Spring 2012…By The Numbers

This spring has been a very busy time for HRF.  It sometimes seemed as though activities involved with these plantings would never end.  They recently did however, and looking back the numbers are interesting.

This spring HRF planted over 25,000 trees and shrubs.  These trees and shrubs totaled nearly 26 miles of newly planted rows.  A total of 4867 miles were driven to accomplish all plantings.  Approximately 75,000 lbs of mulch were spread by hand.  Nearly 5.5 miles of irrigation tubing were laid out for watering purposes.  Over 3000 tree shelters were installed with over 6000 zip ties being used to attach the each shelter to stake.  Driving these stakes puts the user on the business end of a 3 lb hand sledge.  With  nearly 45,000 swings of the hammer HRF delivered the blow of one 135,000 lb hand sledge!

Numbers are fun to look at after the fact.  They don’t seem to be so impressive in the midst of the work.  All in all it was a successful spring season and we look forward to rounding the corner into the next 10 months of the cutting schedule!

Busy Year

2012 promises to be yet another year full of great projects, timelines to meet, and many acres of restored property.  HRF is certainly excited and ready to handle the tasks that lie ahead.

Spring planting is underway with several planting projects occurring.  From Black Chokeberries, to walnut plantations, to wildlife habitat improvement, HRF will stay busy putting trees in the ground.  Summer is around the corner with a variety of TSI projects with locations all over Iowa and potentially HRF’s initial projects crossing into Nebraska.

With a young new family at home, much work to accomplish, and the unforeseen ahead, 2012 will be a busy year.  Hopefully there will be a day or two to rest by the time winter shows up.

New Beginnings

2012 ushers in many new things.  Who would have thought that it might feel like spring in the middle of January?  It may seem odd but it certainly feels better than 5 degrees with windchills reaching well below that number.

2011 was an enjoyable year at Hickory Ridge Forestry.  We had the opportunity to work on a number of amazing projects, restore incredible properties, and meet some really great people.  Savanna restoration was a large portion of the 2011 season and in the end several properties along the Loess Hills were involved with the savanna restoration project.

We’ll be heading back to the Loess Hills State Forest near Pisgah, IA for the remainder of the 2012 winter season.  It is strange to head back to those woods in January without fridged temperatures and snow, but the complaints will remain to a minimum.

HRF is also greatly anticipating the coming of the next couple weeks as we await the arrival of the newest member of our team.  We’ll soon have a baby girl to help settle the balance of testosterone at home in the HRF household!!!

Winding Down

It seems not long ago that 2011 was just beginning but now we’re looking at wrapping up the last few months.  Things have been very busy this year from forestry happenings to the unbelievable flooding in the Missouri River basin over the last several months.  Luckily the waters have receded, work continues, and a gorgeous fall season is upon us.

Over the course of the next few months HRF will be spending time on improvements at Hitchcock Nature Center, savanna restoration in the southern Loess Hills, and working on land management activities.  The weather is certainly enough to have us excited and motivated for the final push of 2011 before the often forgotten reminder of winter’s cold grasp is upon us again.

Here at HRF we hope everyone gets an opportunity to get outside to enjoy the wonderful fall weather, beautiful colors, and landscapes that western Iowa has to offer.  Perhaps with a little luck our paths will cross…

Autumnal Approach

August is wrapping up and reminding us that summer isn’t over quite yet.  After teasing us with some cool mornings and comfortable afternoons, the heat returns again.  Hopefully this too will soon end with the changing colors of the leaves.

This fall leading into winter will display the transformation of hundreds of acres of woodlands along the leading edge of the Loess hills.  In the coming years travelers will begin to notice these changes as they drive up and down newly rebuilt interstate systems.  Oak savanna restoration is the largest focus of this fall.  It is our hope that this new exposure to light on the forest floor will help stimulate native grasses and forbes lying dormant for so many years.

