk, that in itself is a fire hazard.
In this area, it is better to pull the branches away from the trunk (about 1’) so that when they are lighted they will not catch the resin on fire. This is not a major problem, but is one that should be borne in mind.
After the pine needles are burnt, together with all the other slash near by, there is presented to you, free of charge, 99 sq ft of area. The wind, now being permitted to scatter the needles as they fall, will prevent the accumulation of that pile of mulch in the future.
In addition, you will notice that wild turkeys can now get under the pruned piñon trees to scratch for nuts, thus scattering the needles as they fall.
You will note also, that you yourself, can now get under the tree and enjoy this new free space. (Remember Jane Goodall, in trying to account for her overall good health; “I have known the peace of the forest.”)
Slowly, other vegetation will start to grow under the tree. Weeds (forbs), perhaps the first few years, but eventually grass. Most of the grass that spreads naturally is the local, natural wild-grasses that have been here for thousands of years. Eventually, all low plants are displaced by tall plants – the wilderness will take over. Unless of course, a new generation holds it back.
This photo illustrates a well-pruned area. There was some thinning, as you can see by the stumps to the right. The branch scars on the trees show how much brushy stuff was cut away. All of the slash from this P&T operation was piled where you see the slash fire. It looks like the fire is under some branches, but it is not. We like to have a 30’ dia clear area for burning, with no overhanging branches. Notice also that the area is fairly free of branches. I like to rake up even the smallest stuff and pick it up with a fork and burn it.
For an analysis of the overall problem of Forest Management:
See Jack’s Essay
Photos by Jack