Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009: Fire to Ice

2009 was a busy, productive year.

A forest fire near our property reminded us that we need to keep working until we finish our fire stewardship work.

In terms of timber, we thinned some stands, doing all of the work ourselves. A new acquisition -- the logging winch -- made a big difference. We had a dozen dump truck loads of slash removed (instead of burning it in place) and it will end up as mulch for sale from Chelan County.

We finally received formal certification from ATFS as a Sustainable Forest. We even got a steel sign to post on the property.

As for the home, we're two steps closer to construction. We got our logs milled! They're stacked neatly in a storage yard, under a huge tarp. The 30 centimeter (7.25") square "cants" will form the walls, rafters and posts of our home.

And our septic system installation turned out to be quite a project, not to mention more expensive than we had planned. But without an approved septic, we wouldn't be able to get a building permit for the house. Now we have plans, cants, a building platform, driveways, water, septic, and phone. The next steps are a foundation and, alas, grid power.

On the financial front, we were approved for funding through the USDA's EQIP program. It adds up to about $1,000 per acre over 4 years, for various fire and timber health practices we need to do. Our current DNR FLEP matching grant expires soon.

With the budget issues in WA, it's no surprise I got practically no response to my proposed program to help small forest owners. Maybe next year.

Now the property is under a foot of snow (more coming soon). The access road is closed to wheeled vehicles until April, and everything is frozen solid. We can travel that last mile by snowmobile or snowshoes, and we're planning to do that on New Year's weekend, weather permitting. But no logging until spring.

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