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Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference 2009

By Kurt Glaeseman

Celebrating 60 Years -- A Reminiscence was the theme of the 2009 Forest Products & Construction Exposition sponsored by the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference. The kick-off breakfast was held at the Redding, Calif., Convention Center on Thursday, February 12, with a rich slate of follow-up activities at the Shasta County Fairgrounds in Anderson.

Highlights
While Machinery Row and the Vendors' Hall are always popular, one of the showstoppers for 2009 was the Multi-Media Forest History Exhibit with images and videos of earlier logging and forest-related construction throughout the region.

Education classes like the Trucker's Seminar were well attended and school children, as well as adults, cheered on their favorites at the Logging Sports Exhibitions and the Backhoe Rodeo.

Bill Dennison, Conference President in 1984 and current Master of Ceremonies, invited the crowd to reflect on the changes in the forest products industry from the Conference's inception in the early 1950s. Current President Dan Fisher (from Fruit Grower Supply Company in Hilt, Calif.) spoke about the current economic conditions in relation to the 2009 Reminiscence theme: "Sharing our past will help to strengthen our future. Many of us have been in a survival mode for several years. We remain optimistic. We have learned that we can get through these tough times together."

Keynote Speaker Inspires
Roger Crawford, the keynote speaker, was more than inspirational. One of the most accomplished physically challenged athletes in history, Crawford has played tennis against some of the pros, written the self-help book How High Can You Bounce?, and carried the Olympic torch on one stretch of its course from Athens to Los Angeles in 1984.

Parallels from his life were applied seamlessly to the logging industry: Crawford pointed out that everyone faces challenges and adversity in life is inevitable, but he cautioned that we must consider defeat as optional.

"Like the Tour de France, the race is won during the uphill portion," reminded Crawford. Loggers chuckled when he noted that people are like tea bags -- "Put ‘em in a little hot water and you'll find out what's inside ‘em."

Crawford suggested that attendees at the Conference focus on three major questions:

  • Where are you coming from? Think of the past as a tremendous resource with examples of courage and resilience. "In times like these, never forget that there have been times like these." What have we learned?

  • How long have you been there? Do you try to better your best? "If you change with the times, you are already too late. You have to change the times." To progress, you have to practice when you want to AND when you don't want to.

  • Where are you going? We must look for possibilities. How we see tomorrow influences what we do today. Passion and Drive? Sure. But Hope is even more important.

Rough economic times invite analysis and introspection. Crawford received a standing ovation.

Interview with Jeff Gletne, Up-Coming President

The Sierra Cascade Logging Conference's First Vice President Jeff Gletne will take over the axe as President in May of 2009. Gletne has a Forestry Degree from Berkeley, worked as a logger in Dinuba, Calif., operated his own Skyline Logging for almost a decade, and is currently serving as a Forester with Sierra Forest Products in Terra Bella, Calif.

Gletne took time to reflect on current questions in the industry:

Question: What are the critical problems facing the industry today?
Answer: We need to get more of the talented young people interested in logging as a career. But if they are to have a viable career, the industry needs to be strengthened with a jumpstart to the housing industry. The low price of logs is killing sawmills, loggers, equipment operators, and dealers, all of which ripples through the industry.

Question: What current industry leader do you admire?
Answer: I have the highest respect for Glen Duysen at Sierra Forest Products in Terra Bella. He has seen the ups and downs of this industry. He may be in charge of a sawmill now, but he also worked with his sons at night, shoveling sawdust and cleaning up the mill. Glen is quiet, ethical, and professional.

Question: What would you like the Public to know about the industry today?
Answer: We are the true environmentalists. We can use logging techniques to make a forest look right and do what it should. We can thin trees and clean up the forest and keep it from burning up.

We have the science and tools to benefit the forest and ultimately the end users. If we could just get the public up into the woods and show them what we do, we would see a major change in feelings.

Question: How can the Federal Government help?
Answer: The Feds need to start practicing forestry again rather than politics. It's science, not politics.

 

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Guest Columnist
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