With our new chain saw and brush cutter, plus a trailer in tow behind a station wagon filled with garden tools, we headed to our land for the weekend.
Heeding the old carpenter’s adage of “measure twice and cut once”, we again reviewed our proposed driveway path through the forest. I especially took note of tracking with the old logging road as much as possible, maintaining good forest views, and reducing the amount of trees to a minimum that would need to be cut.
Some of our friendly neighbors came by. The husband provided some insights on how much driveway room had been needed for truck access and other heavy equipment during his personal home construction experience. I incorporated this feedback and adjusted the course slightly. There may be a need to remove two trees along the side of the current driveway path, but I oriented it so that lower value trees would be removed (if needed). One has a trunk deformity that was likely caused by stem breakage many decades ago, and the other is a fine tree but on the smaller side. However, there is no need to remove those trees yet, since there is still plenty of room for regular vehicles.
Our initial goal is to get about 600 feet into the property with a cleared driveway path, and connect it up to a central camping spot and turn-around area. The eventual driveway will likely be around 750 feet long, but I don’t want to make final path determinations to a building site until after more exact locations are determined in the future. At around the 600 foot mark, we will also likely need to have a few older alder trees logged, plus that point should be around the proposed clearing area for solar exposure.
We started right beside Parker Road at an old access-blocking brush and log pile, and started cutting it up. Smaller limbs were placed in the trailer, and larger logs were cut and tossed to the side to continue decomposing in the forest. Once beyond that, we started brush cutting through the salal bushes that had overgrown the old logging road. Our property has native rhododendron and we found some smaller rhodies on the driveway; we dug them up and transplanted them to the northwest corner of the property in the clearing where a neighbor illegally cut trees last year.
We made three full load runs to the local transfer station, placing all of the extra brush material into the compostable material piles there. We decided to haul off most of those materials from the driveway path since the bushy material would have created a mess of sorts if just thrown onto the already dense understory plants. The property has lots of healthy brush, wildlife cover, and woody debris on the ground, so the cuttings were not needed for those purposes.
The top half of one tree had fallen across the road, so I cut up the overlapping portion and placed the resulting rounds by the road for a neighbor to pick up (he asked that if we had any extra firewood he’d appreciate us letting him know about it). The fallen tree had split about 30 feet up the trunk, and upon inspection I found a conk on the outside of the tree with fungus in the inner wood at the break point. That is a natural part of forest succession, and it is fine in limited quantities. The bottom half of the tree will make an excellent wildlife snag, so I will definitely leave it standing.
It appeared that the original logging road may have split off in two directions around a grouping of 4 large trees. The better driveway direction unfortunately went to the side which was much denser plus had a very large tree down across it, but I wanted to make decisions based on the best long term choice rather than nearer term expediency. So, I cut into the denser bushes to the left/west.
We likely ended up clearing a path about 300 feet into the property, 6+ feet wide, and it progressed all the way up to the large fallen tree mentioned above. We will next need to widen the path more so that a car can get through without scraping bushes on both sides. Then we’ll continue on past the fallen tree as well. I’m currently researching options for the large fallen tree itself: cut and save for timber (though currently no place to store it), give to a happy neighbor for firewood, or just cut through the middle of the trunk and leave the top and bottom laying on both sides of the driveway.