Harvesting the Branstead Farm Red Pine Plantation
in the Petawawa Research Forest

A description with photographs of the red pine harvesting operations on the Branstead Farm in the Petawawa Research Forest during 2013 February.

2012 March 26

We have previously written about Exploring the Branstead Farm in the Petawawa Research Forest.

In the spring of 2012, we learned of an additional water well located south of Woermke Road and east of the continuation of Branstead Road towards the beaver pond and picnic table on the HSA Trail. Possibly this well was associated with the Branstead Farm. When we investigated, we were able to locate the well and take some photos. However, the lighting was very harsh that day and we decided to return at a later date to take some better photos, planning to update our webpage with this additional information. Unfortunately, we did not return in time.

Old well along the continuation of Branstead Road south of Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2012-03-26 - map - explore

Old well along the continuation of Branstead Road south of Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest.

Old well along the continuation of Branstead Road south of Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2012-03-26 - map - explore

Some of the rock work lining of the well is just barely visible in this shot.

The fields of the Branstead farm were planted with red pines during the 1920s, and as the plantations matured they were periodically thinned. During the winters of 2009/10 through 2011/12, the pine plantations along Branstead Road and along Woermke Road were thinned, the work being done by a single man with a chain saw and a cable skidder to get the logs out. While the resultant slash made exploration of the interior of the pine plantations difficult, the effects were relatively benign.

2013 February 15-16

We were aware that the HSA trail required rerouting this winter to avoid some logging activity near Woermke Road but did not know exactly where. (The Hawk Trail was also out of bounds this winter due to forestry operations.) On 2013 February 15, Bob was out snowshoeing and encountered the Woermke Road logging activity. Part of the red pine plantation that is south of Woermke Road and east of Branstead Road (the location of the newly discovered old well) had been clearcut, essentially down to bare earth . Cutting had also started on the red pine plantation east of Branstead Road between Woermke Road and R6.

On February 16, Bob and Diana walked out to the cutting area to take some pictures and assess just what was being cut.

EampS logging trailer parked at R1 and Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

E&S logging trailer (formerly Bob's Lawn Trimming and Cutting -- a different Bob!) parked at R1 along Branstead Road.

Undisturbed red pine plantation along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

An undisturbed section of the red pine plantation along Branstead Road.

Red pine plantation harvest area along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - explore

Red pine plantation harvest area along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

Red pine plantation harvest area along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

Red pine plantation harvest area along Branstead Road.

Small bulldozer parked along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

Small bulldozer along Branstead Road.

Fuelling station along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - explore

Fuelling station.

Old stone foundation along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - explore

The old stone foundation of the Branstead farm. It remains undisturbed.

View east along Woermke Road from the intersection with Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

View east along Woermke Road from its intersection with Branstead Road. There is an indistinct stone fence along the north (left) side of Woermke Road here. It may have suffered some minor disturbance.

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - explore

Processor loader.

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

Processor for delimbing the logs prior to stacking.

tree harvesting machine on Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Diana: 2013-02-16 - explore

Feller buncher. Here's a video that shows a similar feller buncher in operation.

Saw blade of the feller buncher parked along Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - explore

Saw blade of the feller buncher. The feller buncher grabs the tree and cuts it off. It then grabs another tree and so on until it has perhaps three cut trees in its embrace. It then lays these down to be retrieved by the grapple skidder, which skids (drags) them back to the loading area.

harvesting the red pine plantation along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Bob: 2013-02-15 - map - explore

Feller buncher in action along Branstead Road (from February 15).

Grapple Skidder harvesting the red pine plantation along Branstead Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Diana: 2013-02-16 - explore

Grapple skidder.

Tires and chains of the grapple skidder parked along Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - explore

Tires and chains of the grapple skidder (not likely street legal).

View of the harvest area south of Woermke Road from the continuation of Branstead Road that leads to the picnic spot along the HSA Trail

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - explore

View of the harvest area from the continuation of Branstead Road that leads to the picnic spot along the HSA Trail, looking back towards Woermke Road.

The continuation of Branstead Road that leads to the picnic spot along the HSA Trail

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

The continuation of Branstead Road that leads to the picnic spot along the HSA Trail. This photo is from the same location as the previous one but in the opposite direction.

The harvest area south of Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

More of the harvest area south of Woermke Road.

Burning slash in the harvest area south of Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-16 - map - explore

Burning slash.

