One Answer to the Future
More Fiber chooses cut-to-length machinery
when planning for the future
By Morley Young
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,
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
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