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Finding Credence in a Clearcut Revival – Converting a Dying Forest Into Grazing Land

By   /  March 2, 2020  /  3 Comments

In addition to being an article about forest conversion, this is also an example of looking at the resources we manage, paying attention to a site’s potential, and considering what is best for our operations. We hope it inspires you to look around with new eyes.

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In this 2:27 video, John describes this winter’s project: converting a dying forest into pastu
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About the author

John Marble grew up on a terribly conventional ranch with a large family where each kid had their own tractor. Surviving that, he now owns a small grazing and marketing operation that focuses on producing value through managed grazing. He oversees a diverse ranching operation, renting and owning cattle and grasslands while managing timber, wildlife habitat and human relationships. His multi-species approach includes meat goats, pointing dogs and barn cats. He has a life-long interest in ecology, trying to understand how plants, animals, soils and humans fit together. John spends his late-night hours working on fiction, writing about worlds much less strange than this one.

3 Comments

  1. Roger Stauss says:

    Hello John,

    Are you not concerned that using the herbicide cocktail will taint your soil? And years later showing up in your harvest?

    We use a combination of rotational grazing , silviculture, soil PH, and bush hogging to help maintain and expand our pastures. Frost seeding works pretty well too. We’re in Vermont though, with a wet climate…and our turkey’s look really small compared to yours…(insert smiley face)

    I wish you all the best,

    Roger Stauss

    • John Marble says:

      Hi Roger. Please excuse my slothfulness in replying.

      I think your question and concern are valid. I have no real way of knowing the long-term effect of using herbicides on soil.

      Over the past couple of decades I have worked on several large riparian restoration projects that involved removing/controlling invasive plants, Himalayans in particular. The experts in that field constantly struggle with the idea of using chemicals as a part of the process. In the end, I think it’s fair to say I have yet to see a successful restoration project that did not include at least some use of chemicals. Part of it is economics: my spray project expense was about $350. A single pass with a tractor and bush hog might have cost about one-half that much, but would need to be completed several times…every year, forever. And I don’t believe I could actually convince my contractor to beat his equipment up on a site like this. Everything is a compromise, it seems.

      I am interested in using cattle as part of the ongoing battle, and I’m working on that with my “Cows Eat Weeds” friend, Kathy Voth.

      Thanks for writing,
      John

  2. emily macdonald says:

    Really instructive article John. I like how you describe your decision making process, your uncertainty at times, and the difficulties encountered. This is real! Nothing is perfect. I do wish you good luck and would like to hear updates on the project.

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