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Author Topic: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...  (Read 2433 times)

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Offline bjdbowman

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Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« on: February 03, 2015, 05:34:15 PM »
Hello all... I am new to the forum... So please forgive me for being all too green (and sappy).

Here is a simple question for the experts...

I have doubts about the proper way to fell my timber.

I have many old growth (80-100 year old) long leaf pine on my property here in central east coast Florida. Many of the trees are along my property line and I want to harvest some of these trees to build timber frame structures on-site and to clear and area for new long leaf plantings.

If the trees fall the wrong way they will crush neighbors homes that are between 20-30 feet from my property line.

I have questions about topping the trees first so that when they fall I don't damage the trunk.

I was thinking that I would remove the main branches (12"-16" diameter) on the side of the tree where  I want to lay the tree down. I am thinking of doing this as not to crack the trunk as it falls...as it would land on these branch which might act as a leaver and snap the trunk of the tree.... this would be bad.

I have cut down trees before but nothing this large in scope before, and I want all of the fallen tree trucks to remain in tack. I plan on cutting down 40 to 60 trees and all of them in the direct vicinity of falling on the neighbors homes... I am choosing these trees because I plan on planting back 2000 trees along this 3 acres strip adjacent to my neighbors property (a small subdivision) as a buffer...

My fear is if I remove branches from only one side... the tree might become un-balanced and will want to fall in the opposite direction towards the neighbors homes...

If I attempt to cut limbs on both sides of the tree the outside limbs would fall into the neighbors property... crushing fencing etc... it's kind of a tricky situation...

I really want to hire an expert with insurance... to cut down the trees... but before I seek this option, I want to understand what the experts here have to say...

The trees are 16" - 30" diameter southern yellow long leaf pine... and most are straight and tall... all with the cluster of limbs at the top like a giant umbrella caught in the wind... I'll try to attach a photo or two.



 

I hate to crush a neighbors house... i'd be ruined...

Any advice other than to hire the expert... because I plan on doing that, but I want to be smarter than the expert, just in case he tries to do something that is wrong.

Thanks in advance for the input...

Offline WH_Conley

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 06:57:26 PM »
Any advice other than to hire the expert... because I plan on doing that, but I want to be smarter than the expert, just in case he tries to do something that is wrong.

Then you would be the expert. :D I just couldn't resist.

Check references and have a copy of his liability ins policy in hand.

I am just guessing that you need a tree service guy and not just a production logger.

Welcome to the forum.
Bill

Offline sealark37

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 07:21:36 PM »
I do not think that leaving the limbs intact on the trunks will cause any damage to the trunks as they fall.  The larger question may be, "How to handle the logs on the ground?"   Regards, Clark

Offline treeslayer2003

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 09:34:31 PM »
pine is not to bad about that. i would get some one with a  cable skidder to come out and pull them to be sure they don't get away from you. some one that knows how to do that.......the faller and skidder op have to be on the same page at all times.
then he can skid them where you want them.

long leaf is different than other pine as far as replanting.....you may have to have a controlled burn or two to get them to grow. we don't have um here so i can't be of much help there but i have read sumthin about that. do some research on them.

Offline thenorthman

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2015, 11:09:44 PM »
hanging a line isn't a bad idea around high value targets.  Kinda my bread and butter there.

Hiring a cable logger would be my bet.

But if you really want to know whats going on, get a copy of D. Douglas Dent's Professional Timber Falling.

Barring that cause it can be a little hard to find right now... Each tree is different and teaching timber falling over the puter is always a horrible idea... anyway like I said every tree is different and needs to be sized up each and every time.

Check for lean.

Check for dead branches and other bad things that would like to fall on you and cause headaches or usually worse.

Check for large limbs and  crooked tops both can mess up where the tree goes.

Get a big enough saw to power through the cut, don't mess around with the normal home owner crud.

Buy some felling wedges and learn to use them, (hence read the book), get 4 or more of various sizes (2 each of 8's and 10's at least) they are cheap and work very well for what they are intended for.

Wedges will save the day by the way

An axe to beat wedges with among other things

Wear a hard hat at all times. (No really wear one, I may not support the chaps ear muffs, eye protection thing but seriously wear a hard hat)

Right so on to the actual falling timber part. 

Clear 2 escape paths in seperate directions, most fallers are killed within 10 feet of the tree they are falling.

Once you have decided that the tree is leaning in an acceptable direction, Make your aiming cut roughly 1/3 the diameter of the tree, make careful aim to direct the tree where you want it, this cut decides everything. Then make the sloping side of the face cut whether you go top or bottom (conventional or humboldt) I don't care, just make it match the aim cut, Just don't go chasing yerself, if the cuts don't line up stop and chunk it out.

Now the really fun part.... The Back Cut... This bit is actually more important then the face cut.

So dog in on the near side, or off side if you wanna waste time with a short bar.  Cut until you have enough room to start a wedge, then stop and start a wedge... no really, start a wedge.
Then keeping an eye on how much hold wood you have (the bit between the face and the back cut).  Remember to stop cutting when there is still hold wood on both sides and enough to hold the tree up. Not sure on pine but 1-2 inches should be plenty.

If the tree hasn't fell by now its time to break out that axe and start swinging away at them wedges.

The final and a very important step is to keep looking up at the top, danger is overhead, and the top will tell you more about where the tree is going than anything else

Some of the hardwood guys may have some other methods, all are valid, just have to find the right one for the job.

