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
forests 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
To promote this stability, we carry out our forestry
gradually and consistently. By harvesting each year 80 per cent of
our forests 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 forests 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.
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.
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.
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: its
all woven together at Morning Hill Forest Farm. We offer ourselves as
natures helping hands.
- Lance and Jennifer