Sept Oct, 2003

 

 

 

 

One Answer to the Future

More Fiber chooses cut-to-length machinery when planning for the future

By Morley Young

Gary Betts explains his reasons for having More Logs, Inc. make a very substantial investment in cut-to-length (CTL) machinery ó survival. Gary, like many logging contractors, got his start in the woods at a fairly early age, working for his father. He sandwiched a stint in the U.S. Army and eventually wound up owning and operating More Logs, Inc., of Sweet Home, Oregon.

Matt operates a Rottne SMW 16- ton forwarder. Gary will likely rebuild the machine í95 machine when it becomes necessary, keeping it operation for years to come.

Today Gary is one of the approximately eight to ten percent of western Oregon loggers who have gone to the CTL process. He says that the managers of timber operations want to produce profits as soon as possible, but since trees donít grow overnight, any successful timber operator has to look ahead a few more years than most other businesses. Gary doesnít have a precise number for the difference in production between a cut-to-length crew and a conventional logging crew, but as nearly as he can estimate, two men and their CTL machines probably produce about as much as six men falling, bucking, yarding and loading. And those two men at More Logs are operators Matt Galvan and Mike McIntyre.

At a side a few miles east of Marcola, Oregon, Matt busily loads a truck ó short lengths on the truck, and the longer ones on the pup. The logs are uniform in length. Gary says that the computer in the harvester/processor is very precise: "It doesnít get distracted, it doesnít forget, and it doesnít make mistakes." The forwarder Matt operates is a Rottne SMV 16-ton machine, purchased in 1995. This big six-wheeled vehicle, which looks like a mechanical praying mantis, can practically pussyfoot through the trees and, Gary says, will probably be rebuilt once before itís retired. The only mud to be seen is on the road and the landing.

One Answer to the Future  Owner Gary Betts and Matt Galvin, forwarder operator

The forwarderís tracks through the woods are broad but light, and will be invisible in less than a year. The tracks ó full of small, crushed branches ó will quickly mulch back into the ground leaving little evidence the big machine was there. Mike operates the Timbco 425 harvester. This machine has a pistol grip boom and an 11-foot, telescoping South Fork boom extension. Itís capable of reaching 30 feet from the center pin (32 feet in a pinch). It can turn a tree hidden deep in a stand into a clean, limbless log in a matter of seconds.

The 425 is a tracked vehicle, but even so, itís much easier on the soil than more conventional types of logging equipment. Gary and his team work well together. "Theyíre both good operators and excellent employees," he says. And a top-notch team is as vital a component to his business as machinery. Although More Logs sees a value in CTL in western Oregon, they are a minority in the area. Western Oregon is far behind the rest of the country, and for that matter, the world. CTL is the method of choice in such diverse places as eastern Oregon, the southeastern United States, Scandinavia, and Brazil.

Matt Galvin loads a More Fiber truck with some of the shorter length logs.

Western Oregonís lag behind the rest of the world is partly due to terrain, but thatís not the only problem. Gary explains that the Columbia River scaling system has always favored the mill operator. CTL, with its shorter logs, tilts those scales back toward the loggerís side. Understandably, a lot of mills arenít ready just yet to give up that advantage. Some people think that attitude is a case of trying to hold back the tide, and the day is coming when CTL will be the preferred method. Right now, the most powerful force working in support of CTL are forward- thinking timber owners.

They see the benefits of a "kinder, gentler" way of harvesting trees. If the land isnít torn up in a logging operation, it doesnít take as long to heal; there is no erosion, and it can start growing the new crop that much sooner. Gary says the days of big timber are gone, and they wonít be back. Ship a big log in a load today, and youíll pay a penalty for it. Many modern mills canít handle anything over thirty inches, so they have to ship the larger timber to one of the few mills in western Oregon that can. Handling smaller timber is where harvesters and forwarders shine. As in many logging operations today, Garyís vehicle is a virtual office. He carries a full array of communication equipment: in addition to the usual CB radio, he has a cell phone, complete with caller ID and an automated answering service. Garyís wife Mary runs the office and handles the many reports that More Logs must submit to various government offices.

In addition, she does the payroll and accounts payable. Gary and his wife are both strong supporters of the industry. He is a past president of Associated Oregon Loggers (AOL), an organization for which he has nothing but praise: "During the hard times of these past few years, a lot of small operators would have gone under if it wasnít for AOL. Theyíre a fine organization." Both Mary and Gary try to attend AOL meetings that deal with insurance, whether health, liability or equipment. And in her spare time, Mary serves on two AOL committees. The industry is changing; itís important to look toward the future. More Fiber intends to see the future and make it a profitable one.

TW

   This service is temporarily unavailable

 

 

This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 28, 2004