Cedar Eradication

The first portion of this project was completed eradicating invasive red cedar on a western Iowa property north of Magnolia.  This area presented some interesting challenges as the site was filled with thousands of open grown cedars.  Terrain did not lend itself towards machine clearing so all work was completed with felling by chainsaw.  These open grown cedars are time consuming and physically demanding to clear due to their massive expansion of branches starting from the base of the tree.  ‘Tunnels’ need cut to access each tree while removing debris in order for chainsaw operation and escape routes on larger trees.

The most important rule to remember is to make sure that all branches are cut down to the bottom of the stump.  If any branch is left with living tissue, that small branch will eventually re-grow into a new cedar tree.  The second portion of this project will follow later in the fall after crops have been harvested to provide access to the next site.  Hickory Ridge Forestry will then move into a site with a higher density of cedars with much closer spacing.  This will change the attack as many of the trees will have naturally pruned themselves.  HRF will provide updates and new photos after moving back into the site later in the fall.


Labor Day weekend was amazing.  The New York Says Thank You organization arrived at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Little Sioux to lend a huge hand with the rebuilding efforts at the ranch.  Projects completed included the construction of an open air chapel, the creation of new hiking trails, prairie bowl reconstruction, the clearing of existing trails, and many other projects.

The chapel was constructed using cedar trees from the ranch and local surrounding areas.  It was erected in time for the closing memorial service and very first church service on Sunday morning.  The chapel is amazing.  It took the work of many skilled and motivated workers from around the country.  We know that the four scouts who couldn’t be with us would be very proud of the efforts and results.

A huge amount of trees, brush, and debris were cleared from a bowl north of the pavilion in an effort to reclaim the bowl to prairie as it used to be many years ago.  With the help of skilled sawyers, hand tools, machinery, and amazing handwork a huge portion of the bowl and hillsides were cleared and exposed to fresh sunlight.

A new trail was blazed north of the chapel with freshly constructed cedar benches and a memorial arch constructed near the apex of the hill overlooking the chapel valley.  South of the camp two crews cleared 2.5 miles of existing trails that had been overgrown and covered with debris from the previous year’s storm.

Firefighters and rescue personnel from New York, Louisiana, Indiana, Texas, Illinois, Kansas, and surrounding areas were all on site and worked extremely hard on all of the projects.  People from all previously effected communities helped by NYSTY were also on site and made all the projected goals a real possibility.

Great new friends were made over the weekend.  HRF would personally like to thank FDNY members Mike, Tom, and Mike for their hard work and new friendships.  HRF would also like to extend gratitude and thanks to Dave and Nina of Indiana for the incredible work and friendship as well.

HRF also wants to thank Jeff and Charlie for all their hard work and dedication.  Without your huge hearts projects like this couldn’t take place.  Thank you for your inspiration.

We don’t know where the project will take us next year, but we will be there.  HRF highly recommends

putting next September on your schedule and planning on taking time out of your lives to help the lives of others in need.  It was awesome.  Huge tasks may seem insurmountable, but with the help of many hands and strong wills we can achieve the unimaginable.

Quail Habitat, SW IA

dsc04011This project is a wonderful undertaking for HRF.   We are eliminating a large amount of invasive woody vegetation on ground that has fallen out of use.  Honey locust trees dominated the landscape.  These thorny trees are being eliminated and piled for later burning.  HRF will follow up that practice with several acres of edgefeathering to provide a soft transition zone for the quail between grassed and timbered areas.  The final steps will add acres into quail specific habitat grass and forbe mixtures and a regiment of prescribed burning.

Hancock, IA Planting

The last tree planting of the spring occurred on a property north of Hancock, IA.  This planting covered just over 7 acres surrounding an amazing pond.  This site was also by far and away the steepest site we planted on this spring.  After stretching the wheelbase of the tractor out a couple feet it found sure footing on the slopes and the trees went in nicely.

We were lucky enough to have a couple of showers move through the area soon after the planting was completed to help all of the seedlings get a jump start on their root establishment.  This will be another showcase property in the future.

Forestry Field Day

We had an excellent field day this afternoon with help from Iowa DNR Forestry, The National Turkey Federation, County Conservation, ISU Forestry Extension, and HRF.  We were able to visit and explore a magnificent property with multiple forestry components along with prairie restoration and an attempt at a savannah creation.  Aside from overcast weather we had a great turnout and a very nice and educational field day.

Tree Shelters/Prairie Restoration

HRF helped with the installation of nearly 400 tree shelters on the Missouri River bottom-land north of Hamburg, IA.  The site had received a direct seeding in 2002 with walnut, oak, hickory, and pecan.  Browsing by deer and rabbit has been excessive up to this point.  It is the hope of the DNR and HRF that the shelters will protect these seedlings as they grow and become established.

Cottonwoods have also started to invade prairie ecosystems that have been established.  In order to make sure the sites do not become overwhelmed HRF has stepped in to eliminate the cottonwood from these prairies.  Stumps were treated to avoid future unwanted growth and the small trees were left to be consumed by prescribed burns in the spring.

Condrey Planting

HRF completed a three acre planting south of Mineola, IA on May 9th.  This site had some challenging slopes but the project was successful.  HRF planted various oaks, black walnut, shagbark hickory, many pines, and some hybrid poplar rows to help train the high quality seedlings.  It is a beautiful site and will provide the owners a wonderful wooded hillside as they prepare to build a home.

Pracht Tree Planting

This tree planting was established on April 20th, 2009 on a newly constructed pond and earthen dam site.  HRF planted approximately  3200 trees and shrubs.   With fresh rain that fell soon after planting, we are hoping for a strong stand of trees for the Pracht family.

Little Sioux Scout Ranch, TSI

Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) project at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch near Little Sioux, Iowa.