Next time you’re visiting you may notice that our upland forest looks a little different. That’s because this winter we performed another thinning of our southern acreage. This was done in part to address several forest health related issues – laminated root rot and fire hazard among them.
Thinning is also helping us to preserve this portion of the property – which we as a family are very excited about. Additionally, managing the property as a working forest has allowed us to rezone it as designated forest land (DFL). This helps to protect its status as an undeveloped property for the long term.
Historically this has been the third significant harvest that the Gibson family has performed since purchasing the property in 1911, with our first harvest around about 1920. The last time the timber was harvested was in 1959 by our grandmother, Edna Gibson. Some of our long-time guests may remember the logging trails and landings from that harvest. These were evident for many years afterwards.
Prior to our family’s arrival, the property had been mostly clear cut in the mid to late 1800’s to fuel the local island lime kilns and to make way for the extensive apple orchards that once flourished here.
For a glimpse of what our forest and our harvesting methods looked like in years past, follow this link to the Orcas Island Heritage website: Historical Photos
During the next several years you will notice a number of changes. For one, we will be replanting trees with disease resistant species. Especially in the areas that had the large groves of alder which were beginning to decline. Also, the much-improved lighting will encourage the regrowth of younger trees along with deer forage.
You may also see several large log piles along the road. These piles are the pulp logs that we saved from the harvest. We have contracted with local fire wood suppliers to process these over the next year. In fact, at some point in the not too distant future, many of our guests will likely be enjoying beach fires and warming their cabins with the wood from our own forest!