We look forward to the changing of the seasons, a cool north breeze, and a breath of fresh air after a long year of struggles for so many people.  It’s going to be a good fall…

Flood of 2011

HRF wants to offer it’s sincere condolences to all affected in this flood.  We’re unfortunately seeing levels of devastation not seen in this region in quite some time.  We can only hope that when waters to finally recede people will be able to return to some sense of normalcy although it will take much time for some.

A majority of the family farm’s crops are under water or affected in some way.  The farm is packed up, houses have been moved out of, and it seems like the water creeps closer daily.  It’s now even difficult to find ways to forest projects as roads close daily.

Most of us know someone affected in one way or another.  Do what you can to help when you can as this tragedy continues to unfold for months to come.


Hickory Ridge Forestry had the wonderful opportunity to present forestry to groups of 5th graders recently at Waubonsie State Park in Fremont county for a conservation field day.

It was a beautiful day for a field day as students were introduced to fishing, the parks, wildlife, conservation topics, habitat improvement, and forestry.  Students had the chance to learn about the evolving Loess Hills landscape and measures being taken to improve these sensitive hills.  We were able to touch on timber management, individual tree evaluation and measurement, and reasoning behind tasks to rehabilitate western Iowa forests.

Students enjoyed getting their hands on some of the equipment and tools.  The kids had great questions and were truly engaged in the entire day.  The only real issue was running out of time for all the wonderful interaction that was occurring.  The day was also a testament to the teachers of the day as the kids were responsible, attentive, and most importantly well educated with their knowledge of natural resources.

It was a wonderful day and HRF looks forward to the next opportunity to help out with the kids.


Spring appears to finally be here for real.  The last gasps of winter snows blew themselves out at the end of March and things are slowly starting to show signs of life once again.

This week marks the end of a three month battle of winter, the steep Loess Hills, and Hickory Ridge Forestry.  HRF is putting the finishing touches on the weeding portion of this project to expose the western facing slopes of the hills.  It will be interesting to watch changes take place over the next few years as a fire regime will be put in place to continue with the restoration process.  If things go as planned, one can expect a resurgence of native prairie vegetation to creep in among the remaining higher quality hardwoods.

HRF moves back south to continue some quality property management with savanna restoration and cedar eradication.  It’s also nearly time for tree planting season.  The window is relatively small, but it’s a great time to start putting trees back in the ground for reforestation efforts.  HRF will also be doing several shrub plantings for the re-establishment of sensitive quail habitat.

It’s going to be a busy spring.  It seems as though things never really slow down.  It’s a wonderful indicator of the attention public and private landowners are paying to the improvement of our natural resources.  Look for new photos over the next month as Hickory Ridge Forestry moves into the spring season.

February Update

February ends with Hickory Ridge Forestry still working in the steep hills of the Loess Hills State Forest.  The crop tree thinning is complete and nearly all snow has melted from most slopes.  Without the aid of crampons it would have been extremely difficult at best to cut many of the sections included within the crop tree thinning.

Portions of the weed tree thinning are even more difficult to gain purchase on while sawing.  This time it’s necessary to pull out the cork boots to make sure all available traction is utilized.  The western slopes are a wonderful morph of native prairie remnants and mixed hardwoods.  When HRF is finished with this project mainly oak, walnut, and coffee will remain.

Several new photos have been added showcasing before and after images of thinning along with examples of landscape variation.  It’s a unique landform with amazing features.  More photos will follow nearing the completion of this project towards the end of March.

Our Newest Addition

Although this does not involve forestry or natural resources, it happens to be the greatest thing happening at HRF.

On December 29th, Wes and Jill welcomed Lucas James Adkins into the world.  At nearly 10 lbs. at birth he’s sure to be a force to be reckoned with in the woods in another 20 years or so!  We’re blessed to have a healthy baby boy and are excited to have him home with his two older brothers Mason and Samuel.

Although it would be wonderful to stay home and be with the little fella all day, three young boys in the household can eat you out of house and home.  Wes is back in the woods at the LHSF for the rest of the winter, and it sure makes it worth it to come back home after a long day and have your family ready to see your after a cold day in the woods.