Harvesting the Branstead Farm Red Pine Plantation
in the Petawawa Research Forest
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the up-to-date configuration of the HSA trail, check the Deep River Cross Country Ski Club website: DRXC.
Here is a primer (but with a BC focus) of various forest harvesting methods and machinery: FIRST (Forest Industry Readiness Skills Training) Logger