Carl Struck and Johanne Riddick’s Ponderosa restoration effort in New Mexico has grown into a diverse, robust ecosystem. Recently, Struck and Riddick have been recognized as NACD Soil Health Champions for their work.
“Our initial management goals did not include supporting and increasing soil health,” Struck said. “The condition of the soils came into focus later. We had a nice uneven-age stand, but after looking closely at the soils, we became concerned with biodiversity and ways to support micro-organisms.”
Struck and Riddick purchased Spirit Hill in 1987, not knowing the complete history of the property or how depleted the soils were. Initially, their goal was to restore the 40-acre Ponderosa pine forest, which stands at an elevation of 8,500-feet, southeast of Penasco. Once they started, Struck said, it inadvertently turned into soil health efforts.
Struck will be sharing his practices and acquired knowledge during a New Mexico Tree Farm Spring Field Day on May 15. The event will focus on supporting forest soil health and biodiversity.
Over the past 35 years, as Struck has undertaken different projects on the land, he has discovered intended and unintended results in his methods. Fortunately, the majority of the unintended consequences have been forest and soil enhancing.