Wedge and Tong: Cutting Trees, Saving the Forest

I appreciated the space in the Sunday Roanoke Times devoted to the Rutledge’s Healing Harvest Forest Foundation’s horse-logging practice.

Healing Harvest is based in the Floyd County community of Copper Hill. The nonprofit was established in 1999 to support sustainable forestry and animal-powered logging. They advocate a “worst-first,” single-selection cutting program. That means choosing to cut individual trees, taking weak, diseased and unwanted trees first and leaving healthy trees to continue to grow.

“What’s important is what’s left,” Jason Rutledge said.

Cutting the weakest and least desirable trees opens up the forest for other growth, he said. Not only trees, but also mushrooms and ginseng — which Healing Harvest will help landowners cultivate — can thrive in a healthy forest.

“You can’t have them without the forest,” Jason Rutledge said. “You can’t grow them in a clear cut.”

Watch Jason’s team of Suffolk draft horses, Wedge and Tong, do their work in a short video at the Roanoke Times link above.

Read more about Healing Harvest in Floyd County, Virginia.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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