I do have to apologize for the lapse in articles, but these have been very unusual times.  However, I have an important notice to all our readers and members about the pine plantation harvest at Lac Lawrann Conservancy.  Back in mid-February, at the very beginning of the current Covid-19 crisis, I wrote about the need to harvest the pine plantation.  At that point, using funds from our invasive species mitigation grant, we had hired a company to come in with a “forestry mower” to clear out the invasive buckthorn and other species.  That “mowing” was completed in early March and in spring the forestry crews from the city sprayed the stumps and the garlic mustard in the plantation to prevent re-growth.  If you have been there lately, and hikers have been at the conservancy in significantly higher numbers during this Covid crisis, you will notice that the plantation looks very different.  The invasives have been significantly knocked down and the plan is to continue to control them for the next couple of years.

This cutting will be the third and final harvesting of the plantation.  To the best we can reconstruct, these stands of red pine were planted in the late ’50’s and early 1960’s, using aerial photographic evidence that we can piece together.  Pine plantations were meant to be a “crop” that was harvested at intervals, with a life span of 40-50 years.  Our stand of red pine is well beyond that time line and is now also succumbing to a fungal disease that has already killed trees on over a half-acre of the 7 total acres. 

The harvest began November 10th and continue for a week or two, weather depending. As a significant safety precaution, the plantation trails will be closed until the harvest is complete.  We will however, be documenting the harvest with drone flights provided by West Bend Community Cable and photos posted to our website and Facebook page.  Wood harvested from the plantation will be sold for lumber, pulp and firewood (this being the dead ash and boxelder). The proceeds from the sale of the timber will be used to fund the restoration process.

Once the harvest is complete, we will bring back the forestry mower to chip up the left-over branches and needles (slash) and the area will be treated to keep the buckthorn and other invasives from re-sprouting.   Finally (hopefully in spring 2021) the area will be replanted with burr oak, white oak and sugar maple trees that were purchased (and are currently in tree nursery holding areas) with funds from our invasive species grant that brought the goats to LLC last summer and fall. The subsequent tree plantings will be monitored and some temporary re-seeding done to protect the soil until the prairie seeding can take place. This project will take another 3 years or more before we will see the start of the next act for our pine plantation as an oak savannah.  In the meantime, once the harvest is complete, the trails in the plantation area will be open this winter for cross country skiing and hiking when there is no snow.  So stay in touch, wear your masks to stay safe and we’ll see you at a safe distance on the trails at LLC.

Paul De Chant