2013 February 24

A week later, Bob returned to the area to check on progress. He noted that another skidder had joined the operation but that the feller buncher and the bulldozer had moved on. Harvesting along Branstead Road and south of Woermke Road appeared to be complete, but another large area of the plantation had been cut. This newly cut section is north of Woermke Road and east of the continuation of Stiell Way that connects Woermke Road with R6. Not all of the logs had yet been skidded out. The cut area is outside the old stone fences of the Branstead Farm but contains rock piles from the clearing of the land. Until a few weeks previous, the HSA trail had run diagonally across this area.

A Timberjack grapple skidder and a John Deere grapple skidder in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Bob: 2013-02-24 - map - explore

A Timberjack grapple skidder has joined the John Deere grapple skidder at the cut area south of Woermke Road. It seems that a single skidder is insufficient to keep up with the harvesting rate of the feller buncher.

(The strong resemblance between the John Deere and the Timberjack is because John Deer bought out Timberjack in 2000. Timberjack, as a separate product line, was phased out in 2006.)

Harvested area north of Woermke Road and east of the continuation of Steil Way towards R6 in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-24 - map - explore

Another large section of the pine plantation has been cut north of Woermke Road. This view is along the trail that is the continuation of Stiell Way towards R6. We hope that this trail will remain passable after the logging operations are completed as it provides useful connectivity when snowshoeing in the area, especially if Branstead and Woermke Roads are ploughed.

A glacial erratic exposed by the cutting in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-02-24 - map - explore

A glacial erratic exposed by the cutting north of Woermke Road.

HSA trail as it approaches the newly cut area in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Bob: 2013-02-24 - map - explore

The HSA trail as it approaches the newly cut area north of Woermke Road.

The HSA trail as it enters the newly cut area in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Bob: 2013-02-24 - map - explore

The HSA trail as it enters the newly cut area. This photo is taken at the same location and at the same time as the previous one except that the view is west rather than east.

We anticipate that these trees will be skidded away and passage across here will once again be possible. However, since the trail has now been rerouted, this will not be necessary.

2003 March 06

Bob returned to the area to complete his mapping of the harvested area. It appeared that all of the felling operations in this area have been completed and that the heavy machinery has moved on. The harvested logs remained piled, awaiting hauling out. The skidding of the logs out of the newly cut area north of Woermke Road has been completed and indeed it is now possible to use the old routing of the HSA trail across the cut area. However, it was very rough going on snowshoes and would probably be most unpleasant and frustrating on skis. The rerouted trail -- along R5 and then continuing south at Woermke Road until reconnecting with the undisturbed trail at Stiell Way -- is recommended.

Satellite view of harvesting areas and Branstead Farm traces

Satellite Image

A satellite view of the old Branstead Farm and the harvested areas. The light green areas (yellow overlay) are the harvested areas. The red lines are the old stone fences. The red dots are rock piles. Mouse over the Google markers to identify the three wells and the stone foundation.

A very small area was harvested west of Branstead Road so as to prepare a clearing for a landing area for the harvesting east of Branstead Road. We did not map this area. We do not believe that it impacted the old stone fence paralleling Branstead road to the west, but we did not explicitly check that.

It is unfortunate that the old well south of Woermke Road has apparently been destroyed. (We will try to relocate it in the spring). We are unsure of the fate of the rock piles in the cleared area north of Woermke Road or east of Branstead Road. None of the other traces of the Branstead Farm that we know of of have been disturbed by these operations. We would anticipate the rest of the Branstead Farm red pine plantations will be harvested in the future, possibly next winter. We hope that some care will be taken to preserve the old stone fences. The other traces of the farm seem safe since they are outside of the plantation area.

We are also interested as to whether the harvested areas will be replanted as plantations or allowed to regenerate naturally. Since it appears that most of the slash is being gathered and burned, we suspect that it will probably be replanted (although the slash removal may be a fire prevention activity).

2013 May 24

We returned to the site of the harvesting south of Woermke Road and were very pleased to discover that the old well survived intact.

old well in the red pine harvest area south of Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photo by Bob: 2013-05-24 - map - explore

The old well on 2013 May 24 -- a lot of flaoating debris but still intact. We determined that the well was currently about three feet deep.

Old well along the continuation of Branstead Road south of Woermke Road in the Petawawa Research Forest

(photographed: 2013-05-24) 

The old well in its altered environment. This view is looking towards the end of Branstead Road. Woermke Road runs across the photo just in front of the tree line.

Notes