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Old 03-20-2022, 10:21 AM   #41
rickhart
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The issue of clearings affects not only trees but also some other species. Some birds, for instance, require large tracts of undisturbed forests. Clearings allow "edge species" to establish and out-compete or prey upon the deep forest species. I suspect that trails are too small an area, or area-per-acre, to be a problem.

It would be nice if everyone, skier or otherwise, found this kind of thing worth discussing.
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Old 03-25-2022, 09:21 AM   #42
John H Swanson
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When trail clearing with the permission of and even while being accompanied by a DEC officer in charge, I always thought it interesting that I am authorized to willfully kill hundreds of saplings and seedlings that could have one day grown up to be large mature trees. Yet if I did the same thing in a random location in any wilderness area, I could be fined a considerable amount per each tree for doing the same.
As a trail maintainer, I ponder a same situation in a slightly different way. Sometimes I'll be walking on a trail and see a small tree right next to the trail trimmed to the trunk. I think to myself that it should have been completely removed long ago but someone was too soft. Then, when I'm clipping out a trail I'll see a small tree too close to the treadway that needs to go and I think to myself it would be so nice if I could relocate this little guy somewhere. I get that "feeling" more often with lone trees vs. children trees like beech. IMO, there should be a program to relocate saplings from trail corredors, but maybe I'm just too soft that way.
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Old 03-25-2022, 10:04 AM   #43
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IMO, there should be a program to relocate saplings from trail corredors, but maybe I'm just too soft that way.

Perhaps this thread doesn't seem that way, but I try to think of things a bit more pragmatically.


Yeah, killing saplings is like killing "baby" trees, but it's also not really an apples to apples comparison. Many, actually most, saplings will die. Most seedlings die. Trees are meant to produce a large number of offspring with the hope that one will make it to maturity and take an open spot in the canopy. But the reality is, that only happens to a few.

We've chosen to cut and maintain trails - they have some impact, but in terms of acreage degraded vs. acreage preserved, it's by far a net benefit. Most trails can be built and maintained in such a way they really don't interfere with established trees, and there are ways to circumvent blowdown or beaver activity, although our regulations perhaps make that more challenging than it needs to be. Trails that get regular use will not grow vegetation, seedlings or otherwise, due to trampling.


Again the main difference I see here is area. If you want to clear a huge swath of hill of saplings and maintain it like a ski area, it's going to have large, contiguous, detrimental impact on the forest. A trail has an impact, and it's contiguous, but if it's an acre total of sapling clearing, it's spread over a much larger area say if it's spanning 1 mile of trail (hypothetical swags). If you clear an acre of saplings for skiing in a glade, it's going be concentrated in that one acre.

Maybe it's not much different in terms of impact as is a beaver pond? But it affects a different environment i.e. steep slopes, so there are probably more detrimental impacts in terms of erosion and water quality than is a lowland, where you act to trap those sediments and build up deeper soils with deforestation.


This goes back to my theory of "dilution" of impact. Trails cause a heavy impact but they are spread out and rehabilitate quickly after abandonment. Same with campsites. That's why periodically relocating or building them for higher use is I think a better practice. For instance, there are tons of old camp and cabin sites that are probably not much older than the APA i.e pre-1970s that are almost completely indistinguishable from the rest of the forest except for garbage left behind. If not for that, it might be hard to tell if that "hole" in the forest was caused by a blowdown or lightning, etc...

Last edited by montcalm; 03-25-2022 at 03:44 PM..
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Old 03-25-2022, 10:11 AM   #44
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I think there's also the question of what looks "natural". Perhaps, to some, a ski glade might look natural, and even appealing.


I was actually thinking a hybrid trail system for skiing might be best i.e. combination of glading to effectively widen the trail on steeper pitches, but only contained to a width of 20' or so. I believe I mentioned this concept before somewhere else, but essentially this would be having a marked trail but pole size trees and larger would be left, and clearing of saplings would be contained to +/-10' to the marking. This then gives the trail a more natural feel but allows skiers to open up steep sections a bit to make turns. On pitches with less grade or for climbing trails you'd revert to a more conventional single track width of 3-6'.

Last edited by montcalm; 03-25-2022 at 10:26 AM..
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