Thursday, December 14, 2017


On a tract of public land in the Big Woods a stand of white oak has been growing on some very fertile, moist soil for well over a hundred years. The stand of white oak wasn’t very large, probably not more than ten acres in size but, because they were growing on good soil, the trees had done very well and many of them were two feet or more in diameter.

Every few years the white oak have produced a bumper crop of acorns –

Acorns that fed black bears –

And white-tailed deer –

Gray squirrels and chipmunks –

And wild turkeys –
White oak on a good growing site such as this one can reach 350-500 years of age so most of the trees in this small patch of woodland had many years ahead of them. 

A few of the trees were crooked or had decayed centers, but most of them were big and healthy –

Then, a forester I’ve known for many years mentioned that he was planning a timber sale that would include this stand of white oak. I pointed out the significance of this small stand of trees to wildlife: the seasonal pool it contains where frogs and salamanders lay their eggs, and the vast quantities of acorns it has regularly produced. In fact, the area fed wildlife during  years when nearby areas occupied by other species of oak and various hickories were essentially devoid of nuts.

He went on to mark the trees to be removed, the timber sale was sold to a large sawmill, and the trees were cut. Here are the results –

A number of the trees that were left were damaged during removal of the cut trees –

Although "the book" on best management practices for seasonal pools where amphibians breed recommends not cutting any trees within 100 feet of the pool's edge, that recommendation was not followed. 

Don't assume I'm an anti-forest management person; we live in a wood-framed house with wooden floors, doors, windows and trim; I've been a woodworker for decades, making more than 65 pieces of furniture; we utilize all sorts of paper products; there's a pile of firewood along the driveway. Wood is certainly more environmentally friendly than metal or masonry but not every wooded acre has to be managed. 

I’ve known and liked the forester who marked this timber sale for many years; he attended one of the best professional schools and, although the production of woody fiber for forest industry seems to be the sole interest of all too many foresters, this fellow has always appeared to be sensitive to the other forest resources wildlife, wildflowers, clean water, aesthetics. As soon as I saw the results of the timber sale I thought of Sir Peter Scott’s oft repeated comment, “We should have the wisdom to know when to leave a place alone.”

My disappointment is profound and these ten acres will forever color my opinion of the forester.


  1. A sad but important story. Thanks on behalf of all who are concerned about deforestation. R. Folzenlogen

  2. Hello, we had the same thing happen here on the watershed property. My hubby tried hard to get them to stop the cutting. It is sad to see was is left and now to see what is growing back in it's place is horrible. Non-native grasses took over, I think it is called stilt grass. It grows fast and takes over.
    Enough with my rant, I love all the critter photos. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing your post. Thanks also for the comment on my post. Have a great day and happy weekend.

  3. Your critter photos are wonderful and your post much needed ~ we live a very disrespectful world and all human and nature should be treasured not devastated.

    Happy Weekend to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  4. I understand your disappointment - it hurts the heart. I am sure there is a way that some of the trees could have been harvested while maintaining the integrity of the overall wood and protecting the pond.


Thanks for visiting "In Forest and Field" and thank you especially for commenting. It's always interesting to see other peoples' thoughts. Unfortunately, due to spam and trolls (not the kind living beneath bridges), comments must now be approved before being posted.