Morning Hill Forest Farm

Morning Hill Forest Farm

Who We Are

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Gardening and Restoration

Natural Processes and Fire

The Trees
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The Trees

Prior to Euro-American influence the landscape around Morning Hill was a ponderosa pine savanna with wet meadows in the draws leading to Bear Valley. Old stumps reveal that there were from 15-45 large (18-48+" DBH) ponderosa pine per acre on Morning Hill Forest Farm. The forest was dominated by widely spaced large trees, with small patches of pine regeneration.

Following settlement of the area (late 19th century to early 20th century) fire suppression led to increased pine regeneration in the understory and a two-tiered stand structure: large, widely-spaced old growth overstory with a dense understory of young second growth. The current stand of trees on Morning Hill Forest Farm is a legacy of trees regenerated from the old large overstory.

The property was railroad logged in 1937 removing all the original overstory ponderosa pine. Portions of the property were thinned in the 1950s with the primary objective to increase forage for livestock grazing. In 1977, Lance began the program of forest enhancement we continue to this day. We must work with our forest’s strength: the stability that allows trees to grow to 400 years and more. Large, slow-growing ponderosa pine trees produce extremely high quality wood prized for millwork such as window frames and mouldings.

To promote this stability, we carry out our forestry gradually and consistently. By harvesting each year 80 per cent of our forest’s growth, we allow the standing volume to increase gradually, avoiding the drastic changes which could shock trees living in a harsh climate.

We must minimize our forest’s weakness. Stability in natural systems depends on diversity. In a single- species forest, the diversity must come from someplace other than tree species. Our goal is selection for increased variation in tree age, spacing, size and structure. Removing from dominant age classes allows us to improve age distribution.

sawing boards with a RipSaw bandmill

Each tree is utilized for its most suitable product: poles, sawlogs, wildlife snags, or firewood. We sell sawlogs when market conditions permit, and saw them for our own lumber in other years.

stand data graph

Data from our forest plan and stand exams shows that if our woodland is well-managed, we will reach old-growth standards for our region by 2014, coincidentally the year we are both 62 years old. Our aim is a beautiful, natural-looking mixed-age forest which provides high-quality forest products on a sustainable basis.

a deck of pine logs

Our yearly pruning program produces a varied structure. Some trees are pruned high for the clear trunks that will produce high-quality lumber in the long-term. These trees are preferred by old-growth associated species like northern flying squirrels, white-headed woodpeckers, and goshawks. Low branches are left on other trees, but branches thinned out for better perches for bluebirds and other insect-eaters. Prunings are broken down into fuelwood and mulch. Some trees are left unpruned.

All forestry work must protect our well-documented diversity of non-tree species.


  Sustainable forestry, gardening, renewable energy, low-impact living, community-building: it’s all woven together at Morning Hill Forest Farm. We offer ourselves as nature’s helping hands.

- Lance and Jennifer