Justin Trails Work Weekends, 2009
This year, we embarked on a forest-wide clean-up, designed to promote the growth of healthy, hardwood trees throughout the property. We began this process in the most visible areas of the property, in order to improve the immediate feel of the resort and provide us locations in which to watch the slow, but gradual changes happening in the forest as we work throughout the upcoming years. We will be continuing the clean-up you are seeing in these areas throughout our woods, altering the “prescription” depending on what trees are there today, what is growing in the understory, and, what, historically, was there in the past. You may ask, “Why are we doing this?” The objective stems from the general idea that the local landscape, previous to and during the early years of farming was covered in a mosaic landscape of different kinds of vegetation. What we know from historic records is that open lands were in the valleys and broad hilltops, savanna on the narrow ridge tops and gentle slopes that receive sun throughout most of the day and oak-hickory woodlands and forests along the steeper slopes and protected coves and valleys. A savanna is a type of community characterized by large statuesque open-grown trees, and grasses and flowers and woodland is type of community that is characterized by tall, straight widely spaced trees.
Before farming, these communities were maintained through fire and were diverse with wild flowers and grasses, and fruit and nut bearing shrubs. During the early years of farming, these areas were used for pasture, and maintained by grazing animals, resulting in the eventual loss of the wild flowers, grasses, and shrubs.
Many of the trees from that time are still intact, leaving them our “old growth forest”, so to speak, and worth protecting and saving. Around them, we want to recreate a healthy forest community for present and future generations..
Nature’s Keeper, a small company run by a husband and wife team out of Blanchardville, WI, have been working with us to find harmony with what is today and what was. We know we can’t “go back”, but after 20 years of timber harvest that has left us with little for the future, we are looking to a new way of managing our woods. Our hope is to regenerate timber hardwoods like white, black, and red oak, and hickory and black cherry through a long-term plan that allows for these trees to grow successive generations into the future, allowing for a long-term sustainable harvest, rather than a one-shot deal typical of timber harvests of the past. It will take us a while to get there, but we’re all ready to try.
With the help of volunteers, look at what we’ve been able to get done already!
April 4 – 5 – On this early spring rainy weekend, a six hardy souls turned out to help Charles Ramseyer with tackling one gnarly area in the woodlands that we see every morning from our back door, as well as locating our first campground locations, officially allowing us to accept campers on the property. It was an exciting weekend. The weather cooperated with a near perfect rain, allowing for the numerous brush piles of un-burnable tops that we created to get burned into cinders. Also, a number of beautiful new benches were carved out of downed logs next to #4 basket on the Big Brother Disc Golf Course, thanks to Charles and his creativity.
April 25 – 26 – We had yet again another rainy Saturday, turning all of us into ducks that not only quacked but magically found arms that lugged branches and tended bonfires! Due to the perseverance of 8 hardy souls, we managed to clear a hillside of piles of downed, dead wood and of any exotic (non-native) shrubs lurking in the woods. As well, the rain blessed us once again on Sunday allowing us to tackle a brush pile and surrounding area that has been in Donna and Don’s view for the past several years. It was a glorious day for burning, with a light rain once again blessing us towards the evening. We may have all been tired, but well rewarded with a weekend’s work well done.
May 6 & 7 a small group cut and stacked the huge down box elder on # 14 of Classic Course for camper firewood.