RIGGING SHACK 'CLASSIC'

(This column originally appeared in the March 1976 edition of Loggers World.)

You know I get so damned frustrated in this business that I could throw a rock thru my own window. There are things I’d like to say and write about yet I can’t express them exactly as I mean them. I write some junk that seems clear to me and with correct meaning but when it comes out I find that to many people the meaning wasn’t clear and it was misunderstood.

There are limitations to the written word. I’m finding that out.

There are many things happening that are of interest to me that may not be of interest to many of our fine Loggers World readers. That is my job, not to find out what interests me, but to work on what is interesting to the most readers.

For instance, the last Annual Meeting of the Associated Oregon Loggers was a dandy; good speakers, qualified people, and lots of logging information. Most of the information came from loggers, from loggers doing the things they were talking about. Now that is the way to get information. Get it from the guy that is doing it.

I made up my mind that we were going to cover this meeting as fully and as well as we could. I made pages of notes. Nodded my head in agreement five thousand four hundred and thirty times. Had my tape recorder in full recording position. Brought it all back to the office, poured some coffee, lit a smoke and studied and reviewed and started writing. I stuck to that typewriter like it was plastered to me.

Page after page of good valid logging advice and information and experiences. About 3:00 in the afternoon of the first day of this made me realize this was going to be the longest article that I ever wrote. I wasn’t half done and had a dozen completed pages.

There were three panels that especially needed repeating and reading and discussion. They were on: “Cable Logging”, “Logging Costs and Cost Accounting” and “Controlled Timber Falling”. Had decided not to cover the “Logging Costs” panel because that will be out in booklet form later, published by AOL, and I couldn’t do it justice without using many sheets, forms and charts.

So that left me with the job of reporting on two panels. Cable Logging—-which is mostly about long skyline logging. And Controlled Timber Falling—-which was mostly about using pulling lines and hydraulic jacking equipment to fall big timber up hill.

And even that is a job. Takes lots of room. If I cut it down I cut down on the information and the value because these logging speakers were talking about the nuts and bolts of doing the job. So no cutting down allowed. If I ran it like she came out it was going to be long. But long or not it came down to run it like it was or not to run it at all. What did I decide? I don’t know because I haven’t decided as yet. BUT—-I believe the material is well worth the repeating and am sure that it is valuable information for loggers everywhere.

Look at this: On these two panels we had loggers: Gary Briggs, Jim Briggs, Willis Peterson, Paul Weigel and Dave Burwell talking on how they are doing these particular jobs. You can’t get better information closer to the operation than this.

Dr. Frank Schaumburg, from OSU, kept everyone leaning forward and paying strict attention while he talked for half an hour or so. This man is a learned critter and is a World Wide expert on Log Storage. He said that generally storing logs in water causes no bad environmental effect at all. The only time it would is when lots of logs are in a small pond. In fact, this contamination of water by logs has been blown out of proportion because there is normally no contamination. This makes EPA mad at him because he told the truth after four years of intensive work and research and experiments in this area. If you ever get a chance to meet and talk with this man by all means do so. He knows—-that is his field and he is good at it.

Keynote address was by Bob Dwyer, Dwyer Overseas Timber Products Company of Portland. Bob said that he was an old chokerman and looking for a job. He also said that like Old Soldiers, old chokermen sort of fade away. They get rotten butts and their rigging goes slack.

Let me quote from his speech: “First let’s take a look at what we are doing with our resources. The first thing that is happening at the moment is that we are exporting our raw renewable products, Logs, to some nations, and importing finished lumber from others, to our disadvantage. Of course, many of us were delighted when the Japanese were taking so many logs form us, because in the short-term it created jobs for loggers and longshoremen and also created tremendous inflation of stumpage prices. Of course our friends in Canada were delighted because as we exported our logs it gave them a stronger market to ship their lumber by foreign carrier to our east coast. Due to the antiquated law called the Jones Act, which requires our non-competitive American flag vessels to haul between American ports, Canadian lumber has a $38.00 per thousand freight advantage to the East Coast of the United States. People do not realize that 85% of the lumber used in the New England states comes directly from Canada. The Canadian mills are delighted when we put such restrictions on ourselves to their advantage. Because of these same shipping regulations, less than 10% of the Alaskan Timber is shipped into the United States. The majority of Alaskan Timber is controlled by Foreign interests and shipped from Alaska ports at prices that are half the current depressed prices here in America. Needless to say, the profit is made on the other end and the Alaskan mills pay very little Income Taxes to the U.S. Government.”

Something to ponder on isn’t it?

Another thing that Bob Dwyer said that makes me pause and thing a minute is: “What happened to the petroleum industry could happen in the timber industry in the not too distant future.”

I quote Bob Dwyer one more time because I think this part of his speech is very, very important and is directed to us all—-
“May I close with this thought? The time has come when we in the industry must join hands with our suppliers and our employee unions to determine which direction our lives will go. Jointly we can reduce the many useless bureaus that call for endless public hearings and those intellectual NIH lists that are bogging down our free enterprise system through emotional scare tactics that do not square away with reality and the facts. Let’s join together with our colleagues and competitors to eliminate the hundreds of thousands of nonproductive people that get between the producer and the ultimate consumer. If we can do this, we can cut down on inflation and can provide reasonably priced single family dwelligs for the American citizen. Thereby creating more capitalists and preserving our free enterprise system.”

He believes this and I do too and I agree that a home owner is a member of the Capitalist System and the free enterprise system.

Uphill timber falling

You are going to hear a lot on this subject in the present and future. Almost everyplace that big timber is to be felled and bucked on steep ground it will be stipulated that it be fell uphill, or quartered uphill, so that it saves better. There seems to be two main ways of doing this. Using a donkey and pulling line or Hydraulic Falling equipment such as the Silvey Tree Savers. OR—-a combination of both.

There is nothing new in this; Rosboro Lumber Company has been doing it for years, but it is coming on stronger all the time.

Cable logging systems

Along with the other changes there will be more skyline logging. The Forest Service and the BLM and other Timber Sales Agencies are going to see to this. Probably high lead logging and ground skidding will be the hardest hit. Lots of gravity logging systems that can be done with high lead machines.

Would predict that machines such as the FMC are going to become more common and more acceptable. There is more and more concern about soil compaction due to Wheel Skidders and Bulldozers. The FMC track skidder has much less tendency to compact the soil. But hell, you knew that already—-no news to anyone.

One Timber Sale Officer told me that in his district for the next five years all sales will be thinning sales. Not only that but it will call for cable thinning in all cases. Which means small skyline machines and lateral yarding to the skyline.

Thinning logging is a bad combination for the logger because you have an expensive logging method getting out the cheapest logs. But it is being done successfully and there likely will be more of it.

The total picture is one of higher and higher logging costs in order to fit the scheme of better timber management, saving more scale in falling, better utilization and logging to protect the water.

Who’ll pay for it? Why Old Joe Consumer will. Before we get done with all these schemes, plans and restrictions Old Joe Consumer will think that a two by four is made of gold instead of wood.

Already Joe Consumer can’t afford to build himself a new house. The spread between what he is able to pay and what it costs to build a new home is going to get wider before it gets narrower.

Like the old English Proverb says: “He who makes not mistakes never makes anything.”

And on that I’ll shut up for a month.