Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010
The park has been employing horses to skid felled trees infested by oak wilt out of its woodlands, thereby minimizing disturbance to the forest.
St. Croix NSR has been actively controlling oak wilt on this site for several years. This is the second year the park contracted with Tim Carroll, who owns and operates a horse logging operation based out of Minnesota. Tim believes in a light footprint on the land. His approach was compatible with the park’s need to remove infested trees with minimal disturbance.
Tim’s two draft horses, Rose and Sugar, were harnessed by apprentice Serena Shon, a USFS helitack member in the summer, employing special rigs to pull the logs gently through the woods. Last winter, Tim used the directional felling technique to prevent damage to other trees and position downed trees for ease of hitching the logs to the horses. Voice commands and a light touch on the reins are used to direct the horses back to the logging camp.
The St. Croix River was staged like a scene from its past. Operating over the snow, the logging camp has portable saw mills, a cook tent (the warmest spot in camp!), tents for sleeping, and a paddock for the horses at night. After a year wrapped in plastic to remedy the oak wilt, the 1200-pound logs were turned into boards for use by the park.