It's About More Than Trees
Cross & Crown, Inc. invests
in their company, their community and the health of the logging industry
|Crown and Cross crew takes
lunch break in shade of the Madill 6255 yarder.
By Kurt Glaseman
When Bob and Betsy Luoto of
Carlton, Ore., combine their brains and experience and resources into motion,
the tremors are felt way beyond the local logging community. The Luotos own and
operate Cross and Crown Inc., Operative Forest Consultants & Contractors,
headquartered about a dozen miles north of McMinnville.
The Luoto name is well-known all
over Oregon, as well as in Salt Lake City, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. For
some it's an upscale logging name; for others it's a driving force behind
financial aid for critically ill children. Bob is a third-generation logger who
started setting chokers before he went to college. He got his bachelor's degree
in Political Science from Washington State University in 1974 but chose to come
back and work in the woods with his father Robert.
In 1980 the Luoto Logging Co. was
given the Northwest Oregon Area Operator of the Year honor for work in
protecting streams and water systems within a logging unit, which Bob
supervised. In 1990 the governor of Oregon appointed him to the State Advisory
Board for Occupational Safety and Health. He has been very active in Associated
Oregon Loggers (A.O.L.), where he served as President in 1995 and 1996, and on
the Board of Directors of the American Logging Council.
|The Eagle IV carriage
weighs 2300 pounds and can handle a load of from 10,000 to 20,000
He has been closely associated
with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and has lobbied in Washington, D.C., to
help pass several key forestry bills. To crown his list of accomplishments, this
past January, Bob was named Oregon Logger of the Year. Bob's wife Betsy is
also active in A.O.L., where she was named Woman of the Year in 1997. She speaks
passionately for Log a Load for Kids, a fund raising organization that operates
under the umbrella of the Children's Miracle Network. Until recently, Betsy was
their National Chairperson.
An attractive feature of the Log a
Load for Kids program is that funds raised within a state stay in that state;
the recipients in Oregon recipients have been Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene,
Doernbecher's Hospital in Portland, and Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford.
Donors can even specify which hospital gets their money, and they often know
specific areas of dire need. When Bob Luoto was president of A.O.L., he
recognized the value of supporting an organization like Log a Load for Kids:
"So many loggers had kids in hospitals, and the expenses were
|The Pierce delimber on a
LinkBelt carrier has been ideal for thinning at the Blodgett Tract
It was coincidentally a great way
to boost the image of the Oregon logger . . . at a time when we could use some
good publicity." He asked an other logger and his wife to co-chair this
program, which would be sponsored by A.O.L. With careful planning and hard work,
the venture got off to a good start. The loaded and polished log truck became a
symbol of caring, and it appeared in parades, at events and on television. The
basic premise is that loggers or logging companies can donate the value of a
load of logs, but individuals and mills and corporations were quick to join
Some of the PR events were
light-hearted: The Mr. Log-a-Load Contest, a tongue-in-cheek beauty contest for
men, judged the contestants on talent, poise, personality and gym wear that
raised $35,000. Thirty states and Canada participate in Log a Load for Kids, and
Oregon is one of the strongest fundraisers. Bob has always been concerned with
the image of loggers and the dilemmas they face. He reflects, "To me, the
saddest part is that loggers see daily what has happened to natural resources in
the national forests.
|CAT 325B logloader at the
The public has no concept of the
money being wasted in these national forests. They've been led to believe it's
for the environmental good of the country. I've seen a lot of good friends
go broke. Maybe the next generation will figure it out: We can use our natural
resources. Many current policies do a real disservice to the people and the
resources." That's one reason Bob works willingly for the Sustained
Forestry Initiative (SFI). "I've seen a huge shift in our country,"
say Bob, "as we've gone from a rural to an urban mind set. People in the
metropolitan areas become disconnected with the basic forests and land
He encourages companies to get
green certified, showing that they are truly doing what they say as they handle
resources. He knows that the public demands such a certification, and big
distributors like Home Depot have everything to gain to keep a clean image. One
problem is that several different groups want to offer this certification, with
varying degrees of toughness in their standards. "We've got to get it
ironed out and be consistent. We need to show the public that we do know what we
are talking about and that we're responsible. It's a big deal here in Oregon,
bigger than in most states, where logging may not be quite as important,"
|Bob and Betsy Luoto stand
in front of the Cross & Crown Freightliner that carries the token
load of logs and the banner for Log a Load for Kids.
