WELLSBORO — At 18 and a half hands tall at the shoulders — that’s six feet two inches — weighing a ton with feet the size of dinner plates, it’s hard to believe that Dale and Jay leave little footprint on their daily walks through the forest. But they do.
The two are a team of six-year-old Belgian draft horses owned and driven by Lukas Patt of Wellsboro for his business, Patt’s Draft Horse Logging. In recent weeks, the trio of horses and human has been working to remove dying ash and overgrown maple trees from Woodland Park.
The borough council accepted Patt’s bid for the project, specifically choosing a logging method with the least impact on the forested area to the west of the playground, pavilion and open area of the park.
“We wanted to reduce the impact on the wooded area of the park as we have to keep in mind that once the logging is complete, people will resume walking through the area,” said Wellsboro borough manager Scot Boyce Jr. “We did not want to leave wide, unstabilized skid roads, especially with the some of the slopes in the area.”
Patt is removing 95 trees, which should total around 20,000 board feet of lumber, from the wooded section of the park. Neighbors hear little from the operation, other than the occasional buzz of the chainsaw and crash of trees. Once down and cut into eight to 12-foot lengths, he hooks either one or both of the horses to the log and drags it to a clear area.
“With a skidder on wet ground like this, it would leave ruts and tracks,” said Patt. “The horses are lighter and you can’t hardly tell we’ve been there after a couple of months.”
Once in a clearing, the tree trunks will be collected by Cummings Lumber for processing into usable building material.
The smaller branches are left behind to either breakdown to enrich the soil or be collected by neighbors to use as kindling and in summer back yard.
Patt has owned the pair of Belgians for three years.
“I always wanted a team, and the little bit of farm work I had was not keeping them in shape. So we took up logging.”
An excavator by trade, Patt says logging fits into his schedule when construction work slows up in winter.
The project also fits into the borough’s planned four-phase improvements at Woodland Park.
The borough submitted environmental permits last week for the first phase of the project. It will be let for bids, probably in early February 2020, with construction to be completed by the end of November the same year.