Monday, July 18, 2011

Clear Cutting

About two weeks ago, a few acres of hardwood forest near my parents' house was logged. The loggers cleared a path through the barns behind the house and through another section of forest, moved in a lot of big equipment, and clear cut the patch of woods. I saw the result when I visited my parents last weekend. It was an interesting experience. The site seemed so much smaller after it was cut. I could walk to and through it much more easily.

I used to play in those woods. I would go through the pine woods near our house, then through that little hardwood forest to a creek and a ravine. I would climb up the sides if the ravine, getting incredibly muddy, and I would play in the creek.

Thankfully the ravine and the creek were not affected. My favorite trees on the edge of the ravine, the ones with the trunk hanging over thin air with roots clinging to the side of the ravine, are still there. It is now much easier to get to those two sites, and the nature preserve near them.

I am actually not upset by the logging. I know that the forest used to be pasture land. It was all cut when the settlers moved in, and then was farmed until about a hundred years ago, when the pasture land was abandoned and the forest grew back. I counted the growth rings of two different trees. They were over a hundred years old. I did not guess that before. I had thought that the forest had been logged maybe 50 years ago, but now I know that it had probably been growing wild since the farm was abandoned.

I was more upset by the litter they left. In another hundred years the forest will be back as it was, assuming that they do not develop it or plant pine trees. But the plastic trash, the wrappers and bottles and containers of motor oil, will still be there.

The pine woods between my parents' house and this patch of woods were cut about a decade ago, and since then they have been impassible, a mess of bushes and briars and poison ivy. But now the pine trees are almost tall enough to shade the ground and kill the undergrowth, so I should be able to walk through them soon.

I really liked those pine woods. I remember them as cool and clean and neat; the straight rows of pines were kind of like pillars in an old cathedral. Of course those pines are not native to the area, and not really good habitat for anything, but I did not know that when I was a little child. When the new pines grow up, I will probably enjoy them as well, if for no other reason than good memories.

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