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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.


  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,

  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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