Two years after a neighbor clear cut their portion of the forest my wife and I live in, a fierce windstorm ripped apart, uprooted and toppled 120 of our trees. A few of them hit our house. Foresters call this Catastrophic Windthrow.
It was catastrophic for us. At first we wanted to sell and move away. We decided to stay and heal the land we love.
After carefully lifting the logs over the fragile stream, we milled the logs into lumber and transformed our rusted steel pole barn into a beautiful studio and workshop space. Working with the crews through each step in the process was catharsis through sweat for me.
After the last workers left I laced up my boots again, but this time I headed up the hill and into the clear cut with camera and tripod. I’ve always opposed clear cutting and view them as assaults to the eye, but now I wanted to really look at what comes after the clear cut.
Working forests have three distinct phases, and from some vantage points all three are layered in a rolling mosaic. Phase one is the clear cut, which has been well documented before. The burn phase comes next and it begins after the clear cut when the limbs are piled into cone shapes and burned in the fall and early winter. When spring comes the Doug Fir seedlings are planted and that is phase three. In forty years or so they will be clear cut again.
There is a fourth phase but it does not happen in the landscape. It is the sell phase.