Also limbing the thing first is just a bunch of extra work that will likely cause the tree to break easier then having the limbs on. All them branches and needles and leaves act like a really horrible parachute, which even a horrible parachute is better then none at all. Same goes for topping them Only 2 reasons to top a tree one for making a spar tree, and 2 for when there isn't any room to fall it whole. Granted a topped tree will likely not break, but you do kinda ruin the top bit.
well that didn't work

Offline Southside

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2015, 11:29:03 PM »
Maybe things grow a bit differently down there but that bark looks like short leaf pine around here.  Don't know if that makes a difference to your plans or not.  Thenorthman is spot on as to how to do it, the issue will be who will do it and what will it cost.  The number and proximity of high value targets may make this an expensive proposition. 
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Offline treeslayer2003

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 07:26:14 AM »
south do you mean short leaf or virginia? we got both here tho short leaf are few now.

Offline Southside

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 08:22:41 AM »
What I know to be Virginia pine - we don't have much of it around here - has more of a small, loose, flaky scale to the bark, and about 4 million limbs. I did see some shortleaf up close last week in a yard and am basing my assessment here on that, but I am no expert by a far shot.
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Offline Hemlock1984

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2015, 09:13:00 AM »
Before you do anything, make sure there isnt a Red Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) living in the tree. If you see a cavity hole with a lot of sap running down the tree, you may need to contact the fish&wildlife service. I doubt you have to worry about it, but thought I would mention it, just in case.

Offline 101mph

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2015, 12:11:14 PM »
I would also suggest watching a lot of youtube videos on different tree felling techniques.

Nothing replaces the experience a lot of these guys have here on this forum. They give great advice and I have learned a ton myself (I'm a rookie too  ;D). Wedges are great to have and I've used the Maasdam Rope Puller with great success.

But...If it's too difficult of a tree to do yourself, hire a pro to do it.

Offline bjdbowman

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2015, 08:07:14 PM »
All great advice... I see that I need to learn the lingo first... I will look for a copy of D. Douglas Dent's Professional Timber Falling...

I am afraid that this will be too costly to hire someone to fall all the trees... so I plan on doing some of the trees myself...

I have an appointment with the local Forestry Services agent next week to walk the site with me.

I'm looking to learn as much as possible... Thanks for all the input guys...

Offline John Mc

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2015, 08:56:08 PM »
It sounds as though you have not done a whole lot of this before. Felling trees near high value targets is not the place to learn and get experience. Get yourself some training and practice out in the boonies first before you tackle something like you describe.
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Offline Claybraker

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2015, 09:07:47 AM »

I have an appointment with the local Forestry Services agent next week to walk the site with me.


Sounds like a good plan. Extension Foresters are kinda limited on the services they offer, but sometimes it's nice to have advice from someone who doesn't have a financial interest in your decision.

You mentioned replanting in Longleaf. With the existing stand, you might want to ask him about site prep to remove/reduce the saw palmetto cover, and using natural regeneration.

Offline bjdbowman

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2015, 03:54:09 PM »
Claybraker... Yes I plan on removing 2 acres of the palmettos before I harvest the existing big pines.

The forestry agent is going to work with me to prepare the management plan for me as I plan on planting back 2000 tubelings in the 2 acres.  This is another reason why I am harvesting the bigger trees now, to make room for the new plantings and to mill lumber now so that it can air dry.

I am planting the 2000 trees because I want to create a buffer between me and the neighbors and I want the 2 acres to be of an agriculture use for tax reasons, and I want to be able to use the trees at some point to fill in the remainder of the property. I also want to be able to offer up some of the trees to neighbors to plant in their yards as well.

Any of existing trees that I plan on cutting and falling myself will be away from any value targets... I plan on hiring an expert to just fall the trees within range of valuable targets (as you so put it).

I am looking for some ideas on how to use the bases of other big pine trees in the area to cable pull the fallen logs to the portable sawmill. I might rent a 4-wheel drive fork lift for a week if needed but we will have to see.

I plan on using every inch of the trees that I cut down.

I regularly use the pine for firewood, although it is consumed quickly, it does burn rather well. I will turn the branches into firewood and the bark I will shred into mulch.

This is all new to me, but I have cut down plenty of trees, but none that I ever made into lumber.

To this point I have only made firewood.

Thanks again for all your input.

 

Offline bjdbowman

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2015, 04:31:13 PM »
I do not think that leaving the limbs intact on the trunks will cause any damage to the trunks as they fall.  The larger question may be, "How to handle the logs on the ground?"   Regards, Clark


Great Question... I was thinking about cutting the logs to length and then moving them to a portable mill onsite...

I would cut the branches off (and down to a manageable length) and make a firewood area where I will cut to length and split at a later date.

The 2 acres will be cleared of palmettos before we start to do anything...

Thanks,

Offline bjdbowman

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2015, 04:33:13 PM »
Before you do anything, make sure there isnt a Red Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) living in the tree. If you see a cavity hole with a lot of sap running down the tree, you may need to contact the fish&wildlife service. I doubt you have to worry about it, but thought I would mention it, just in case.

Thanks... there are many environmental issues where we are including the RCW... but we haven't seen any nesting cavities on our site.

Offline bjdbowman

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2015, 04:35:08 PM »
 

another image...

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2015, 06:00:59 PM »
The palmettos being the low bush/grassy greenery in the foreground?

How is that cleaned up? Root rake or something on that order? Follow-up with spray of some kind, or does rooting it out take care of it coming back?
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Offline mesquite buckeye

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2015, 11:24:37 AM »
Those palmettos are up to 6' tall or so multitrunked mini palm trees. It is quite a job clearing them out. Also a great habitat for rattlesnakes and moccasins. :-\
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Offline Claybraker

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Re: Small 7 acre homeowner needs advice on felling Long Leaf Pine...
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2015, 08:18:09 AM »
Yep, and try to walk through them you'll understand why they are called "saw" palmetto. When the saw palmetto berry craze hit a few years ago, there was a huge increase in the incidence of snake bites.

Chemical control is sorta effective, if you stay after it.


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