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Monday, March 7, 2011

3/07/11 TRACKS

Monday, 9:00 AM, 26 degrees, wind W, calm.  The sky is overcast but the sun is sinning through.  Two inches of new snow fell last night, rendering the landscape pristine again.
    I have mentioned before that there seems to be a much greater amount of logging this winter, probably because of increased demand for wood for paper and energy, which raises prices for timber, and in the poor economy land owners need money to pay their property taxes.
    Those who are do not live in a forested area may not be familiar with some of the machinery commonly used in logging.  Modern logging operations often use very specialized big equipment, like this tracked machine that has an arm with a big shears that cuts trees at ground level, after it runs spiked rollers up and down the trunk to de-limb and de-bark the tree.  The same machine places the logs in piles.  A big skid loader skids logs and bulldozes stumps. Of course chain saws are still used in logging.  There is a big difference in logging operations, some being relatively sensitive to the environment, others creating an unconscionable environmental mess.  I am not against proper logging.  Land has to be productive, and good logging practices create excellent wildlife habitat and forest regeneration, and modern, properly regulated forestry is a highly scientific process. Logging is a major industry in Wisconsin, and a mainstay of the northern Wisconsin economy.
    The unusual tracks pictured lead across the marsh on Valley Road that is the headwaters of the North Branch of Pike’s Creek.  They are 2.5 feet or larger in diameter.  They are not snowshoe tracks, as they end going straight up an almost vertical embankment.  They are most probably the impressions of the body of a large animal struggling through deep snow by short leaps and bounds, perhaps one or more deer, or wolves, or maybe a deer chased by wolves.  I would welcome comment, or any other theory.

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