Intermountain Logging Conference

Fostering relationships for future success

By Diane Mettler

The 69th Intermountain Logging Conference may not have had equipment on display this year, but it had a lot of information and education to offer attendees.

Starting off Strong
The show got kicked off, Monday, April 2, with keynote speaker Jim Stone. He is the Chair of the Blackfoot Challenge, where private landowners take the lead, and public agencies follow in a shared goal: to keep large landscapes intact and rural lifestyles vital.                       

“The group has been in existence for about 10 to 12 years now, and Jim explained to the membership the successes of the Montana project,” says Joel Nelson, ILC Vice President. “He spoke about the impediments and barriers they had to get over, and how they worked to come to a common goal and objective.”                       

Stone was followed by a discussion panel “A Global to Regional Perspective of Today’s Customer, Their Market and Their Needs.” Mark Brinkmeyer, CEO of Riley Creek Lumber Co., in North Idaho, talked about the global situation regarding raw materials and manufacturing. Vincent Corraro, with Northwest Management Inc., took it down to the regional level discussing what the Inland region is up against — from timber supply to changing ownership patterns. And Tony Saunder, of the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERC,) discussed the political environment with our next door neighbor.

Focusing on Education
Day two started off with a look at biomass. “Mike Jostrom from Plum Creek, Director of Operations out of Atlanta, Georgia, gave a general perspective of what’s happening with bio-energy in the U.S., politically and technology wise,” says Joel. “He also talked about what the possibilities are — a kind of futuristic type discussion.”                       

The rest of the day was devoted to education. Loggers, depending on what state they came from, earned anywhere from 13 to 17 certification credits.                       

The classes were well attended, and some had a little extra punch, like an outside session put on by the Washington, Idaho, and Montana Departments of Transportation. “They set up a logging truck and a low boy, and each piece had violations,” Joel explains. “Attendees were challenged to find those things out of compliance.”                       

It was not only informative for those getting their credits, but the DOT personnel learned a few things as well. “They never get an opportunity to be together and interact,” says Joel. “They were telling me, ‘We didn’t know that about Montana or Washington.’ So it gave them an opportunity to hopefully recognize that there are differences and some issues and impediments that they can take back to their superiors.” There was also time for some fun too. Western States put on a loader precision competition. People enjoyed watching operators test their skills by playing “life-size” checkers in a hydraulic loader.

Next Year
“Our goal was that at the end of the conference we wanted people to leave with something, and I think they did,” says Joel. But Joel believes next year’s conference (April 10-13, 2008) will definitely be a bigger event. For starters, machinery will be on display, but it will also be the ILC’s 70th anniversary — a milestone by any measure.                       

Until then, Joel wants to thank the sponsors who made this year’s event possible: Western Star, Cat, Modern Equipment, Weldco/Beales Mfg., Triple W Equipment, Rowan Machinery, CWS Industries, Rotobec, Pierce Pacific, Waratah, and City Service Valcon.  

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