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2011 ALC logo b&wAs mMyles Andersony presidency of the American Loggers Council comes to a close I wanted to sum up the many issues I have spoken to over the past year. While loggers may relate to this specifically, all facets of the wood products industry should be cognizant of what is happening around them.
I often ask myself, “why am I a logger?” Maybe a better question is why does anyone decide they want to be a logger? After doing it for a while, why do we continue and not go down another career path?
Many people we went to school with and many of our associates believe an eight hour a day, five days a week job is grueling. In our business, we’re lucky if we get away with an occasional twelve hour day. When you do get home before dark; in the back of our minds we wonder what did we forgot to do that resulted in this unexpected luxury.
We all remember the night that the yarder or the loader broke down and we worked late into the evening to get it ready for the next day. We come home later than normal, filthy dirty, only to meet our wives at the back door with that look on their face and the infamous comment “you could have called me”. If it isn’t concern for our safety, it is the amazement that we would choose to fix a piece of broken down iron over going to a child’s sporting event or recital. Logging is a hard business; most wives would agree being married to a logger is nearly impossible.
For those of us that don’t mind working long hours and are lucky enough to have a wife that is understanding, we still face a few more challenges. While most of our neighbors live in wood houses they have a serious problem with cutting down trees. It seems we are forever explaining the resilience of the forest and the need to manage it. I like to explain that if we don’t manage the land Mother Nature will and the current fires in the Pacific Northwest are a good example of that type of management.
When our neighbors don’t approve of cutting down trees, the regulators jump on the bandwagon with good intentions, but the cumulative impact of these regulations is never really considered. This is another challenge for the loggers, and in the state of California, the system has all but ground to a stop by regulation.
A discussion of the challenges faced by loggers is not complete without talking about the people we log for. We all have worked for some of the finest people there are; fair, respectful and honest. We as the logging industry must remember to thank them every chance we have and do all we can to help them survive in a tough industry. We have also all worked for other
As We See It
Why Are We Loggers?
landowners that seem to stay awake at night trying to come up with ways to make our lives miserable. When a landowner acts unethically it is not done in a vacuum, the environmental community, regulators and all their neighbors know it and any hard earned trust that may have been achieved is out the window. As we all know in our industry, trust is important, hard to achieve, and easy to lose.
So back to my original question, why are we loggers? I believe it is because we enjoy the challenge, we do something that many can criticize but few can actually do. We enjoy actually accomplishing something every day and associating with people that have a strong work ethic. In a world where so many people sit in offices answering a phone or some other equally boring job, our job is never boring, it may be hard, dirty and dangerous, but not boring.
Another question that must be asked is why we see so few people coming into this industry. While there are many simple reasons, I believe it also has to do with the attitude and expectations of the new breed of large forest landowners. Our timberland historically was owned by people that respected the land and had a long term vision of management. More often than not, now timberland is considered a commodity and managed by accountants. In some instances the owning entity has little or no connection to the ground, shows no respect for the people that do the work on it and don’t seem to understand or chose to ignore how their management decisions impact the land and the communities that depend on it.
Issues like these keep a logging business owner from staying optimistic about the future which in turn trickles down to the employees. The trend of loggers being nothing more than a line item on the profit and loss sheet will exacerbate this shortage of logging infrastructure into the future.
Loggers face issues every day from safety, productivity, transportation, and finding revenue generating work to name a few, but in the end those that call themselves loggers always find a way to get the job done. This can do spirit is not found in every occupation and in most cases cannot be taught. I feel very fortunate to have grown up with and continue to work side by side with loggers, both in my home state and across the nation. While some may call me crazy, I believe that managing a renewable resource regardless of its challenges is the right thing to do and it is just another reason why I am proud that I chose to become a logger.
Myles Anderson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his father Mike own and operate Anderson Logging, Inc. based out of Fort Bragg, CA.
The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.amloggers.com or contact their office at 409-625-0206.