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Cut It,Watch It or Do not Touch It!

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Past Articles from the Forestry Forum:

 Cut it, Watch it or Do Not Touch It !

By j. a. Kendrick


No two people agree on everything and my husband and I are no different. We love our forest land and enjoy working hard on it. Together we have marked, cut, measured volume and sold our own logs; thinned and pruned for forest health and fire suppression; milled our own lumber; planed and finished material and a myriad of other projects over the past twenty two years.


We have had days where everything went perfectly and days when nothing went right.  We have discussed our plan to the nth degree and we have had plans be overthrown when we tried to execute them on the ground.  Sometimes things went awry as work proceeded, sometimes it involved purposeful deviation from the plan and sometimes we just had different ideas in mind.  We are both strong-willed people and rather than stand toe to toe hollering at each other over whether a particular tree should be cut, we have developed a system that works for us.  


I hate to admit it, but we are both equipment crazy.  We started off with an old ‘40’s vintage Oliver Crawler, which we learned to operate and repair, and it grew from there.  Equipment can enable you to accomplish things that would otherwise be impossible, but it can also enable you to decimate things in the blink of an eye.  Personally, I don’t mind using a shovel once in a while, but if my husband can’t do it with equipment, he really doesn’t want to do it.  Working with hand tools means that things go slowly and you have time to consider changes before it is too late, but when you have equipment operating, things happen fast.  Proper planning is essential, sticking with the program is imperative.  Having a meeting of the minds before work starts is absolutely necessary.


I will say just two words that have enabled us to come to a concise meeting of the minds- “marking ribbon”.  Our system of marking requires placing different colors of ribbon on trees and shrubs to indicate what its disposition is to be.  Blue ribbon means “cut it”, pink means “watch it” and yellow means “do not touch it !”  Before any physical work is started in an area, the ribbons go up.  Placement of blue & pink is often done together, but yellow is usually my domain.  Our marking is often done in winter when it is too wet to operate equipment without making a real mess of our management roads.  That way if he decides to dive into work on an area without telling me, it is clear what my preferences are and what we have both agreed upon.  We call this “conflict avoidance communication”.


Our property has incredible biodiversity due to varying terrain and many water resources. Familiarizing ourselves with our land and educating ourselves on the large variety of plant life that occurs here has been a daunting task on its own, but the investment of time and effort has been absolutely necessary in order to effectively manage our forest.  It has enabled us to understand just how interconnected each part of the forest is and what impact you can have on it, both good and bad. 


Learning about your land and everything on it is the most important thing that you will ever do, whether you are hands-on as we are or whether you contract the work.  If you don’t, you have no room to complain later.  There is only one way to learn what you need to and that is to get the educational materials you need, get out there and get busy.  Building your reference library is really not difficult. Extension Forestry and the Dept. of Forestry have an amazing number of publications available at very reasonable prices. If you need a little assistance to get started, extension forestry has great programs that you can take advantage of.  Getting out on tours of actively managed forest land can give you ideas and incentive.   


Whether you want to learn all you can or learn just enough to make some intelligent decisions, knowledge is power.  Knowing what you want to do with your land and your trees can help to avoid problems, communicating your intent is of utmost importance. So in order to avoid conflict, buy some marking ribbon and make it clear whether you want to cut it, watch it or do not touch it.     



Comment  from Donald J.:

When I first read your forum article called Cut it,watch it or do not touch it, I thought that it was stupid. But my wife just weren't getting along and did not seem to understand what the other said, so we tried it. You saved our marriage.


Answer from jk:

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Glad we could help.

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Kendrick Forest   
Wilderville, Oregon