Fort McCoy News Feb. 26, 2016

Installation forestry projects continue through winter

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The winter of 2015-16 has been very busy for the Forestry Office with the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Natural Resources Branch.

"We have a lot going on all over the installation, including several logging companies completing timber-sale work to improve our training and maneuver areas, and we've had tree pruning and other arborist work completed on trees in the cantonment area to improve the health of some of our older trees and improve the structure of the younger trees," said Forester James Kerkman.

One timber sale bid opening is held each year — typically in December, Kerkman said. Sealed-bid sales are administered by the Omaha District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Photo: A contracted arborist prunes branches from a tree at the Fort McCoy cantonment area in late December.
A contracted arborist prunes branches from a tree at the Fort McCoy cantonment area in late December.

"On average, timber sales produce an annual revenue of $200,000," Kerkman said. "Revenue from the timber sales then goes into a Department of Defensewide forestry account and is returned to fund forestry projects on Fort McCoy."

The value of standing timber at Fort McCoy is estimated at more than $14 million, and more than 285,000 cords and 39 million board feet of commercial timber are growing on post. The true value of timber sales, however, is the improvement to training areas, said Forestry Technician Charles Mentzel.

"From a forestry perspective, our mission here is to serve the Army and create training environments that better serve our Soldiers who support future missions in defense of this country," Mentzel said. "While we build on that training mission, at the same time, we find a balance to improve and protect the natural resources of Fort McCoy for years to come."

On the cantonment area, contracted arborists have pruned dozens of trees, and the work continues.

"The contract requires an arborist to do the pruning or directly oversee the pruning to make sure the pruning doesn't cause more harm than good," Kerkman said. "An arborist is trained to make appropriate pruning cuts based on an understanding of branch attachment and tree biology."

Kerkman said pruning provides many benefits, including helping to create and maintain a stronger structure, remove dead and broken branches, keep tree branches off buildings, and improve overall safety in the area around trees.

Many trees need to be pruned properly to keep them away from building roofs or siding, Kerkman said.

"This causes damage and calls to the DPW Help Desk to remove the trees. By having this work done, it saves a lot of possible tree-related problems in the future."

Kerkman said the overall goal is to get the trees into a pruning schedule to keep them healthy and safe for many years.

"Planting a tree is an investment for the future," Kerkman said. "To neglect it could prove to be costly to the installation and provide an unsafe environment for people who work and train at Fort McCoy."

For more information on Fort McCoy Forestry projects and initiatives, contact Kerkman at 608-388-2102.