Four years and seven months ago, one of our matriarchs brought forth for this land, a new Forest Stewardship Plan, conceived in Great Wisdom, and dedicated to the proposition that all forests are worth caring for……
While this noble plan is a testimony to the eightyish acres of forest on the site, it also pays homage to the stark reality of living in a time and place where land and money are “part and parcel” (pun intended). One way this reality is etched into law and local government administration is through the ability of private landowners of 20 acres or more of forest to enter their forested land into “Present Use Value” status. Doing so hugely reduces their property tax burden. So it is with the Harts Mill forest. The Forest Stewardship Plan is the document that lays out the road map for what needs to be done from a forest management perspective to keep the land in “PUV” status.
Plan implementation has been on our collective radar over the past several years, but the myriad of other activities to launch this ecovillage enterprise has, at least to date, made it a bit difficult to stay on track. We have managed to check a few items off the list, like building trails and a worthy if not entirely successful foray into helping the Tree of Heaven gene pool understand that this is not the right place to further evolve. But, on the big ticket items related to making sure that this is, societally speaking, a “productive” forest (i.e., for timber, pulp and paper, other valuable manifestations of cellulose, and spin offs such as edible mushrooms), there is more to be done. So, a 2018 conception that has been gestating in the Land Stewardship Circle is to catch up on a few of the plan’s action items.
The plan identifies 10 or so different parts of the forest, known as “stands”, that each have their own requisite implementation actions. A careful read of these has led to the decision to move forward with some actions in the coming months for Stands 6 and 8a. Namely, we’re planning to cut down some trees (a very high majority being pine and sweet gum) and turn them into some combination of timber, mulch, mushrooms, perhaps horse stable shavings or pulp and paper. This will dovetail with village and farmstead development plans, as clearing will be required in both of these stands as part of preparing to build, and our farm soils need more organic matter. The “thinning”, as spelled out in the plan, will also help the trees that remain thrive. There will be workday opportunities in the coming months, so stay tuned, and check out the Plan to learn more. Volunteers are also being recruited to adopt and take leadership with invasive plant management areas. If potentially interested, please contact Randy.