Friday, June 21, 2013

Leaving a legacy

By Amber Brocke, NRCS District Conservationist

Clearwater County landowner Gordon Hubbard saw potential on his property located on the south facing slopes of the Clearwater River canyon. “All I had was a bare hillside with a little bit of brush, so I decided I might as well do something with it,” Gordon stated.

And he certainly did do something. In 1999, Gordon began working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to obtain a conservation plan and to receive cost-share to establish trees on his property.

Gordon hoped that by planting trees he could control weeds, add cover to the hillside, and take advantage of land that wasn’t being utilized. He noticed that on the harsh south facing slopes that yellow star thistle did not grow below the canopy of existing trees. He decided that establishing more trees would be a good way to reduce the weed pressure on his property.

Gordon implemented shade cards, utilized a chemical spot treatment for weed control, and also used tree tube protectors to deter wildlife browsing when he planted his seedlings.

Gordon invested much effort to get his trees established, including the annual maintenance of the tree tubes, implementing rodent control, and spot spraying to reduce weed competition.

All of these efforts were essential in allowing Gordon to establish a successful stand of young Ponderosa pine trees. Gordon utilized a number of NRCS programs to eventually plant approximately 20 acres of pines in various locations on his property. He also planted other areas on his own without cost-share assistance.

Each planting site was slightly different, with some sites requiring difficult site preparation in order to remove competition from existing brush species.

Frank Gariglio, Idaho NRCS State Forester, developed the tree planting specifications and provided the technical assistance for Gordon’s plantings.

Gariglio emphasizes the importance of good up-front planning and dedicated maintenance in getting a tree stand established. “You just can’t plant the trees and walk away,” Gariglio stated, “Gordon was able to address a number of risk factors to his planting and overcame them all.”

This is an excellent example of a project that succeeded due to hard work and persistence by the landowner. His vision of the potential of his property allowed him to achieve his desired goal of “leaving a legacy.”

Gordon was also one of the first landowners in the area to take advantage of cost-share assistance programs from the NRCS for forestry practices, where he received financial assistance as well as technical forestry advice which helped him to manage his property.

Applications are available at the Clearwater County NRCS for private forest landowners to apply for cost-share assistance. Landowners can receive assistance to develop a Forest Management Plan as well as cost-share to implement specific forestry practices, including tree planting, pre-commercial thinning, pruning, and others. Please contact NRCS at (208) 476-5313, Ext. 3 for more information on cost-share and technical assistance opportunities. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Gordon Hubbard and Frank Gariglio (l to r), Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service State Forester, next to the stand of trees planted with cost-share and technical assistance from NRCS.

This is Gordon Hubbard’s stand of trees 12 years ago, after it had been recently planted.

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