Wonder what those three have in common? So did the intrepid group that found its way down the long gravel road past Shannondale to the Rolling Ridge Foundation lands last Sunday afternoon, March 19th. We spent about an hour discussing the Forest Stewardship Plan that had been written for the 1400 acres of Rolling Ridge lands. Recognizing the triple stresses of deer, invasive species, and overcrowded trees, work is underway to improve forest health and resiliency for the sake of the land and its wildlife. Kyle Aldinger talked about a program with Natural Resources Conservation Service that is funding projects in various parts of West Virginia that dovetail with guidelines for habitat improvement for the Cerulean Warbler. Opening up canopy spaces by selective thinning of tree stands and working toward restoring native understory benefits the trees and the warblers – as well as other wildlife.
But what about the horses, you say! And so did everyone standing out in the clearing – until Lars Prillaman and his draft horse, May, trotted up behind them. Lars and May demonstrated a low-impact method of horse-logging to bring logs out of the woods once they have been felled. May calmly listened to Lars’ voice commands and deftly threaded her way between trees, putting 1700 pounds into the job of bringing timber resources out. Then she charmed the crowd while Lars explained how they work together. They are part of a larger collaboration currently underway between Rolling Ridge, TimberLandConsulting, NRCS, Horse in the Forest, and Sustainable Solutions to explore how restorative forestry can be done sustainably and effectively.