The regeneration of forests at Catawba Run continues this year with the latest drum chop and burn treatment on 30 acres.  The goal of the treatment was to clear away the dense thicket of stunted loblolly pine and other unmanaged regrowth of past clearcuts to make way for new plantings of short leaf pine, mixed hardwoods including oak and hickory, and other plantings to improve wildlife habitat.

Drum-chopping involves the use off large wheel or drum full of water which is pulled behind a bulldozer with sharpened blade in front. The blade cuts through  trees and shrubs near the ground and the drum follows behind, laying down the trees and shrubs in a thick mulch on the ground. Drum-chop is a cheaper alternative to heavier mechanical operations like cutting and raking, and also maintains the integrity and health of the soil for future planting. After chopping, the cut trees and shrubs are burned in place. This reduces the risk of wildfire and also creates an ideal environment for planting young trees.

Our drum chop treatment uses monitored burns to reduce the risk of wildfire and create ideal growing environments for young trees like our recent short leaf pine planting.

Logs, remnants, and smoke after the burn.

This July we treated almost three times the acres of the first drum-chop treatment last year.  This means that we have completed our original 4-year goal of 40 drum-chopped acres at Catawba Run in just two years.  We decided to speed up our forest regeneration plan after the first burn and planting last year because we were so impressed with last year’s results.  We are looking forward to getting the new acres planted in short leaf pine early next year.  Check out our first forest regeneration blog for more info on this treatment and our other plans for managing the forests at Catawba Run.

Map of the total drum chop and burn area (crosshatched) for 2020. The striped area of the map shows our planned treatement for 2021. Although the original plan was to treat about half the acreage this year, our first drum chop was so successful that we decided to increase the number of acres treated this year.  

Catawba Run is 275 acres of old growth, unmanaged regrowth, and sustainable pine plantation located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, near Nebo, just west of Morganton. This land is the setting for Foragable Community’s next demonstration of our shared values: to use ecological management practices and resilience principles to restore the health and wellbeing of degraded landscape, and concurrently have a positive impact on the lives of people who participate in this vision of redemption and renewal.

The Catawba Indian Nation are the descendants of the original inhabitants of land that we call Catawba Run. The Catawba, or “the people of the river” pronounced yeh is-WAH h’reh in their native tongue, were farmers, renowned potters, and stewards of the land in most of the Piedmont of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Southern Virginia. Foragable Community acknowledges that Catawba Run is on this ancestral land.