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Earlier, we told you about San Vicente Redwoods (SVR), how we worked with our partners to protect this special landscape, and the Management Plan we created together to guide future stewardship of the property.
With the Management Plan and Timber Harvest Plan (THP) complete, SVR was ready for its first harvest under POST’s care. In July and August 2015, 83 acres in the southwestern corner of SVR’s Working Forest zone were harvested. SVR’s Registered Professional Forester (RPF), Nadia Hamey, planned and oversaw the harvest from beginning to end. Here’s how she and her team carefully and selectively harvested a few of the redwoods in this area.
Step one was to select which trees to cut, a detailed and labor-intensive process in which Nadia examined each tree in the 83-acre section. Redwood trees grow in clumps, making it ideal for this method of timber harvest; Nadia marked trees within a group that could be removed without damaging surrounding trees and would allow the remaining trees to grow more rapidly. She left unique habitat features unmarked. Her goal was to remove the best-quality wood possible, while ensuring that the remaining trees thrive, providing optimal habitat, carbon storage, clean air, and water filtration.
Once the trees were marked, timber fallers from Big Creek Lumber Company began cutting the marked trees, a delicate, thoughtful process that was a bit like playing the board game Operation. Fallers must angle their cuts so that, when the tree falls, removal is easy, the tree is kept intact, and surrounding trees, plants, and animals remain as undisturbed as possible.
When all the chosen trees had been cut, the felled trunks were gathered and taken along specified skid trails to a central location. Next, Big Creek “closed out” the skid trails by reshaping them covering them with redwood mulch to keep in moisture and encourage the regrowth of plant cover. Their policy is always to leave the land in better shape than before the harvest, as required by the Timber Harvest Plan. The transformation in the forest is best seen after the first rain, which spurs a burst of new plant growth on the forest floor and in remaining trees.
Lastly, the logs were taken to Big Creek’s sawmill to be milled into boards and other redwood products. Redwood’s rot-resistance, beauty, and renewability make it both a valuable and an environmentally-friendly building material. Since redwood is a more sustainable choice than cement, plastic, and steel, consider sustainably-harvested, local redwood for your next building project – it might be from SVR!
There’s a lot more than timber harvesting going on at San Vicente Redwoods. Our partners at the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County are working on a public access plan, several groups are doing ecological research, and the many ongoing stewardship projects include removal of invasive plant species, forest restoration, and improvements to fish habitat. Stay tuned for more exciting and interesting stories from SVR!
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 76,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.