Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

Nov 12, 2018 – According to a forestry report “Planting the right trees and removing the wrong ones can both be part of effective deer habitat management. You might need to remove trees for timber stand improvement (selecting low-value tree species to allow sunlight and other resources to go toward understory growth or other high-value trees) or to control non-native invasive tree species that are consuming space that could be occupied by valuable native plants.”

On average, the cost of thinning forests through hack-and-squirt while leaving the dead trees standing is about $250 per acre, said Greg Giusti, a forest advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension. The cost of cutting and leaving them on the ground is about $750 an acre, while cutting and hauling them away is about $1,000 an acre.




 

One of the simplest and most effective techniques for removing select trees and large shrubs without cutting them down is called the “hack-and-squirt” method, or bark injection.

Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

Cal Fire too has expressed concern over volatile forest conditions. In anticipation of a severe fire season, the state agency has increased its staffing and is warning residents to clear debris from around their homes, something Williams finds ironic in light of what he sees as Cal Fire’s passive reaction to the added fuel load from chemically killed trees.

Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

“The real plus for injection and cut-and-treat is you target the plants you want to control and you leave those you want to encourage, and there are probably no safer methods of treatment than these two,” said Dr. Jim Miller, a research ecologist and team leader at the G.W. Andrews Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Auburn, Ala. Jim is also a co-author with Dr. Karl Miller of the book Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses.

Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

Girdling, or chopping a deep ring completely around the trunk of a tree to cut off circulation, was for decades the best method for killing unwanted trees. However, Jim said, girdling only kills the tree above the ring, and many species are very good at coming back from root sprouts. “You can actually multiply your problem by just girdling or cutting down the tree,” said Jim, “especially with invasive like tree of heaven, chinaberry or privet. That’s why herbicides are best.”

The Hack-and-Squirt Method

“Hack-and-squirt is a very simple method,” said Jim. “If a tree has a main stem, merely place cut marks around it and inject the herbicide. However, how you make those cuts is important.”

Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

To start with, use a sharp tool such as a machete, brush axe or hatchet. Chop into the trunk at chest height, being sure to penetrate the cambium layer below the bark. The cut should form a “cup” that will hold the herbicide. If the bark splits on either side of the cut, or if the angle of the cut is too shallow, herbicide will leak out. This will not only reduce the effectiveness of the application, it could kill nearby non-target plants if the herbicide is soil active and is washed into the soil by rain.

The number of cuts made in the tree will vary depending on the herbicide used. Always read the label for appropriate dosages, cut spacing, and mixing instructions. For large trees requiring multiple cuts, space the cuts evenly around the trunk. For trees and shrubs with multiple trunks, be sure to treat every trunk.
Keep in mind that Arsenal AC is soil active and can injure or kill non-target plants if accidentally spilled or washed off equipment near desirable plants.

Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

Two other herbicides used widely for bark injection are Garlon 3A and 2-4,D Amine, although Arsenal AC seems to have the widest range of species effectiveness. With any herbicide, consult the label for a list of species that are killed by the product. Every herbicide is better at killing some species while less effective on others. Also be sure to wear appropriate clothing and protective equipment as recommended by the label.

When Hack-and-Squirt is Effective

“This method is effective almost any season except early spring,” said Jim. “When you have that heavy sap flow and sap rise, it can wash the herbicide right out of the cut. Otherwise, late winter, summer and fall are fine. In the South, the sap starts flowing in March or into April. It will start later in the North.”

Another timing factor is rainfall. Do not apply herbicide if rainfall is forecasted. Rainfall within a day or two of the application can wash the herbicide out of the cut.

About Root Grafting

A concern with injecting herbicides is root grafting — trees of similar species often have interconnected roots, and injecting one can kill the other. This is only a concern if you are using bark injection to thin desirable species, such as oaks, according to Jim.

“Root grafts are usually species-to-species,” he said. “Usually you don’t have to worry about that when treating invasive. I’ve seen damage to non-target species in a mixed stand, but it’s usually considered to be a result of a soil-active herbicide washing from the cut into the soil or using too much herbicide.”

Trump Right? Hack-and-Squirt the Forest. Why This Created the Huge California Fire Hazard.

Mendocino Redwood Co. officials say hack-and-squirt operations are crucial to restoring its forests to their original, conifer dominated state. The tree compositions have been altered by decades of overcutting and poor management under prior ownerships, company officials said. They contend the practice of leaving dead trees in place does not increase fire risks significantly.

Williams and others disagree. He said he became alarmed by the massive number of dead trees standing in the forests in and around his district, and launched a campaign against the practice, which he and other critics contend has enhanced the likelihood of fires and increased the danger of fighting forest fires.

An estimated 1.5 million trees are being killed and left standing in Mendocino County forests each year, Williams has said. Mendocino Redwood Co. uses the practice extensively on the 228,852 acres it owns in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Its affiliate, Humboldt Redwood Co., owns an additional 209,300 acres, where the method also is practiced.

Mary Greeley News
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credit: https://www.qdma.com/hack-squirt-timber-stand-improvement/
https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/5800207-181/mendocino-countys-hack-and-squirt?sba=AAS

Debate Over “Hack & Squirt” Treatment