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An Ignored Green Solution

Regarding Mr. Art Harwood — and MRC for that matter.

Five years ago Mrs. Hoaglin arranged a meeting with Mr. Art Harwood to discuss other possible solutions to make his enterprise more efficient. It was held at the old Garberville school. There were 17 people there. I saw many eager potential could-be workers there.

I pointed out that with their hack and poison squirt method that although the leaves mostly all will die someday, maybe a whole year later the fact remains that the giant tree trunk and all its branches remain and will still cast big shadows on the money trees, redwood and fir. There is only one most efficient way to do it right and provide jobs at the same time and eliminate the need for poison.

It would be arranged like this: two four-man crews would approach each valley from its end, downstream. All the oaks and madrones would be felled starting at the bottom. Once felled they could be dragged out by a local team of either horses or oxen. The trees would then brought to a big landing where they’d be de-limbed and either bucked up or, if millable, lumber made. There is another two or three person crew. They could be women and they would split up the rounds and make $300 cords of hardwood. I personally can buck up and split half a cord a day. So a double splitting crew would be needed for quick "trash tree" removal into another usable product like firewood or lumber. As for firewood, I see five cords of firewood a day with such a big crew and a paltry amount of expense. So that's $1500 a day, $7500 a week — when sold of course. That makes $30,000 a month with absolutely no exaggeration!

Next, all the limbs go into the chipper for eventually making huge amounts of wood chips that can be sprinkled with blood meal or something, tossed once or twice a week with a backhoe to introduce oxygen. These mountains of chips would sit for a whole year before they would be ready for the ravenous hordes who value such products. I don't know how many thousands of dollars that would raise. Let's say $20,000 is probably an underestimate. 

Everyone would start out at $10 an hour with a chance to rise higher on the pay scale depending on their hustle. $30,000 a month. I checked with our local State Farm agent about adequate insurance for 15 fieldworkers. Details are available. I remember that two kinds were needed and it would amount to about $11,000 a year, I think.

There would be a mobile dimensional saw on site sawing the bigger trees into some very fine lumber which would be much sought after if properly seasoned. A big metal shed or two to sticker, stack and protect the wood against the harsh sun. 

The revenue from this endeavor alone would generate $50,000 a year minimum.

Remember when hack and squirt is used the tree trunk and all the branches continue to cast at shadow on the money trees 12 months of every year. But progress would continue up the hill falling the next batch of trash trees falling downhill with no hangups due to the removal of that lower row. See? They get dragged to the "products flat" to be bucked, limbed, split and stacked into 4’x8’ firewood stacks left in the sun. Safety would always come first. The fallers continue to the top making sure no money trees are damaged. One three-man crew on each side of the valley doing same thing. $30,000 a month is real money.

Mr. Harwood of RFFI would not seem to be needed for any payroll responsibilities. Mr. Harwood when he heard my detailed, perfectly doable plan laughed and ridiculed me saying something about how some people would make more money with their welfare checks. He not only couldn't see the self financing aspects of this venture nor any possibilities of avoiding his and MRC’s use of poisons.

Think about it. All trash trees completely gone along with their ponderous girth that can be completely free to be taken over by the fast-growing "money trees." Would it take a long time? You bet. But think about the best part. Lots of local good paying jobs with insurance. Hundreds of $300 cords of seasoned hardwood firewood. $50,000 worth of lumber. The one-year-old compost mountains. I'd bet it would add up to no less than another $50,000 a year. Perfectly legitimate, well-thought-out, financed and insured and Mr. Harwood laughed out loud at me.

Two backhoes, 12 chain saws, two log splitters, gloves, protective clothing, helmets with earmuffs, a 500 gallon fuel tank, 2-4 pairs of caulk (pronounced "cork”) boots, tee posts, ten Mcloud's, and various double bit axes, six peaveys and whatever incidentals I missed. The two metal sheds would need to be built for lumber storage. The miller could be shaded.

