What the Lorax knewPosted on December 18th, 2010 4 comments Add a comment >>
It was a beautiful morning for a ski along the trails of what was formerly known as the “Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center”. As I started out on the picturesque trail with snow-laden branches of maple, pine, and spruce, I couldn’t help but notice a low droning sound off in the distance that seemed to boil-up now and then into a mechanical sound of engine and buzzing.
My interest was certainly peaked so on I skied through the downy flakes, enjoying the hushed, rhythmic crunch of snow, ski, and pole-planting through the narrow trails. The occasional chickadee and woodpecker would lisp or tap a dead tree as I cruised by.
Now the sound grew in volume and the first thing that came to mind was a large truck rumbling down the Jenkin’s Mountain Trail that I was skiing on. Could that be? Was my skiing about to come to an abrupt halt by a Mack logging truck obliterating the ski trail, ripping up mud, rocks, and causing general mayhem?
Well no, that was not the case…so I skied on. But still the sound grew louder.
There!…Off in the forest! A flash of red, the crashing of branches, and nasal-like drone of a chain saw! Peering deeply into the snow covered forest my eyes finally caught a glimpse of a machine that, as best as I can describe, was a hulking, mechanized tree-eater on tank-like treads…and it was coming my way!
Ok, the skiing came to a quick stop at this point. The whirring sound of the engine and the split second buzz of the saw held my rapt attention. But where were the many loggers w/saws in hand felling these trees? There were no shouts of “timber!”, or the steady crack of the ax on a stout maple.
About 50 yards away I encountered a machine (not unlike this one) that would wrap steel “fingers” around a tree trunk, then in the blink of an eye, a hidden saw blade would come out to slice into the 50-year old maple, relieving it of it root-bound feet. And with no more than a flick of it’s “wrist” the long boom would lift and gently lay the entire tree down to the ground as if it were an injured soldier being tended to by a caring nurse.
Other times the saw would buzz and a tree would give a forceful jolt of it’s top branches and then the sickening, crumbling sound of limbs violently falling to the ground with only a momentary “puff” of new fallen snow to indicate where the tree was laid to rest.
Paul Smiths College is in the midst of harvesting timber on its own land but to the skier and snowshoer along the Esker Ski Trail this tree-harvesting machine may cast a feeling of sadness, and gloom.
Yes “business is business and business must grow” to quote the often-used line of Dr Seuss’ “The Lorax”, and I have laid witness to the “Super-Ax-Hacker” of the same story.
I’ve always been a “on-the-fence” kinda guy when it comes to land use/management, and wildlife conservation because I want to see the big picture and how both sides deal w/things.
And I know the result of this harvest will go far in adding to the economy and furthering us along on our yellow-brick road to prosperity but I wonder if the College’s draft horses and “leave-little-trace” harvesting equipment, that faculty and student alike train on in their classes, wouldn’t have been a better choice.
The almighty “buck” is made much quicker these days by the diesel-fueled power of technology that giveth and then taketh away.
Laurie, What makes me feel bad is when I see folks that don’t understand that sometimes you have to do things like responsibly log a tract of land that you own so that you can continue to protect it. Just maybe the folks that own that land are stuck living in the real world. They may not have the luxury to “get away” from it as you do when you come to escape up here.
I feel bad as Brain…apparently Paul you are numb to the whole concept of feeling bad..I had the same experience when I was hiking whiteface and ran into the the new lift…before the turnoff to ester..i said what the heck is this crap…to my right was a long trail of what looked like a chewed up trail left by a huge monster…to the left was the lift…a little building..
I was bothered… i was standing in the middle of the trail..looking around at what i call ‘damage’. thinking..man I come up here to get away from the concrete and buildings for the ‘woods’, this breath of fresh pine, the overhanging cover and comfort of the trails, and how quickly it all can disapear for the yes..the almighty buck…Now that my friend is ‘drama’ to me…and yes it stirs my soul just like Brian..and makes me lament, just like Brian..puts some fear in me, that someday we may lose what we love..and quickly without us knowing or having a choice.
So passion my friend, puts me to question some practices.
We partially can thank the legal system for these “super axe hackers”. It is much less dangerous to have a logger sit in the heated cab of this baby then to have him on the ground with a chain saw. Draft horses leave little trace but if a log rolls on you, or the horse kicks you in the head it is all over pretty fast. Just one of those branches can put your lights out if it hits you in the head. Insurance premiums are part of why we need this technology it is probably more that the the “buck” as you say.
“Paul Smiths College is in the midst of harvesting timber on its own land but to the skier and snowshoer along the Esker Ski Trail this tree-harvesting machine may cast a feeling of sadness, and gloom.”
Brian , really, you gotta be kidding me! Talk about mellow-drama!
Leave a reply