The log decks are stacking up faster than the log truck can haul them off. The fire danger is now at the level where all equipment has to be out of the woods by 1pm and that includes trucks for hauling. Firewatch is required for 3 hours after the last piece of equipment is shut down or out of the woods for the day.
Hauling logs off the hill.
One may ask what one does during the 3 hours. Aside from loading the Gator with firewood that had been cut earlier in the day, my phone works well on this high spot and long postponed communications are caught up. I crank up the sound and listen to a book on tape or music, I walk the new roads and the old paths, and I spend a lot of time looking up (usually from the shade of the big patches of trees left to grow).
A walk through the woods looks very different from when the logging operation started. Slowly, the areas that were so damaged with the helter-skelter broken trees tangled with each other are getting cleaned out.
It is at this point where we spend much of our time looking up, judging the health and thinned spacing of each tree that is left standing. Groupings of trees assist each other to remain standing and if we thin the trees too much the wind we experience at the top of this ridge would flatten them all.
By looking up from the areas that needed cleared out, we can see damage that was hidden earlier by the thick canopy, and we have also found a couple of spots where there has been evidence of root rot (the disease that can spread from tree to tree through the roots).
Our logging crew has been exceptional in their quest to get our forest back to a more healthy state. They walk the areas each day before and after work, they take time to address our issues and ask questions so intentions are clear.
The logging crew with their specialized equipment are making good progress through the most damaged areas of the forest. Log decks are growing in the landing that was cleared out at the top of the hill.
As the crew takes down the trees that were snapped in half or had the tops broken out, the machines pile the cut timber by their sort depending on what mill they will be going to. The piles of long skinny logs (the most damaged trees) that are too small to make boards, are strictly planned for the pulp mill. Slightly larger logs that can be milled are in a different pile. The big logs are divided into species with white fir in one pile while Douglas fir is in another.
This cleared area is big enough for all the decks of timber while still affording enough space for log trucks to come in, turn around and load from the decks.
Work has begun on the top of the hill. It started with the official, OSHA (Occupational Safety And Health Administration) required signage.
Since there will be more than one person working on the site, this sign is required alongside the road that leads into the woods.
The signage will stay in place throughout the logging process to assure that anyone entering will be aware of dangers. If we were to have multiple access points, there would need to be signs at each entrance.
The next piece of necessary resources to arrive is the shovel. This wide, low piece of logging equipment has a long arm that can reach out and maneuver heavy logs, tear out stumps in the path and shovel around slash piles out of the way.
Our woods seem to be filled with equipment and people. So far we have one operator for the feller/processor, one for the shovel, one and sometimes two fellers (those manually cutting the larger trees) and Mike on our bulldozer. This truck is also the same one that will be hauling loads from the top of the hill.
Mike got an extra supervisor in the woods on this day. Jackson had followed him as he walked down the cleaned log after all the branches had been cut off. Mike had jumped down off the log and Jackson stayed on.
While Mike was attaching the logging choker (a steel cable that is hooked to the bulldozer drum), Jackson stood patiently for Mike to complete his task.
Jackson did finally get off the log when it was time to start pulling it down the hill and out of the woods.
The tree was crooked from the beginning, it had a sweep to it that made it look like a capital J with a green top. It was also in the way of the new road that was needed before the logging crew comes in to thin and clean up storm damage.
To the right you can see the top of the tree laying flat against the ground with the tipped up base that is still attached to the tree making for a good sitting spot for Mike.
Before the tree is dragged down the skid road with the bulldozer, Mike will trim off the curved base. That base will be left in the woods with limbs, branches and bits of other trees as habitat for forest creatures and nutrients for the stand of trees that will remain on the hill.