Reflections on two August timber marking workshops
On August 19 and 20, Grant Domke and I had the opportunity to participate in MLEP Timber Marking workshops in Hackensack and Hill City, MN. At both sites, local foresters led us through a variety of field site visits, showing both marked and unmarked timber stands. After the site visits, participants (mostly MLEP member loggers) got busy with hands-on exercises on tree selection and stand-level marking.
We had great groups both days, and good field sites as well. Erik Lundquist from the Cass County Land Department was our guide at Deep Portage Conservation Reserve in Hackensack. Because the woods around Deep Portage are mostly aspen and pine, our marking exercises occurred in mixed red and white pine stands. Marking pine is pretty different from marking hardwoods–for one thing, there are only two species to choose from rather than 5-10 or more in most Minnesota hardwood stands. But pine marking isn’t always straightforward either, and the small groups came up with a number of creative ways to address the landowner objectives that we threw at them.
On the second day, Doug Lloyd from the Minnesota DNR led us deep into the woods east of Hill City (and, fortunately, back out!). After a short presentation in the community room of Woodland Bank in Hill City, we visited several different hardwood sites: unmarked, marked, and harvested.
These were much more diverse stands than we’d seen the previous day, and we had some great conversations about the many tradeoffs and challenges associated with good hardwood marking. We discussed tree form, optimum spacing, harvest operational considerations, tallying stumpage, DNR marking policies, and costs and benefits.
Like the previous day, after lunch participants got busy with hands-on exercises on tree selection and stand-level marking. We closed the day with small-group field presentations on how each group had addressed their landowner’s objectives through their marking decisions.
The workshops were designed to give loggers some hands-on experience marking timber. We also wanted to give them a chance to get inside a professional forester’s head. It’s common for loggers and foresters to be frustrated with one another–what seems like it “should” be easy to a forester isn’t always to a logger in a 10-foot wide harvester–and we wanted to have plenty of time in the field to discuss the practical realities associated with marking and harvesting timber.
Although we would have liked to have a few more foresters and landowners present, overall the workshops went well. We look forward to offering them again.