Mechanized Grinding

DSC07634This summer allowed HRF the opportunity to complete projects using a mechanical grinding forestry machine.  The projects focused on reducing unwanted vegetation and allowing sunlight to reach the ground where it had been blocked for many years.  One project focused on woodland restoration in preparation for future re-planting.  A secondary project focused on restoration or natural prairie for pheasant and quail habitat improvement.

2014 Plantings

photo 5The quantity of plantings was not large in the spring of 2014, but HRF still planted nearly 50,000 trees over the course of 4 project areas.  Three private landowners improved their properties greatly with the addition of acres converted into future forests.  The Iowa DNR added 71 acres of new forestland with HRF planting in excess of 43,000 trees along the Missouri River bottomlands at Nottleman Island Wildlife Management Area.

LHSF 2014

DSC07412HRF makes the trek back up to the Loess Hills State Forest once again and this time finds itself in the Little Sioux Unit.

The hills and the time of year certainly don’t disappoint.  The terrain is steep, the temperatures are bitterly cold, and the wind has continued to blow measured by such words as ‘Gale Force’.The following short video clip shows a peaceful respite one afternoon from the winds. MOV07407

The project will have great results in the future as countless high quality hardwoods are released from their surrounding competition.  The LHSF is always a challenge but is also accordingly rewarding.

Loess Hills Rehabilitation

DSC07381This project brought HRF back to an incredible property near Thurman.  Main goals of this phase of improvements were to reduce an undesirable low and mid-canopy layer of ironwood and the continuation of the battle against Honeysuckle.

It was a beautiful time to work in these woods with the Autumnal colors bursting from every vantage.  With new light reaching the forest floor natural oak and hickory regeneration will explode.

With projected prescribed fire activity on this property it will continue its strides towards becoming one of the premiere properties found within the southern Loess Hills of southwest Iowa.

Prairie Restoration

HRF had the great opportunity to return to a property it had completed work on several years ago.  The previous project involved forest stand improvement (FSI).  This spring the project was geared toward the restoration of upland prairie within the southern Loess Hills.

HRF worked on ground with difficult access points and steep terrain.  A hydraulic tree shear coupled with a rubber tracked compact track loader handled the brunt of the work.  Although the terrain presented challenges the rubber tracked machine performed wonderfully.  The tree shear was able to cut of the cedars nearly at ground level and will leave the project areas ready for a nice spring prescribed burn in the spring of 2014.

DSC07274The final area was too steep and treacherous for the track loader.  At this point HRF switched back to the chainsaw to complete the rest of the cedar eradication.  The transformation of this property continues and HRF is proud to have had a small hand in its restoration.

Following this project is a upland prairie restoration at Folsom Point.  The majority of the project encompasses eastern red cedar eradication along with low quality woody deciduous reduction as well.  After the completion of this project over twenty new acres will have exposure to full sunlight allowing native prairie seed to take hold in efforts to reinvigorate the ridgelines with native vegetation.


HRF planted nearly 35,000 trees this spring.  Most recently nearly 31,000 seedlings and 200 larger potted stock were planted for the Army Corps of Engineers and Iowa DNR over 40 acres near the Missouri River south of Bartlett.  All larger potted trees were planted using a rubber tracked compact track loader equipped with an 18″ hydraulic auger.

DSC07233HRF used the same auger system to help with the restoration and reforestation of a small timbered property heavily affected by the flooding of 2011 using high quality larger air pruned stock from Iowa Native Trees and Shrubs.  Also completed was a project near Sioux City decimated by the 2011 flooding with heavy seedling plantings along with tree shelter installation on all seedlings.

Also completed was the final area of the black chokeberry planting that started in 2012 and culminated at the end of April.  We are proud to say that over 99% of the stock planted last year survived the brutal summer heat and drought conditions even without irrigation.  This project now has nearly 8500 plants in their infancy well on their way to an amazing black chokeberry farm.

HRF was able to complete all plantings in the month of May finishing up on May 31st!  Hopefully favorable weather conditions will continue and allow all newly established trees optimal growing conditions.


Late Fall Forest Restoration

Hickory Ridge Forestry spent the majority of late fall in the southern Loess Hills near Thurman, IA.

HRF helped to complete a forest restoration project revolving around the enhancement of a oak/hickory upland hardwood forest.  Before the thinning the amount of sunlight reaching the forest floor was minimal.  Light admittance was restricted by a heavy mid-canopy and understory consisting primarily of ironwood.  A few other assorted invasive and undesirable species were found in these woods as well.

HRF performed a heavy thinning of these affected acres and the changes were drastic and immediate.  Light will easily filter to the forest floor allowing better opportunities for oak/hickory regeneration along with other species of Loess Hills flora that will enhance wildlife.  Invasive and undesirable species were also dealt a heavy blow but will require the future management of a prescribed fire regime in order to complete the restoration and manage the property.   

9/11 Memorial Bench

Opportunity arose to create and dedicate a bench for the National 9/11 Memorial.  This bench is dedicated in honor of all first responders…by first responders.  Every person who lent a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, or offered a prayer of hope has a place on this bench.

This bench symbolizes the strength and solidarity of the American people.  Many will rest and reflect while waiting to enter the memorial.  It is the least I can do to aid in the healing of a country.

Included are photos of the Horse Soldier Statue symbolizing our country’s first responders overseas.  This statue honors the unseen, unsung heroes critical to the success of our military’s ventures, and a brotherhood formed in a foreign country.  Also, view the resiliency of a city devastated, in the construction of one of the most amazing buildings of our time.  Finally…a small glimpse of the reason why all these activities have occurred…and the reasons why we will never forget.

Stephens Post Harvest

Hickory Ridge Forestry completed nearly 90 acres of post harvest thinning at Stephens State Forest near Chariton, IA.  This area is now ready for wonderful regeneration of high quality hardwoods with nearly full sunlight reaching the forest floor.

Certain complications arise with each project with this one no different than the rest.  Unfortunately the majority of the work occurred within one of the hottest stretches of summer Iowa has seen in many years.  Most days the forecast air temperatures were easily above 100 degrees.  On the forest floor HRF regularly recorded temperatures ranging from 110-115 degrees.  Without a doubt the heat made working conditions brutal and the danger of heat exhaustion or worse the primary safety concern.

The project revolved around the reduction of smaller diameter  timber left over after the logging operation two years ago.  This process removed the remainder of the understory and mid-canopy layers allowing sunlight to flood the forest floor.  Natural oak regeneration is already taking place and with the inclusion of full sunlight the hope is their growth will take off at a phenomenal rate.  These new seedlings are the beginning of the next forested stand that might be viewed at maturity by our grandchildren!

Northern Loess Hills Planting

This planting took place in Northern Monona county in some of the most prestigious areas of the Loess Hills a person could imagine.  Restoration in this area has been intensive and impressive on both the private and public fronts.  This particular property is no exception.

HRF helped to plant nearly 3000 new seedlings in reclaimed pasture ground within the hills.  Walnuts and various oaks are the predominate species within the three areas of planting.  Sycamore, black cherry fill in the rest of the panting.  After planting HRF installed a 5′ tree shelter on every seedling planted.  These shelters will greatly reduce chances of mortality from mammal browse.  The shelters will also help with the growth of the seedlings helping to naturally prune each tree for a few years and help train them to grow straight.

These trees are just one of the many areas of restoration taking place but it is going to be really great to watch them grow and mature.  Look forward to new updates next year as HRF plants an additional area with new species.