The logging of the old pine trees on the Lookout Track on conservation reserve near the State Highway 1 bridge is well underway. The logging operation is complex involving large trees and difficult terrain. The Department of Conservation have safety concerns for people not taking heed of the warning signs and climbing over safety barriers.
Last week a tourist was fortunately sighted sleeping in the logging site before felling started. Other people have been seen walking through the site, despite the area being fenced off with warning signs. The Department of Conservation would like to stress the hazards that people are risking in entering this site.
The Department of Conservation particularly requested a hauling team to receive the contract for this site, as experience with steep terrain is essential. Experienced chainsaw operator Jeff Flutely explained, “The felling work on this site is hazardous due to the lean of the trees in relation to the contour of the land”. The dead wood in the forest is also keeping the foresters attention. The largest tree that Flutely has felled was 1.2m wide at the base.
To log the pines on the edge of the river bank, the loggers will use machine assisted felling techniques. They will use a machine called a bully, or diggers with an extension called a ‘grapple’, which is like a large claw. The claw clasps the tree, and after the chainsaw operator has made the cuts and moved away to safety, the grapple pulls the tree to the ground in the planned direction.
The Department of Conservation project manager Leith Rhynd explains that it is inevitable that felling on the edge of the river bank, a few of the trees will have to be felled into the river. Resource consents have been granted to remove the trees with diggers via the river. Mr Rhynd explains, “Through a history of consents, the Waikato Regional Council trusts the Department of Conservation to remove the trees with zero to minimum impact on the river”.
The mature pine forest is being felled to remove the hazard of falling trees from anglers fishing below, damage to the river system and to prevent potential infrastructure damage to the State Highway bridge. Much of the area will be replanted in suitable native vegetation during the winter.