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He Built A Business With Fire
Gerry Hawkes has built a business cleaning up problem invasive plants and brush using customized fire equipment that includes a flaming system and a commercial shredder/mulcher with protective brush guards he designed.
    “With the system I built, 2 guys can flame-kill problem brush all day and not run out of gas,” says Hawkes, Forest Savers, LLC. “My tanks and rack system can be mounted to a 3-pt. hitch or a front loader. The shredder/mulcher mounts on the rear. I can couple on up to 100 ft. of hose to reach into wetlands or steep ground.”
    The design of the brush guards, including 2 forward braces ahead of the operator, is based on years of experience. Full side and rear guards protect the operator as he drives against or backs into brush.
    Hawkes is hired to clean up invasive brush, improve wildlife habitat, and build trails. He often works for farmers wanting to reclaim pastures and field edges. Hawkes has even refreshed a cross-country running trail.
    “I used the shredder to plane down the exposed and protruding roots,” says Hawkes.
    A bi-directional rake he designed mounts on the loader arms of his Kubota. It can be used to pull roots from the soil and more. “We’ve cleaned up old fence lines, hooking on to fences and dragging them out along with posts and brush,” says Hawkes. “We push them up into a ball and come back in a year and burn it, reclaiming any steel posts afterwards.”
    Where Hawkes can’t get in with the shredder, the flame system gets the job done. He has used it instead of herbicides, knocking back a big infestation in year one. Then he follows up in year two to finish it off.
    “I can use a long burner wand to reach deep into an otherwise impenetrable clump or thicket and deliver a high intensity flame,” explains Hawkes.
    While Hawkes operates mostly in and around Vermont, he is confident there is a wider market for the services he offers...and the system he has developed. He points to the spread of tick-borne Lyme disease. There is increasing client interest in controlling or reducing tick habitat. He also sees brush fire risk reduction as another growing opportunity.
    “I am looking for a person or persons who can help grow this business,” says Hawkes.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Forest Savers® LLC, 796 Wayside Road Ext., Woodstock, Vt. 05091 (ph 802 356 3215; toll free 866 638-7337; info@forest-savers.com; www.forest-savers.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #5