Explosives to be used to take down hemlocks

Explosives to be used to take down hemlocks

08 November 2010

published by www.citizen-times.com

USA —  The Forest Service will be using fire line explosives to take down about 150 hemlock trees in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, mainly along trails where falling limbs could be hazardous to hikers.

The trees vary in width and height, but some are as big as 45 inches in diameter. They are mainly along the lower portion of the Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail.

The explosives, which are used to build fire lines in remote areas or blast rock, will be wrapped around the trunk of the trees at varying heights.

The force of the blast will cause the tree to snap, sending the upper portion of the tree to the forest floor.

The explosion won’t be “anything spectacular or a big huge Hollywood explosion,” said Scott Haas, operations assistant ranger with the Forest Service.

“We are trying to mimic what it would look like during a natural wind event,” he said. “We want to try for it to look like something that occurred naturally.”

The Forest Service conducted an analysis to determine what approach to felling the trees would create the least impact to the area, which is a wilderness area.

They determined the explosives would most closely mimic a natural event, limit the visual impact and be the safest for workers.

The blasting project will cost $32,500 in materials and enlists the help of an experienced Forest Service blaster.

Some trails in the area, including the Joyce Kilmer National Recreation Trail, are expected to be closed through Nov. 14.

“The main impetus behind the project is visitor safety,” Haas said. “We are taking that risk out.”

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