Primitive and modern outdoor skills

New tarp poles... cutting poles responsibly


If you recall, a while back I rolled the truck in a blizzard in North Dakota. We got a towtruck to come out in the blizzard and roll it over, and pull it out. I was then rushing around trying to get the stuff on the roof-rack (which had been cracked off) stuffed in to the truck in some manor or other in the dark in temperatures well below zero.

Suffice to say that the wooden poles I'd cut a while back didn't make the cut, and were left on the side of the road.

In the west we didn't miss them much, since it doesn't rain much out west we could use lazier pitches that use fewer poles. We're up in Minnesota now and the rain is picking up. Additionally, the forest around here is heavily logged, and thus there's a lot of "dog-hair". So, it seemed a good time to cut some new poles.

By "dog-hair" I mean extremely dense stands of very young trees. When I went to harvest I poked around looking for the densest stands I could find. Here those dense stands are ash. The stand I took these from had trees ~2 feet apart. Such a stand is *too* dense, and will actually be healthier with a little thinning. The trees cannot grow larger without some being removed. Removing the competition early (rather than letting some die) will reduce competition and let those that survive grow faster and healthier... much like thinning carrots in a garden.

I carefully picked trees that were actively crossing others. The trees I cut were within 6 inches of another tree, and in some cases nearly wrapping around them. The rubbing of the trunk on the other tree will tend to sicken both trees, so these are particularly helpful to remove.

Now... a few of you forestry/environmental/basketry types are waiting for me to address the fact that I said "ash"... yes, I said ash.

Currently we have a serious problem in the U.S. with "Emerald Ash Borer", a beetle who's young burrow through the tree and kill it. For more information look here . It's invasive, so the trees have poor defenses and it's wiping out ash across the U.S. Of course the beetle can fly, but it seems they are often introduced to new areas by humans moving wood around, particularly firewood. I just cut ash, so how am I going to avoid this?

2 things. First, all the ash in the area looked very healthy, I do not believe the ash borer is in the area where I cut. Second, I carefully stripped the bark off each pole, additionally checking for any bug damage anywhere along each pole as I did so, and looking at the bark flakes I removed. The article I linked above notes that they stay in the inner-bark region ( phloem , cambium , and outer xylem ), so stripping the bark should get rid of them, or at a minimum show their tracks through the wood, even if one did deep-dive for some reason.