Monday, September 26, 2005

Thinning the yard


Here's a photo of me preparing to knock down a tree yesterday. As you can see, it's already dead, the bark destroyed by spruce bark beetles. Alaska has been suffering from beetle infestation for the last ten years or so, and some scientists say it's a side effect of global warming. The winter temperatures don't get cold enough long enough to kill them back, and so they've swept across the state destroying millions of acres of boreal forest. This in turn adds to the ferocity of our summer fire season. Historically, Alaska loses about a million acres of forest to fires each year. This year (4.5 million acres) and last year (6 million acres) have set new records.

Anyway, you can see how dense the brush is in my own 4-acre back yard forest. I've never gone in and thinned it because I don't have room in the cabin for a woodstove. I love wood heat. I love harvesting the wood, splitting it, burning it, sitting next to its fire. This year, with heating oil prices going through the roof, there's a local rush on woodstoves and firewood, and Cam (Jasper the cat's owner) is helping me thin my yard and haul off the wood to keep his own house warm.

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