Luoto's Cross & Crown tries to
model standards that are not only tolerable but admirable in the public eye. The
thirty employees are active on three sides and do most of their work in
northwest Oregon. The Cross & Crown trucks are a familiar sight, not just
the Log a Load for Kids banner truck, but trucks loaded and headed for the
mills. A typical side might be the Blodgett 1200 Tract cut near Fishhawk Lake,
above Mist - 50 miles northwest of Portland and about 15 miles from the Columbia
This is both a thinning and a
clear cut-fir, hemlock, cedar and alder. This "Blodgett 1200" block is
part of a research forest owned and administered by Oregon State University (OSU).
The land was donated to the University by the Michigan Blodgett family, one of
whom had been a timber broker.
|Dennis McMullen (on right,
wearing green cap), truck boss for Cross & Crown, drives in parades
and keeps the truck polished. Gary Ward or "G. Dub" (on left)
is logging supervisor for Cross & Crown.
After the tract was initially
logged, a severe fire ravaged the area in the late 1920s. Heavy brush grew in
and juvenile growth of marketable trees was suppressed, until Douglas fir and
then hemlock overtopped the brush. Now the plan calls for the development of a
multi-layered forest of wildlife habitat and tall tree components. OSU sells the
logs, but hires a logging contractor to cut them.
Half the bid item is based on
actual cost of cutting, and half on the operational plan OSU requires the
contractor to develop. Since no two mills have exactly the same requirements,
machinery operators have to stay alert. The preponderance of logs are
forty-footers, but the rest of the material must be utilized. Anything with a
smaller than 6-inch top must be separated into hard- and softwood for pulp -
most of which goes to Pacific Fibre in Longview, Wash.
Any piece that is two feet or
longer and four inches or bigger goes into a box for ultimate debarking. This
"Blue Box" is a clean-up adjunct, so that material on the landing,
like trimmed ends, can be salvaged. The good logs, loaded onto Cross & Crown
Freightliners, go to several destinations: Douglas fir to Willamina or
Tillamook; cedar to Klamath Falls; alder to Longview. Luoto demands that his
equipment be kept in top-notch condition, since a logging side is often two
hours or more of road travel from the shop.
|Wendy Buchheit, General
Bookkeeper and Payroll Person at Cross & Crown in Carlton, Oregon
Grant Pretty, siderod and yarder
operator at the Blodgett Tract, has been running the Madill 6255 for a year.
"It's a real nice machine. I feel lucky to get a new yarder, since people
usually keep them a long time. The cab is a real luxury, and the Madill is
basically a fast and efficient machine." The green and white Eagle IV
carriage is decorated with the Cross & Crown logo - for a good reason: Luoto
has had Eagle carriages for 20 years and really likes them. This one weighs 2300
pounds and can handle a payload of 10,000 to 20,000 pounds.
Mike Adams, process operator, runs
a Pierce 3400 delimber on a LinkBelt carrier. Between him and the computer, logs
are constantly scanned for optimal value - that's length and girth for fir,
hemlock, alder and spruce. "It's usually a pretty smooth ride," says
Adams, "but the bigger, gnarlier spruce and hemlock are the hardest on the
machine." Brother John Luoto runs the CAT 325B logloader and occasionally a
D6 CAT. In the thinning part of the Blodgett Tract, he loads from 7-9 log trucks
a day, but hopes it will increase to 12 per day when they get into the clear
It's an efficient but
harmonious crew; that includes Jeremy Zeman, hook tender; Faron Davis, rigging
slinger; and chasers Keith Baller and Tim Ruyle. Yet another person is highly
visible on this operation. Richard Symons, silviculturist and contract
administrator for OSU, is the vital link between the logging contractor and the
research team back at the College of Forestry. He points out the pre-marked
corridors, defined by "rub" trees that will have to be cut at the end,
that guide the direction of the thinning operation. He checks on eight or nine
satellite forest tracts administered by the college.
He is proud that this system takes
no money from the State of Oregon; the profits are directed back to a reserve
fund for teaching and research at the College of Forestry. When he stumbled on a
chunk of metal from an old Pennsylvania-made yarder, he reflected: "This is
a remnant from when the area was yarded by steam engines in the 1920s. That was
when logging depended on brute strength.
Today the name of the game is
"finesse.'" Bob Luoto likes the analogy. Today's timber industry requires
thoughtful planning, open minds, active political involvement, a responsible
attitude . . . and more than a little finesse. "Logging is a big part of
Oregon, and it reaches way beyond us. Betsy
and I are trying to give something back to an industry that has given us so
much." They have certainly done so. The Luoto's Cross & Crown
enterprise has made a major impact on the politics of Oregon logging and the
public awareness of children's support groups like Log a Load for Kids.
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