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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

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By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | September 22, 2011

Base annual tree harvest underway

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

For hundreds of years, this question has been debated, however, for those working aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, it’s not up for discussion - - the answer is yes.

MCLB Albany’s annual tree harvest is underway and will continue for the next several weeks. There are two types of tree harvesting to be conducted here, annual tree thinning and clear-cutting, according Brian Wallace, branch head, Environmental Branch, Installation and Environment Division, MCLB Albany.

“The purpose of the annual tree thinning is to remove some of the timber to help better manage wooded areas for both the health of the forest and wildlife,” Wallace said. “This year, we will also be clear-cutting several areas to make room for future construction projects.”

The annual thinning, which will be conducted in two phases, is based on age of the trees and density of the woods. About 33 acres will be thinned and nearly 48 acres will be clear-cut, Wallace added.

“During the first stage, which we are in now, the tree harvester is cutting as many trees as he can safely, with regards to the location of his equipment to power lines and buildings,” Wallace said. “In the second phase, Public Works will hire another contractor soon to clear the other parts of the base where the tree harvester cannot get his equipment in safely.

“In addition to thinning, this is to prevent trees from falling onto the power lines, which was the case this past winter,” Wallace continued. “Thinning will also help the undergrowth and provide a better habitat for wildlife.”

During the thinning and clear-cutting process, the contractor will cut a 15-50-foot path on both sides of the utility right-aways, which includes overhead power lines and underground sanitary, drinking water and electrical lines.

“The base’s profit for this year’s tree harvest is estimated to be $35,000,” he said.  “However, each time a tree falls onto a power line, the repair cost is about $10,000 and even more if a power pole is involved.  This cost is just for repairs and does not include potential lost productivity of the personnel working onboard the base.”

He said there were four incidents during the winter of 2010 where wind storms knocked down hundreds of trees and caused power to be cut off for hours. 

“Although the harvest does not bring in a substantial amount of money, the base will save more money, especially during the winter storms, by removing the trees in advance,” Wallace said. “The money earned for harvesting trees is put back into the forestry program to buy and maintain equipment such as mowers, tractors, water trucks for controlled burns and the replanting of trees.”

To help offset the harvest, nearly 40 acres will be replanted with native longleaf pine trees in different locations throughout the base including various hunting food plots no longer in use and the old base housing area.

Before the harvest began, environmental specialists consulted with Georgia Department of Natural Resources to help minimize the impact it would have on MCLB Albany’s wildlife, according to Al Belanger, game warden, Natural Resources Section, Environmental Branch.

“Although the program is mostly a timber management program, it also benefits game management,” Belanger said. “Some of the game animals benefiting from the process include deer, rabbits, squirrels and quail.”

Annual thinning areas

*  30 acres west of the truck gate have been thinned.

*  3 acres behind the Auto Hobby Shop are to be thinned.

Clear-cutting areas

* Seven acres behind Building 3700 is being cleared for construction of a geothermal well field to heat and cool the building with a significantly more energy efficient system. An additional two acres is being cleared to the east for utility right of ways

* Fifteen acres of pines will be cut to construct a temporary vehicle test track for Maintenance Center Albany. The main concrete track is in disrepair and will be torn down and rebuilt over the course of the next year. Construction of the dirt track will begin in the next several weeks.

* Four acres behind MCA has been cleared to test heavy equipment such as bulldozers, backhoes and other earth-moving equipment.

* Ten acres west of the Industrial Waste Treatment Plant was cleared for a future construction of a MCA facility.

* Ten acres near Building 1121 has been cleared for future construction of a storage lot.