One of the biggest problems in the western forests of the United States is that we have too many trees. It used to be, frequent fires kept the undergrowth clear without killing the older mature trees. Fuel loads weren’t allowed to get too high. With less fuel built up in the forests, fires burned at low intensity.
Much of our forestland is choked with thickets of trees. Timber stands have grown dense from a century of full fire suppression. These thickets are susceptible to insect attack and drought stress mortality. Fuel loads in the forest are huge. The fires of today burn at such high intensity that it is difficult for firefighters to fight them safely. We are now having larger and more destructive fires, such as the Rim Fire that burned into Yosemite National Park.
Thinning so many small trees was slow and expensive, but with today’s modern logging technology we now have the ability to thin these timber stands efficiently.
First, the sawlogs are harvested for lumber. Next, the biomass is harvested and put into doodles. Biomass are the trees or tops of trees that are too small for products like lumber, poles or veneer. Doodles are harvested bundles of small trees.
The trees marked in white are the “save” trees that won’t be harvested.
Sawlogs being skidded into the landing.
The log processor manufactures the trees into logs.
The small trees are chipped into a van to be hauled to the co-generation plant and turned into electricity.
Thinning these timber stands leaves them more resistant to fire and insect attack. A healthy fire is the goal.