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Swede McBroom
1527 Franklin Pike SE
Floyd, VA 24091
Phone 540.392.6287

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Sustainable Practice

Eyke Sovereign - The future of the Suffolk Punch Breed in America (with Jason Rutledge).

Horselogging using worst-first single tree selection is sometimes called "restorative forestry". This method looks closely at each individual tree to determine which ones to harvest. Trees damaged by previous skid-ding, disease, fire, over-crowding, or weather are removed first. Crowding resulting from stump regeneration is also reduced. Every tree that is cut is carefully felled to avoid damaging other remaining trees with high value potential.

This method increases the development of top dollar timber that can bring income to the landowner every 10-30 years. It preserves the beauty and recreational use of the forest. It is an ongoing management system rather than total clear-cut harvest rotations every 75 years. Such forest stewardship has been found to increase the amount of high quality commercial timber taken from a given site over time.

This crop tree management focuses on releasing individual, selected trees to maximize their growth by removing nearby diseased and damaged trees. Research conducted on hard-woods in West Virginia (Perkey, Wilkins, and Smith, USDA Forest Service, January, 1994) indicates that crop trees "free to grow" may increase in diameter 2-3 times more rapidly than natural stands.
Maintaining our forests by horselogging can help protect our air and water quality, since the forest filters both the air and the water for the planet. Little damage is done to the forest by the use of animal-powered skidding and a device called a mechanical arch.

This arch suspends the front end of each log being skidded to prevent rutting of the topsoil. Few roads are created using this method, and those required are built in harmony with the land contours to prevent erosion. Since single tree selection functions best on a 10-20 year rotation, roads and loading landings can be used for generations
How much income can a typical Appalachian forest landowner expect from such harvesting?

No one can tell exactly, as it is always dependent on the site. Since most of our forests are of an average age of 75 years com-posed of mixed hardwoods and softwoods, on moderately steep terrain, we have a set-ting ideal for horselogging using single tree selection. Much of the property has been high graded in the past, with the best large hardwoods taken. This presents the perfect opportunity for restoration forestry. We can speed that process by improvement harvesting of the diseased and damaged trees using animal-powered skidding to protect seed-lings and the developing high grade trees.

Because of the slow, careful work by animal-powered skidding and removing the worst trees first, the logger will get a fair share of the yield from the timber. An average of 1500 board feet may be skidded per day. Appalachian forests sometimes produce as much as 2000 board feet per acre using our “worst first” selection method, with an average value of 30 cents per board foot. On the average, an improvement harvest can be worth an estimated $300-$1000 per acre for the landowner. It is possible that a landowner could realize several thousand dollars income from 40 acres by employing a horselogger to improve a forest, and still have a woodland to enjoy that will yield greater income in the near future.


• increases the development of top dollar timber.

• preserves the beauty and recreational use of the forest.

• helps protect air and water quality.

• provides income to the land-owner every 10-30 years.

• requires very little or no road building.

This practice of horselogging using worst-first single tree selection is often called “restorative forestry.” The Healing Harvest Forest Foundation provides information on this method of sustainable timber harvesting and helps landowners locate horseloggers in their area. We also fund training for those interested in becoming horseloggers, and gather research data on community-based sustainable forestry practices. Your donations to this work are tax deductible.

Healing Harvest Forest Foundation
A 501( c )( 3 ) charitable organization
8014 Bear Ridge Road
Copper Hill, VA 24079

What Every
Forest Landowner
Should Know...

Phone - 540-651-6355
Fax - 540-651-3914
Email - rutledge@swva.net
Phone - 540-651-6355
Fax - 540-651-3914



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