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  • Writer's pictureHeather Mack

Why Forest Management is "Ground Zero"

Updated: May 12, 2023

We have spoken in the past about providing wellness for our guests while also restoring and regenerating our natural environment. With our project site spanning an incredible 550 acres, one major aspiration is to return the forest to its glory days from some three hundred plus years ago, which includes restoring the chestnut-oak-hickory complex.

In order to do this, we plan to create a “living laboratory” to test various ecological practices across the differing topologies, geologies, and micro-climates that we have on our site. This includes a primary motive of discovering the best way to re-introduce the American chestnut. As part of a recent site tour with our architectural team, Tim Murphy from Regenesis talks about these goals and we wanted to share a clip from that experience (click


To succeed both on our site and outside our boundaries, deep partnerships are critical. To that end, we recently invited both Department of Forestry and the Virginia Tech Extension office to tour our location.

On this great learning expedition, we discussed the criticality of selective harvesting, where certain trees are selected for harvest and others are left on the site for erosion control, wildlife habitat, re-vegetation and to maintain biodiversity and protect water quality.

We also learned about improvement cutting, a critical component as this removes individual trees that are defective, have poor growth or may be damaged by insects, disease, or other agents. It improves species composition, stem quality and/or growth rate of the forest. Invasive species management was also a big topic.

In terms of involving our guests, a great idea that emerged is to use horse-logging for our timber management practices. Going back thousands of years, a horse-driven approach with a portable sawmill causes less logging damage to the wood stand because of its low-pressure impact on the ground and surroundings. We also discussed bringing guests over to Devil’s Backbone state land that borders our property where the Department of Forestry demonstrates various healthy forest management practices.

In terms of the American chestnut, we discussed carving out large sections of the property to re-introduce chestnut trees. Over a century ago, almost 4 billion American chestnut trees were growing in the eastern US until a blight fungus wiped them out. The chestnut blight has been referred to as the greatest ecological disaster to strike the world’s forests in all of history.

We will now work on creating a forestry management plan and look forward to building partnerships with the Department of Forestry, the Virginia Tech Extension Office, the American Chestnut Foundation, and other similarly aligned organizations.


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