This Is Not Logging!
Woodland Restoration brings an aggressive attitude to forest restoration
By Roy Anderson
Landscaping Versus Logging
Arno and Nilson say aesthetic considerations play an important role in their business, because nearly all clients are private landowners whose main objective is to have a healthy, visually pleasing forest, rather than harvesting trees with the objective of maximizing revenue.
The Mechanics of Restoration
Both machines have seen better days, but Arno and Nilson say that not having the pressure to make payments on a new machine aligns perfectly with their restoration philosophy, and gives them options other harvesters may not have. Nilson, who operates the harvester says, “If working on a certain day means we’ll damage the soil, we just shut down until its dry enough.”
For some of the by-the-hour or by-the-acre type jobs, Woodland Restoration uses a third piece of equipment a farm tractor with a chipper attached to the PTO and also equipped with a small loader. The tractor moves through the harvest unit and the loader feeds felled, non-merchantable trees into the chipper. On some jobs, the chipper is removed and the tractor and loader are used to pile slash for burning. Arno says that many land owners want a clean looking forest to meet their visual needs, and treating the slash is important in the Inland West where decomposition is slow and fire hazard is high.
According to Arno, other loggers in western Montana are also beginning to accept the reality of how expensive it is to do a restoration project. Arno says, “Up until recently, most everybody was putting low bids on restoration-type work because they always assume there’s going to be enough commercially valuable logs to pay for the logging cost.” From Arno’s perspective, “The bottom line is that to do restoration work right, there’s usually not enough logs.”
The Value of a Good Reputation
Peter Stark, a Missoula-based writer and self-confessed tree hugger, is another of Woodland Restoration’s former clients. Several years ago, Stark learned, through a Montana State University Extension Service forest stewardship course, that 50 acres of his forest contained an average of 837 trees per acre and that all were about 100 years old with microscopic width growth rings. Realizing his forest needed help, Stark hired Woodland Restoration. Stark’s forest, situated right next to the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area trailhead, is a jumping off point for hoards of environmentally sensitive types, so he was concerned about protests. To Stark’s surprise, instead of protests, the local chapter of the Sierra Club hosted a press event promoting Woodland Restoration’s work as an example of hazardous fuel reduction work done right.
The dance floor was a hit with several of Stark’s architect friends, and Arno and Stark decided that maybe they had stumbled on to a viable business idea tight grained larch flooring produced from Woodland Restoration’s projects. Woodland Restoration and Stark formed a partnership and North Slope Sustainable Wood (www.northslopewood. com) was born.
Although the flooring business is competitive, Arno is optimistic about Northslope’s future, because he believes there’s a customer segment that values forest products produced from sustainable, restoration projects. He may be right. Which would mean that the title of a future article about Woodland Restoration, Inc. might be, “This is not flooring!”