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Timber Harvesting

Harvest Design

    Harvest Design
  • Use the logging system that best fits the topography, soil type, and season, while minimizing sod disturbance and economically accomplishing silvicultural objectives.

  • Timber harvest planning is more than deciding how to cut trees. The harvest design must consider the long-term effects of harvesting on increasingly important resources.

    Cumulative watershed effects.

    What are the effects of this harvest when combined with other activities in the same watershed? Will there be a combined detrimental effect on water yield and sediment?

    What are the potential effects of the harvest on water quality?

    Soil erosion hazard: Some soils are more prone to erosion. Help is available to identify erosion hazard.

    Rainfall: its seasonal pattern and total amount.

    Topography: Where are slopes, drainages, streams, and other physical features located? Are there critical areas that will require special attention?

    Wildlife habitat protection.

    How will the harvest affect wildlife habitat? Eliminating elk habitat, for example, may displace elk use of the area.

    Plan for a prompt new forest.

    Are there other plants, in addition to trees, that indicate special precautions about the harvest area? What kind of forest will be grown after the harvest and how quickly will the site be reforested?

    Trees left for future harvest must be of sufficient vigor and acceptable species to ensure continuous growing and harvesting. They must also be protected from damage, to enhance their survival and growth.

    Characteristics of the harvest sites - in particular terrain - influence the choice of a logging system. On gentle terrain, tractors and skidders, or even horses, are a logical choice. In Idaho forests, ground-based skidding equipment is common.

    Above: Whatever the harvest system - or skyline - the power saw and skilled operators are crucial.

    Right: Feller-bunchers are mechanical harvesters that move through the forest and harvest trees and pile them in bunches. They can reach into sensitive areas and thin individual trees without damaging remaining trees, water, soils, or wildlife habitat.

    Below, Slide-boom delimbers begin the manufacturing process right in the forest. They quickly snip off the branches and cut the stem into exact lengths.

    Skyline and cable harvesting (right) are used on steep slopes where ground-based equipment cannot operate. These machines are capable of reaching out a quarter mile, lifting logs off the ground and moving them to a landing where they are hauled away.
    Whatever harvest system is chosen, it must protect the long-term resource values of the forest.

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Idaho Forest Products Commission
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