Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fallen Tree on the Barrens

I have a standing rule that prohibits trees from falling on the barrens.  I was dismayed to discover that one tree was apparently challenging my authority.  The collection of branches looked to be the beginning of a brush pile, but where did it all come from?

There’s the source.  The branches were once the top of this Tuliptree.  The living portion of the tree was apparently concealing a dead top.  Tall isolated trees are often the recipients of lightning strikes.  That may have caused the death of this tree top.

The surprising thing is the distance the top traveled from tree to clearing.    If the top had just tipped and come straight down it would have remained in the cedar thicket.  Sometimes I believe the trees are conspiring to give me more work.  Maybe they just crave attention.

The brittle branches appear to have shattered on impact.  Pieces are scattered in a circle 75 feet across.  This is a significant portion of this small barren opening.

The branches would naturally decompose if left in place and in most areas I wouldn’t do more than remove the larger pieces.  These branches managed to cover an area in which I earlier found an abandoned trap-door spider burrow.  I’m hoping to find an active burrow and see the spider, but it would be impossible to conduct a search with all of the branches in the way.  This is also an area that has a good population of Leavenworthia uniflora.  In order to avoid causing soil compaction or otherwise causing damage to the Leavenworthia, I’ll come out this winter when the ground if frozen and remove the branches.

The decision of whether or not to remove fallen branches is not made arbitrarily.  My management efforts are intended to produce specific results.  Every time I cut a tree, move a branch or pull a weed, I ask myself if the result of that action will be a positive step towards achieving my management goals. If the answer is anything but yes, I’ll just wait to see how things develop.

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