Each year, the US Forest Service does a number of “controlled burns” in our area. More often than not, that is the burning of slash. Slash is just a general name for forest debris.
Each time trees are harvested in the forest, there are a lot of branches, needles (it is mostly pine, fir, and larch forests around here and all of these have needles rather than leaves), bark, and so forth, that is left behind.
Further, when there is a forest fire, the trees aren’t burned to the ground in a pile of ash. Many of the trees are left dead but still standing. Many of the trees are dead even without any of the wood being singed. In any event, these trees must be sawed down. Occasionally, even pockets of living trees are often cut down.
In both cases, the debris must be moved and destroyed, in order for the Forest Service to replant the forest. This is often done with the use of bulldozers that push the debris into large slash piles or log decks.
Slash piles are unsightly and they cover a fairly large area with forest garbage. Because of this, the piles are usually burned. Since the forest service does the burning, these are controlled burns.
A couple of years ago, we had a major forest fire near town. Many trees were killed and the cleanup resulted in a huge slash pile bordering a forest service road about five miles from my home. The slash is piled about 20 feet deep, 40 feet wide, and it borders about 10-15 miles of the forest service roads. Once it is all seasoned, it will be burned and once it is burned, the forest service will replant the area with small trees.
All of this serves a purpose, though part of it is wasteful. I thought it might be worthwhile to explain what a slash pile was, how they are created, why they are created, and why they are burned.
Did you know the what, how, and why of forest slash piles before reading this?
I knew some of it