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Well, the biggest one we know of is in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee; it is 136 feet tall, and the trunk is 19 feet in circumference. That’s a big tree! Buckeyes are choosy within their restricted range, they only grow in the best soils but once established they can live for more than three hundred years.
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As remarkable as it may seem, according to the Forest Service Silvics Manual, “no information is available as to the age at which yellow buckeye trees begin bearing seeds, the number of seeds produced by individual trees, the conditions favoring seed production, or the frequency of seed years.” We do know that once an old-growth forest containing buckeyes is clear-cut, no buckeyes will return for the first fifteen years. In forty years, there will be only buckeye saplings.
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So if you cut your buckeye trees, you will not see them as large trees again in your lifetime. We are losing them before we even understand them, and buckeye wood is not even very useful. Chances are those trunks will be used for pulp to make paper, maybe the type you write on, or maybe the type in your bathroom on the little roll.
Most of the forest lands in the East are privately owned. I wonder how many landowners who sign logging contracts even know what species they have. Often the contracts are for such generous amounts of money that the overwhelmed forest owners are willing to let the loggers do almost anything. I think this is the point at which we lose control of our own land.
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I urge anyone about to sign a logging contract to consider removing five or ten or fifty acres, whatever you can afford, from the logging plan. Watch that reserved corner age, watch how beautiful it becomes, compare it to the logged areas. Let your own senses tell you what is best for your land.
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