It is nice to see someone managing a precious resource with wisdom. My friend Karl has a very valuable resource, and he is really smart about how he cares for it. He could teach a lot of big corporations, property owners and land developers a thing or two about this subject.
Ohio has a certain amount of natural resources such as coal, oil and natural gas, but what we have now is all we are going to get. Those resources took thousands of years to form, and we will need to have reliable alternatives once they are depleted.
We have another great resource in our rich topsoil. It allows our farmers to produce huge harvests and do much more than their part in feeding the world. Battling erosion and saving that precious soil is something we need to be more diligent about, as an insurance policy to keep those crops coming.
The resource Karl is caring for is a renewable one, and one that will keep on producing in the future, if properly managed. That's what makes his efforts so commendable. He is a smart guy who understands how this all works.
Karl has a piece of ground where Mother Nature decided to place some of her most majestic projects. Massive oaks, huge poplars, tall and straight shagbark hickory trees, stubborn ironwoods and aromatic wild cherry trees - those are just some of the tenants in the large woods where, for more than half a century, Karl has been caring for a living, breathing menagerie of the best of what Ohio has to offer.
Recently, a very selective harvest took place in this beautiful, rolling woodlot, where squirrels rule the tree tops, deer feast on the blanket of acorns that the healthy oaks provide, and a growing band of wild turkeys scratch the ground and find plenty to eat.
But it is the trees that make this place a little slice of heaven. They stretch their necks toward the sky, reaching for that life-giving sunlight. They spread their roots into that rich, deep, black soil that has been re-charged for centuries with composting leaves and other organic material.
A small number of the oldest members of this woods were dominating the landscape. Some of them had been there for a century or more, crowding out all the competition and spreading their huge canopies of branches and limbs in a wide swath. Karl decided it was time to harvest a few trees so many more could thrive.
So a few of the biggest hardwoods came down, carefully felled so as not to damage the surrounding trees, and to preserve the value it had taken a hundred years or more to establish. A lumberjack with skills to match those of a surgeon put the big boys on the ground, and then managed the loading and removal of these massive trees.
They went to sawmill operations in Ohio and Indiana where they would provide beautiful veneers and strong furniture lumber, with a grain so detailed and beautiful that an artist could not recreate it in a thousand centuries. Properly cared for, the wood from these great trees will last for centuries, treating generations to its strong, simple beauty.
After this selective harvest, a whole new generation of trees are dominating the sky as you gaze up from the floor of Karl's woods. All of the trees that used to struggle to compete with the big boys now will flourish, and someday grow to be the kings of this forest.
It is the belief of many that the Creator put natural resources here on earth for mankind to use, but use wisely. We eat the fish we catch, but we only take a few. We harvest wild game, but always leave many more than we take. We work the ground to grow crops, but do so wisely so as not to damage or lose the precious soil.
Out in Karl's woods, a smart, selective harvest followed this same principle. Taking out a few of the most mature trees has provided a treasured resource of premium hardwood lumber for many projects, and given the rest of the trees in that forest their chance to grow into the next generation of great rulers of the woods.
Matt Markey is The A-T outdoors columnist.
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