I attended a model forest tour at Zena Timber in Rickreal sponsored by the Forest Stewards Guild. The land owners and managers put on a well organized event. Their philosophy and manaement efforts were a great leap forward from a clear-cut and plant tree farm for creating and maintaining natural habitat. Their goal to maintain 30% hardwoods in their conifer stands adds much to the diversity of the landscape. The management plan for their forest requires that all heavy equipment stay on a system of permanent skid trail. Logs are cable winched to the trail, then skidded to the landing. This is more labor intensive but intended to reduce soil compaction and damage to subterranean life.
Questions were raised that were relevant to the management of the. Gahr Farm forest. The question is, in the Willamette Valley region with little summer rain, is soil damage from operating a crawler tractor in the forest ,in mid to late summer, a meaningful problem? There are numerous advantages in moving the machine to the log over winching in addition to efficiency. The end of the log is pulled up causing less soil rutting than winching. In a mixed stand with wide canopy hardwoods directional falling toward the skid trail is more problematic than in a conifer stand. The crawler tractor can take multi-directional route to avoid damage to other trees. Soil disturbance from a crawler tractor can aid in tree seed germination and regeneration.