Dirt from the Field-January 2012

-We have had lots of activity going on at Watson Woods this past month!  One thing that is especially exciting is that we are making significant progress in getting much of the large, downed, woody debris that has been scattered throughout Watson Woods since our forest fires in 1997 and 2005.  This past week (January 12th-18th), Arizona Public Service Company (APS) was extremely kind enough to donate an Asplundh Tree Expert Company Crew to “mop up” and cut a majority of the downed trees and limbs into firewood size pieces.  The plan is gather the wood and donate it to various community service organizations and families in need of firewood.

Many of you know that downed trees are a natural occurrence in forested ecosytems, and provide many habitat benefits like rookeries, perches, shade, cover, food sources, and middens (dens) for rodents.  Also, a decaying tree returns nutrients to the soil, ultimately strengthening the forest’s ability to support new vegetative growth and other biological processes.  However, due to the extremely large volume of dead wood (a lot of which was partially burned from the previous fires), we felt that the chance of this wood contributing to another fire was too great, and that something had to be done.

Before the crews arrived, I walked through the entire preserve to identify and designate areas to avoid in order preserve a variety of features to maintain the habitat benefits I described above.  Also, I was present throughout the process actively supervising the crew, which I must say did a fantastic job and were sensitive to our goals and objectives.  I think that once all of the cut wood is removed, it will be hard to tell we were even there, and Watson Woods will have obtained its natural features and appearance.  Again, many thanks to APS-a donated crew of 20 professional sawyers for 4 days…what an awesome contribution!  For more information on APS, please visit

–As for the firewood, I have been in touch with several organizations and families, but there is so much wood to give away…We already have several volunteer groups lined up to move the wood out, and now need somewhere for it to go-Our goal is to provide families, shelters, and individuals that need the wood so please, contact us with any suggestions!

Until next month,


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