Suppressed White Pine Removal in Louisiana Circle

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:16:00 CDT  — by: Nate Wilson

This past summer the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability (OESS) partnered with Facilities Management and the Sewanee Integrated Program in the Environment (SIPE) to thin one of the most prominent remaining white pine plantations on central campus.

The Louisiana Circle pines were planted on at least two occasions in 1961 and 1970 on a portion of the Circle that had once been an open air amphitheater. The stand had not been thinned in 20 years and many of these trees were in decline causing aesthetic and tree safety concerns.

The partnership began with Dr. Scott Torreano, who took his Introduction to forestry class out to assess and age the stand. Using tree ring analysis from increment boring, they were able to establish both the planting dates and confirm overcrowding in the stand.

Domain Manager Nate Wilson and Grounds Superintendent William Shealey marked the trees for removal with an eye toward removing suppressed stems and releasing vigorous pines and hardwoods in the stand.  

The thinning itself was carried out as a joint project between OESS summer workers and Facilities Management staff. For the past two years, OESS has brought in an outside chainsaw instructor to spend a week with students and staff teaching about directional felling and chainsaw safety. The class culminates in a U.S. Forest Service MTDC Chainsaw certification. This year 11 students and four Facilities Management students worked and learned for four days in the stand, felling, bucking, and limbing trees.

Once the class was over, students stayed with Facilities Management employees for another week honing their chainsaw skills. Dr. Torreano again brought out his summer students, this time to view stem sections of the felled trees for growth analysis.

When it was all over, over 50 tons of pulpwood was removed from the stands by the crew. The tops were all chipped on site and used for trail maintenance.


One Domain summer work study student, Glen Ireland, said that, “the projects that Nate has us doing were perfect real life applications to my studies in natural resources. In the classroom, we learn about silvicultural practices such as "thinning from below" (as was done in Louisiana Circle) but to actually see the stand before and after in real time, as well as be on the ground performing the thinning with our newly acquired chainsaw skills, was an extremely beneficial experience.”

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