Friday, March 16, 2018

Native Invasive - Yaupon Holly

Because of inattention and the interruption of the fire cycle, the understory of our woods have become overgrown with brush; mostly Yaupon Holly. It is so thick it is classified as a "native" invasive species.  Yaupon Holly is native to East Texas, but at this level, it's acting just like an exotic invasive.

Yaupon Holly is a shade tolerant plant. It can thrive in shade or sun.  Pine trees on the other hand are shade intolerant. They need lots of sun to reproduce.  The shading of our forest floor from the overgrowth of Yaupon Holly has interrupted our pine trees reproductive cycle.  It has also shaded out the natural grasses and forbs that increase the nutrition of the soil.

The Yaupon Holly has got to go.

Brenda and I have been working most weekends on eradicating the Yaupon. I love the definition of eradicating; "To tear up by the roots."  That's what we've been doing. Pulling the Yaupon up by the roots. Here's a picture of some of the Yaupon roots we've pulled up.  This is just one pile.


Pulling is hard and slow work, but it's the best way we can think of right now. Cutting would be easier and quicker, but the Yaupon would come back and it would come back quickly.  So, pulling it up by the roots is what we do.

 Brenda and I have been working in what we call the "cabin site" for most of 2018. As you can see, we've opened up quite a bit of space.  There's a lot more cleared off to the left of this picture. In the background you can see the wall of Yaupon that still needs to be removed.

Below is a picture of where we've started to cut our new wood's road that I talked about in a previous post.

I wish we didn't have to cut a new road, but we do, so that's what we do.  We work a little bit in each area; a day working the cabin site; the next day working the new road. Slowly, but surely it's getting done.

One of the things you'll notice in the picture to the right is that there are no pine tree seedlings. None.  Below is a picture of what happens when you open up a space and let the light in. Lots and lots of pine tree regeneration.



Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A week in the woods

Thankfully, the weather cleared up and it was a beautiful week for working in our woods.  Brenda and I spent Monday (3/12) to Friday (3/16) at Turkey Creek Timber. We got a lot done, but there is a whole lot that we still need to do.

We've decided to abandon our worst wood's road. It's that main road that takes us across Turkey Creek and to the "other side".  Unfortunately, the erosion is just too extensive.  It will take a huge amount of work to "fix" the trail and quite a bit of money.

 We've decided to cut a new road that is parallel to the abandoned road. We will pile up the slash from the new road onto the abandoned road to help stop and hopefully reverse the erosion.

You can see from the image to the left that some brush that was left on the road a while back has help to catch and retain dirt that eroded from a water bar that I built. We're hoping to help that process.

We put logs into the deep erosion cuts and piled up branches on top. We also chipped up a lot of the branches and the wood chips were added on top of the logs.

What we want to happen is for the piled up branches to catch the leaves  and to help create a dam that will slow up and even pond the runoff water. This will help let the eroded soil from further up the trail to settle out and fill in the deep cuts that have formed in the road.