Forest Wood Fuel Removal
For many decades, the potential for catastrophic wildfires has been increasing globally year over year. In the U.S. the instance of wildfires is especially prevalent than in the western forests. Previous management practices, beetle infestation, and plant diseases have rendered much of the western forests tinder boxes just waiting for the right (or wrong) conditions to ignite and drive them. The danger to homes, lives, wildlife, ecosystems, and air quality is tremendous and real. Immediate action can be taken on three fronts:
1. Proactive Front
Remove the amassed ladder fuels (underbrush) in the forest. This underbrush allows for fires to elevate quickly to the tops of trees, which is where a fire can spread most quickly. There are many equipment options for ladder fuel and underbrush removal including tracked or wheeled forestry mulching machines, mulching attachments and tree shears. Proper clearances and firebreaks are created around homes that border the forests to create defensible space for the communities. Mulching can also be used to enhance the desired results of prescribed burns.
2. Reactive Front
This involves an active wildfire. Commonly, bulldozers plow fire lines on an active fire. Forestry mulchers are an additional tool to consider for mulching fire lines. By mulching material directly into the ground trees and mineral soils are not pushed outside of the line and can reduce post-fire costs to rehabilitate the area. Forestry mulchers cause minimal clean up requirements and can help reduce the overall costs of active fire mitigation. Choose tracked or wheeled mulching tractors including excavators based on terrain conditions, vegetation & tree species, environmental impact, and travel speed requirements.
3. Clean-Up Stage
After the fire is out and clean up efforts are under way, it is important to ensure minimal water pollution and soil erosion. Forestry mulching machines, mulching attachments, and an excavator with a mulching attachment can provide a top layer of mulch to prevent soil erosion on slopes or by mulching material into the ground to minimize water pollution. Add a thumb to excavator mulchers to expand options on handling fallen material from the fire. Milling attachments can be used to reduce and blend slash into mineral soils to improve decomposition and provide an enhanced soil condition for establishing seedlings.
Silviculture is the process of maintaining and improving forests. Many operators wish to mulch logging slash or standing vegetation and trees to prepare land for reforestation. One can use milling attachments of varying widths and power classes to reduce and incorporate slash and mulched material into established planting berms, or for establishing ideal planting conditions in between thinned forest stands. The shredding action of carbide teeth in mulchers and milling attachments creates varied wood particle size with a shred texture that provides an ideal surface area to enhance decomposition and a soil structure that is beneficial to establishing the root system of new seedlings.