Mr. Harwood wouldn't even give us a chance to see if it really could work. There is absolutely no doubt at all that my plan would work as enumerated. When I say “us,” I saw at least six willing workers who would have started probably the next day. If anyone can find a flaw in his plan, let's hear it. The creeks would be protected by parallel placements of some of the limbed trees to protect the creek from winter mud and would serve for the chosen logging outfit when they decide years down the line to harvest their money trees. No mud, dust or dirt in the creek. 

While we were out there why would we not choker up some of that dead standing wood? That's fuel removal too. We would be around and through the whole valley so then would be the perfect time to eliminate that flammable stuff.

That, my friends, is the most perfect method of true "forest management." But Mr. Harwood and his bald chemical-loving comrade laughed. What a huge loss for our community that could use a new industry somewhere, anywhere around here.

Roderick Brown, Whitethorn

poisoned dead tanoak trees

Alethea Patton notes:

While I agree with Roderick Brown that his plan for removing “trash trees” is far superior to the “slash & squirt” methods of the lumber companies, I do not agree that Tan Oak and Madrone are “trash trees”. This is the mindset and language of loggers. The Tan Oak tree is one of the most highly esteemed trees of the Pomo and other first nation peoples. The acorns produced by this tree are some of the best and a source of abundant food that we should all learn how to collect and process, since things aren’t looking very good for “advanced civilization” these days. Black Trumpet mushrooms and many other delectable wild mushrooms are supported by these trees. Many forest animals depend on the acorns and berries as well. A whole systems approach needs to be developed for selective logging and forest fire management that values ALL of the life of the forest and the humans who interface with it, and this approach should include “food forest” thinking and not just “chop wood” thinking. Just my two cents. 


  1. izzy March 14, 2019

    If it has to be done, manual removal seems like the more intelligent option, though the designation as trash appears to be a matter of momentary convenience, as explained in Patton’s addendum.

    But something else is also going on out in the woods. I’ve been patrolling my own patch of forest for four decades, and things don’t look real good lately. No hack & squirt here, but over the last several years Tan Oaks have been rapidly dying off and falling over in large numbers, not unlike the photo above. Numerous firs are developing an unhealthy pallor as well. Whatever the source, the multiplying aerosol trails we see often painting the sky are dumping a lot of junk into the air column. Lab tests of the residues are not encouraging. We’re all breathing too.

  2. George Hollister March 15, 2019

    I know the AVA likes to walk the walk. So the AVA needs to go green, too. Throw out the computer, it uses too much electricity. Get a manual typewriter, or get a couple of them. Use manual typesetting, and a manually operated newspaper printer, too. That would save a bunch more on electricity, and be good for the Planet, too. I know, that means a lot more labor. And that labor needs to be at a living wage. In Anderson Valley that is what, $35 an hour? Don’t forget maternity time off, sick pay, and health benefits. Can’t afford it? BS. That’s Capitalist greed speaking there. Don’t forget to hire newspaper boys on bicycles to do the delivering, at a guaranteed minimum living wage as well. Horses should be used to deliver the paper to more remote locations. This would mean the AVA will be walking the walk, doing what is best for the planet, and providing a living wage for all those in their business family. What a great plan, for everyone.

    Roderick Brown will be cheering.

  3. Jeff DeVilbiss March 18, 2019

    Or, leave any given forest area alone until the the conifirs are mature, at which time they will have shaded out and killed the slower lower Hardwoods.slow and steady wins any race. Speed and its associated greed reduce any quality .

    • George Hollister March 18, 2019

      Those conifers are Douglas fir trees, and not redwoods. And Douglas fir trees can shade out redwoods too. So if the desire is to have a redwood dominant forest, both tan oak, and Douglas fir need to be controlled. In the past, this “management” was done with periodic burning of the redwood forest. But the fire tool has a limited future, at best, at least in redwood forests. The Sierra forests are a different matter all together.

  4. Marilyn Davin March 19, 2019

    $10 an hour, assuming 10-hour days 30 days/month, is $3,000/month, not $30, 000

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