Saturday, June 17, 2023

Clearing the forest

Here on our new (to us) home, about two acres are in woods on a steep hillside.

This area was covered in brush and fairly unusable except by passing deer. The underbrush was such that very little grazing grew. Clearing these acres, we knew, would be a long and laborious process, and it fell verrrry low on our priority list.

But last year we caught wind of a county project in which approved applicants would have the underbrush cleared out for them by contractors for purposes of fire mitigation. At first we were skeptical – it seemed too good to be true – but after careful research, we learned it was, in fact, legitimate. Sign us up!

Still, we had no idea what to expect as far as how the final result would look. Then, during our daily walk up a nearby road, we saw some acreage where this county program had taken place.

Here is an example of the tangled brush and scrub plum trees on this roadside property (these photos were taken in March, so still snow on the ground):

With brush this thick, you can understand the concerns of the fire personnel. Now here's what the property looked like after clearing it:

We were impressed by how open and park-like the result was. The goal, we were told by the county, is to clear away "ladder" brush – things that could catch fire and send the flames into trees via the "ladder" of burning brush.

Applying for this program was a slow process, though the county official was very nice and helpful. Last March, she called and told us the contractors would be arriving the next day to view our property and make bids.

Sure enough, early the next morning, our lower driveway was full of vehicles.

After everyone left, Don and I took some flagging tape and a couple of Sharpies, and went through the property to flag anything we did NOT want cut.

However it wasn't until late May when we got word the contractors would be arriving. I took a few "before" photos.

Aside from the predictable array of chainsaws and other tools, the contractors were armed with some impressive and intimidating equipment designed to chew up anything and everything in its path.

Logs, brush, debris ... anything on the ground was ground up and spat out to make, essentially, mulch.

These men were working hard and working fast, so we stayed out of their way as much as possible. But when we peeked our heads in and took a look, we were impressed!

Not only did they remove the underbrush, but they also trimmed tree branches to a height of eight feet from the ground.

I happened to see this one displaced and very frightened robin. Doubtless she lost her nest, something I was very sorry to see.

The contractors also worked on some trees and brush along the road.

It was easier to see what they were doing during this process. They removed wild rose bushes, blackberry canes, and trimmed all the tree branches to eight feet.

Everything was fed into a chipper.

The result was a very clean area along the road.

They even chewed up the pile of black hawthorn brush from where I spent days trimming out the grove a few months ago.

As a final flourish, after the contractors had completely cleaned up, they even used a leaf blower to clean the road so neighbors would not be inconvenienced by any remaining debris.

"Wow, they're a full-service organization," I exclaimed when I saw this.

"Do you suppose they'll leave a mint on the pillow?" Don inquired.

We couldn't be more pleased with the result of this activity. Clearing out that brush opened up that section of property. We can seed it with grass and our future cows will be able to use it for shade.

And – not incidentally – it's safer for fire conditions. Win win.


  1. Wow, they did an awesome and impressive job (even if they forgot to leave the mint on the pillow!)

  2. Patrice, can you post the name of the county program? I want to see if it's available here in Benewah. Thanks!

    1. Apparently it's called "The Fire and Fuel Management Program."

      - Patrice

  3. They did a great job. We have similar clearing done for the power company. They clear the easement for the lines. Took out some stuff I wanted out anyway. Trimmed the tree limbs to 20'.
    Unfortunately, they didn't think this property at the end of the cove warranted a good clean up. Instead of chewing up the limbs that were down. They cut them smaller and left them there. So I have two large areas of junk that will be a job in progress as it is just me doing it. Person that does my mowing won't be able to get into those areas until I get finished.
    kathy in MS

  4. looks great! We had a friend thin our woods and take out the underbrush but he did not do anywhere near the great job those workers did. Makes me think maybe we should sign up also since they do the same thing here in NE WA.

  5. Alright, now you're Really making me jealous. No wonder folks in Oregon want to change their property over to Idaho instead. I want my land in Alabama to become part of Idaho too! You have never seen so many vines, snakes, bugs. I don't swear, but something pretty close, that wisteria vines here have grown a foot per day during all this rain! Wonder what that crew would have done with wisteria. If someone would just clear it out I'd go willingly behind to do something devastating to all the roots!

  6. That is great now. I am sure cows will prefer the present conditions. And, no fire hazard to boot.

  7. I hate being that guy, but...paid for by public money, using foreign-built equipment.
    End times are very near.

    1. Property taxes aren't cheap. Not to mention all the other kinds of taxes we have to pay. And forest fires not only destroy homes and forest, they drive up insurance rates for everyone. And destroy other infrastructure like utility lines.
      This is good planning.
      And, this is funny. Storm debris and wood decomposition in forests is more responsible for those gases greenie weenies worry about than things they actually harp on. In this instance, the crew chipping it all up means it turns into soil much faster. Definitely win win.
      Idaho is beautiful, as we all can attest from pictures on this blog.
      And clearly smart people are running the show there.
      Idaho isn't responsible for us living in the end times as described in the Bible. God is working His plan and we're all in it. The whole world is in it. What I didn't see in those pictures of the crew is a crew of illegals. They look like hard working American men who are probably supporting families.
      And USA!

  8. WOW! This is fantastic. Sad indeed for the displaced nesting birds, but the fire prevention this will provide will ensure the safety of far more in the future. I do hope they have enough time to try for a second clutch. KinCa