Ranch Management by Jack Rodgers
Ranch Management by Jack Rodgers
Jackson Rodgers has been the driving force behind our forest management projects for thirty plus years. I will be working closely with my brother to post his forest philosophies in the coming weeks. Please, look here for updates, from Jack and Brian.
Central Meadow at Las Tusas Ranch.
We have three main goals at Las Tusas in forest management:
1. Protect it from destruction.
2. Harvest whatever it produces.
What we see as detrimental to the land:
What does healthy land produce?
1. Forest products.
3. Recreation sites.
Alaska Chain-mill mounted on a Stilh .052 saw-head.
What forest products do we harvest?
3. Cedar Posts
4. Ornamental Trees and shrubs
5. Vigas; peeled logs used for cabin rafters.
This lumber was created with our Alaska chainsaw mill. The beauty of the Alaska mill is its portability, with a minor pitfall in its complicated setup. The first cut on the log is the most difficult. Guide rails are attached to the log and the chain-mill slides along making the first straight edge to which all other cuts will parallel. I wish I had more pictures of this mill in action. However, milling is a two man operation and instead of holding a camera I was helping guide the mill down the rails, while Jackson ran the smart end of the device. In this image you can see that we have left the trimming of the edges until we got the two inch thick planks out of the forest.
We like wide boards! These planks are twenty-seven-plus inches wide.
What are the risks from wildfire in the Southwest? Great.
Wildfire came to within ½ mile of this ranch in 2000, it has come close in other years, as well. We have had several small ground fires on the ranch, however our clean forest has not allowed the fire to travel up to the treetops. By keeping the trees pruned and thinned we have removed most of the ladder fuel.
Protection from wildfire – vital.
How do we protect?
Any fire has three requirements:
2. Oxygen (air).
Jackson felling Ponderosa pine in 2003.
We have burned many piles of slash on the ranch, the results of pruning and thinning.
The heat from the slash burning is of great concern, as it can cause the usually dry forests to to become even drier, turning the pine needles in the live trees brown, creating a worse condition that we were trying to prevent.
Regarding Heat: We have control over when we burn. We do not burn in August [unless we have had a good soaking rain].
The heat from a slash fire is fierce. I do not build a fire bigger than a 6’ circle, and do not pile slash higher than 2’. Jack builds bigger fires – 12’ circles and slash piles 4’ high. Of course he is younger than I am, and able to work harder to keep the fire under control. Both of us have additional slash nearby that we can put on our fires as they burn down.
Regarding Air: We try not burn under windy conditions. We listen to the Weather Person.
Henry Rodgers watching a slash pile burn. This area is piñon, juniper and cedar mostly with a few ponderosa pines here and there.
Regarding Fuel: How do we control Fuel?
By Pruning and Thinning.
Actually, pruning and thinning is only the first step. It doesn’t remove combustibles. It only enables us to do so.
Branches and trees removed by Pruning &Thinning are called ‘slash’.
How do we remove slash?
1. Burning. 2. Chipping. 3. Reducing and placing in arroyos.
Burning – We make dozens of small piles of slash (Green branches with pine needles) Depending on the weather the piles will compact while drying, we then light the smaller pile with a squirt of diesel fuel.
Chipping is becoming a popular method of slash removal. Unfortunately, we do not own a wood chipper. Thus, we are not familiar with the pros and cons of chipping.
Reducing – Slash is fluffy. The solution to this problem is to remove the sub-branches from the main branches so that the whole can become compacted as it is laid into the various arroyos. A whole tree can thus be reduced to a few cubic feet if it is so treated. It is labor intensive, but it is a good method.