Hitch 3: Timber

Hitch lead: Nick Larson
Member: Kenny Grilliot

With Jim Hudson, the Salmon – Challis Timber Forestry Technician, it was our responsibility to inventory several forest plots contained within the Clear Creek fire. The Clear Creek fire burned over 200,000 acres in the summer of 2000. Data was collected to be used in the recertification process of stands contained within the burn area. A forest must be recertified by the Forest Silviculturist and established to be stocked in order to receive funding as a timber producing forest. A forest is considered to be stocked when there are 300 or more trees per acre.

Fixed plots were performed in either ⅓00 or 1/100 acre sizes, saplings were identified and counted and indicator species were identified and documented. This information can then be extrapolated to estimate the stocking of the stand in question.

This hitch was challenging and tested our knowledge of survey techniques and our overall physical fitness. It was not uncommon to walk up and down 2000 feet in elevation each day, and cover 5-10 miles walking over 60-80 percent slopes while climbing over downed trees and constantly staying vigilant for the next burned tree to come down. It was grueling both mentally and physically but the reward of actively managing such an important timber stand was extremely rewarding.

The constant engagement and challenge of identifying species and taking accurate concise data provided entertainment enough in itself, encountering many creatures such as mule deer, and elk were just a perk of the job. Every now and again when spirits were low, a mandatory “Grouse Whortleberry break” was instituted and the thousands of Whortleberry plants were harvested and used to supplement our lunches. Overall the hitch was a very educational and rewarding experience.