Hello everyone, looking for feedback on plan to build a slash wall with a skid steer and fork attachment.

The timber harvest is at a nature center, clearcutting a red pine plantation (1 ac) and aspen stand (1 ac) and group selection on a oak stand (30 ac.).

Harvesting in southern Michigan is all chainsaw, no pulp market. Typically red pine and aspen are tough to sell, but I found a (horse!) logger with niche buyers.

A logger in northern Michigan (big pulp market) built me a wonderful slash wall with a feller buncher, but no mechanized logger would come south.

So, I will hire my amazing contractor who clears autumn olive with a skid steer and mulching attachment. With a fork attachment we will experiment with building a slash wall. Top reach is around 8 feet.

Does anybody have experience with this? Since we can't go 10 feet high, should we build wider? Modify slash size? Different arrangement?

I could document this effort for the CU Extension knowledge base if that would be useful.

Thank you!

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Thanks for sharing this update, James, on what should be a valuable slash wall building experience.  To our knowledge, no one has intentionally tried to build a slash wall yet with a skid steer, though it's a common piece of equipment for moving and piling brush.  Here are some thoughts that may help you:

  • Track loaders (skid steers on tracks) would have greater stability and traction for working on rough ground.  A "skid steer" (tires vs. tracks) would be more limited in its ability to work over stumps, ruts and rocks. That said, I understand that the available equipment may be a skid steer.  If so, you'll need to be more attentive to ground conditions (frozen or dry) to help compensate for the more limited maneuverability. 
  • Based on personal experience, it will be difficult to carry and lift slash on just forks.  What you really need is a brush grapple - or at a minimum, forks with an add-on hydraulic arm to clamp the slash.  You'll find no shortage of such attachments on-line, ranging from grapples for a few thousand dollars to the add-on arms for hundreds of dollars.  In any case, I think it would save a lot of time and frustration and thus be worth the investment. 
  • Large track loaders should have the lift capacity and forward reach to build a full-sized ~ 10 foot high slash wall.  If using a machine with a lower capacity, I would compensate in two ways:  1) try to compact portions of the slash wall within reach of the skid steer loader attachment to increase the freshly-built slash density.  This will reduce initial slumping and extend the useful life wall despite the lower initial height (note: this will increase the amount of slash you need and wall building cost); 2) If you can't go higher, go wider.  For deer at least (may be different for moose or elk), the "cattle guard" effect of older walls is what continues to deter deer. 

Please keep us posted on your progress.  If you share us some rough costs, "tips for next time" and a good picture afterwards, we would like to post to the www.slashwall.info site.  

Thanks for the tips, Brett! My contractor does have a grapple rather than fork, so we should be good.

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