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Proud of What We Do
Northern California’s Bundy & Sons’ work ethic has kept them in the woods for decades
By Mary Bullwinkel
It isn’t often these days that you hear about a small family logging company celebrating 30 years in business. But such is the case for Bundy & Sons Inc., a northern California logging company run by William “Joe” Bundy, his wife Terri, and their sons Bill and Nick.
Joe Bundy was 14 when he started working in the remote wooded area surrounding Forks of the Salmon, an unincorporated community in northeastern California’s Siskiyou County — literally in the middle of nowhere. Bundy made the two-and-a-half-hour trip (one way!) to the woods on Friday after school let out, worked all weekend, and returned late Sunday night to go back to school Monday morning.
By the time he finished high school at the age of 18, he knew how to do almost every job in the woods. “I was a hook tender on the yarder in Forks of the Salmon, I cut timber, I ran skidders; I’ve done everything you can think of in the woods,” Bundy said.
This was back in the day when there were big trees to be harvested. In 1975, Bundy went to work for Arcata Redwood Company near Klamath, Calif., where some of the trees being logged had 120,000 board feet in them. Bundy knew from the first time he set foot in the woods that this was his calling. “I like the work…I’ve tried other things but I’ve always been in the woods somewhere.”
What evolved into the current Bundy & Sons Inc. began in 1983, while Bundy was working full time at Arcata Redwood. Bundy and friend Tom Ray started T. J. Logging and worked every weekend on small U.S. Forest Service salvage timber sales. They bought a 1954 D6 9U track-type Cat with a cable blade and what he calls “an old junker” loader (a Cat 966). “We’d log little [Forest Service] salvage sales and deck them,” Bundy says. “We’d work all week at Arcata Redwood, and then we’d go back out there [Orleans/Forks of the Salmon area] and work all weekend again.”
The story must be told how Bundy and his partner were able to afford the D6 9U Cat. “I traded my wife’s car for the Cat,” Bundy says. “She had a brand new Trans Am, and I said to her, ‘I want to try this, but we don’t have enough money to get this going.’” Without hesitation, Terri Bundy agreed they would sell the car to help get the logging company started. When Bundy’s partner moved out of state in 1989, the name of the company was changed to Bundy & Sons Logging.
Since that time, Bundy & Sons Logging Inc. has been a logging contractor,
Last fall, Bundy & Sons Inc. was working in the 95-degree heat near Trinity Center in northern California. They call this the plantation, a 19,000-acre area owned by SPI, where Bundy & Sons Inc. log (thinning, salvage, and small clearcuts) every four to five years.
Although Joe rarely misses a day of work in the woods, son Bill was supervising this specific site. “Ever since he was 10 years old,” Bundy says, “all Bill talked about was being a logger.” Bill Bundy was operating the Timbco 445 feller buncher, which was purchased in early 2005. Bill’s brother Nick was falling timber on another harvest plan nearby. Both are skilled loggers, actively engaged in the family business. “Both will do whatever I need them to,” Joe Bundy says, “but Nick loves to cut trees.”
Timbco Bunchers & Other Equipment
The company has been using Timbco feller bunchers for almost nine years and runs two of what Bundy describes as very reliable machines. “They cut a lot of trees, and there’s less chance of people getting hurt. Safety is always a priority when getting the job done,” he added.
There are a number of other benefits too. “Our experience is that these machines put down as much wood as three or four timber fallers,” Bundy says. “That production combined with the fact that you’re cutting down on Workers’ Comp rates and risks makes it really economical in the small timber,” he added. They also contribute to a cleaner logging job with shorter stumps and less damage.
The Timbcos are a one-person machine, meaning they do best with a single, consistent operator. , and the Bundy Logging employees prefer that as well. Bill Bundy has been running a yarder for the last couple of months and says, “Just put me back on my Timbco.”
Other equipment helping to generate 16 to 20 loads of logs a day were a 2012 Caterpillar 527 skidder, operated by Urban Brandon, a 517 grapple Cat operated by Ron Nylund, a 2012 Caterpillar 330D shovel log loader operated by Bill Kasper, and a Caterpillar 322C Stroke operated by Bill Kasper’s brother, Kevin. All are long-time employees of Bundy & Sons Inc., with decades of experience in the logging business.
Getting the Wood on the Road
Poles are logs of a specific size peeled into telephone poles. SPI is one of the larger suppliers of poles in the United States and Mexico. Tree species used to make poles include Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, white fir, and red fir. Bundy estimates that poles make up slightly more than 10% of the loads being shipped.
Once logging operations have been completed, the brush is made into piles and burned after the first rain. Because of the hauling distance involved, it is not cost-efficient to chip it and haul it as hog fuel. Once the piles have been burned, it’s time for replanting — an activity that is accomplished during a several week period in November. SPI does the burning and replanting on their land.
Due to lack of water and hotter temperatures, reforestation inland is a slower process than on the coast of California. It takes eight to 10 years inland before reforestation becomes evident, with young trees growing maybe 12 to 18 inches a year.
Hotter temperatures also call for special fire-related restrictions. Logging may be curtailed at certain times due to weather-related conditions, and there are other requirements. With a GPS in hand, the harvest area must be walked to look for fires. This information is entered into a computer and emailed daily to SPI to document fire safety measures. “It makes us responsible for what we are doing,” Bundy says.
Working Year Round
Bundy & Sons Inc. is able to operate almost year round, even in snow. That’s when the outfit does shovel logging, using a log loader to swing logs to a landing or road, where they are loaded onto trucks and hauled to the mill. Bundy & Sons uses two John Deere loaders — a 2054 and a 270.
“They work great,” Bundy says, “although they aren’t as powerful and aren’t as fast as the Cat 330D shovel loader.” Bundy says shovel logging is a good thing because there is no skidding of the logs and very little ground compaction. “It looks neater, and there are no gouges or cuts in the hillsides.” The company plans ahead for winter operations by setting aside areas during the summer logging season. They build short spur roads into these units to make for more efficient shovel logging in the winter.
Some of the roads might be lined with brush, particularly if the road crossed a wet area, so the equipment would be operating up to two feet off the dirt, and there would be minimal or no soil impact. When the shovel logging is finished, and as the equipment backs out of the area, the brush is piled. “You can’t even tell we were there,” Bundy says, describing the brush as a filter cloth.
Pride in Your Work
Logging operations are always subject to inspection by the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CALFire), and Bundy was pleased to report that his operations have received a good report. “We do it different [than some loggers],” Bundy says. “We treat it like it’s our property.” Bundy & Sons Inc. has a slogan that they’ve had since the beginning: We Are Proud of What We Do. “I try to impress on my boys, if you are going to do it sloppy, don’t do it at all,” Bundy added.
Bundy & Sons Inc. has a reputation for doing it right. When SPI has an area to be harvested near houses, they give Bundy a call. The company received positive feedback from neighbors of a logging job near the community of Wildwood in Trinity County. After they thinned the area, “The neighbors say it looked like a park,” Bundy says, “and that makes me feel good.”
Although Bundy doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon, a third generation of his family is already involved in the logging business. Joe and Terri Bundy’s grandchildren, (Bill’s two daughters), ages 7 and 9, enjoy going out to the logging sites and hanging out at the shop. And when Bundy & Sons Inc. logging trucks show up at the granddaughters’ school on an educational visit, the girls call them “our trucks.”
Joe Bundy can’t imagine not going to the woods and working every day, whether it’s running the yarder or feller buncher, skidding logs, or working at the shop. “I’ve tried other things,” Bundy says,” but I’ve always been in the woods somewhere.”
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