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TimberWest November/December 2013

January/February 2015

Photo taken of the Blazzard mill pond in Kama, Utah. A Long History in Utah

Timber Management
Sustainablity and diversity keep Three Rivers Logging in operation

A Long History in Utah
Blazzard Lumber has run a successful logging and milling operation since the 1800s

Vashon Forest Stewards
Selling a new vision of forestry to the public

Harvests, Thins & Logjams
If it has to do with timber harvesting, Harkness Contracting can probably handle it

Woody Biomass- Something old, something new...


In the News

Association News

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Guest Column

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Three Rivers LoggingTimber Management

Three Rivers Logging

By Mary Bullwinkel

From the time he was a young man, fourth generation timber operator and rancher Graham Cottrell has worked in the great outdoors. When Cottrell was 24-years-old he incorporated Three Rivers Logging in Bridgeville, a remote area of Humboldt County, Calif.

The newest equipment addition to Three Rivers Logging is a Caterpillar 320C heel boom loader, which is seen here loading logs on one of two logging trucks owned by the Bridgeville, Calif. company.

He started logging using a D-4 ranch Cat, soon upgraded to a D-6, and also purchased a Caterpillar 955 Traxcavator. That was in 1958, a time when the addition of the Traxcavator to his operations also brought him into the local spotlight, when the machinery dealer featured Cottrell and his new Cat in a newspaper ad.

The Wisdom of Forest Management

When Cottrell started his business, he decided to take a different approach to the logging operations on the family property. Seeing a future in timber management on the property, his approach to the timber harvesting was more conservative.

“I wanted to end up with a lot of growing timber, which we have now,” Cottrell says. “In the past (before I took over) logging was not being good on the ground.” He adds, “It shows you that even when they did what they did, that it [the timber] comes back. With the logging techniques we use now, we will be able to log continuously on the ranch.”

Contrell estimates a growing timber inventory of 150 million board feet, with more than half of that volume off-limits to timber harvest because of restrictions.

Three Rivers LoggingAt 24, Graham Cottrell established Three Rivers Logging in 1958, and purchased a Caterpillar 955 Traxcavator to get the business started.

New Generations Take the Helm

Fast forward to the present, and you’ll find the fifth and sixth generations of the Cottrell family also involved in actively managing the land for both timber production and ranching. Cottrell’s daughter and husband Leslie and Wes Moore, and their son Clayton live on the property next to where Cottrell and wife Gloria make their home. Graham and Gloria Cottrell have been married for 56 years.

Keeping it all in the family, Gloria does the bookkeeping for the ranching management and Leslie does the bookkeeping for the logging operations.

Varying Timber Harvests

Cottrell says the amount of timber harvest on the property varies from year to year depending on the market. “The [Douglas] fir market is good this year.” However, there have been years when no logging takes place because of the financial infeasibility.

Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine are the main species coming off the property. Three Rivers Logging uses its own log trucks for hauling. The business owns two 1994 Peterbilt log trucks, both in excellent running condition. This is an important factor because of the distance the logs are trucked.

“We take the larger logs to Sierra Pacific Industries in Arcata, and the 12-inches and under logs go to Sierra Pacific Industries in Anderson,” Cottrell says. The round-trip mileage to Anderson is 225 miles, and the round-trip mileage to Arcata is about half of that.

The logging in 2014 produced about four to five loads a day. Timber is falled in the morning, and logs are skidded in the afternoon. “We only skid our logs just a few hours a day,” Cottrell says.

Three Rivers Logging is a family business owned by Graham and Gloria Cottrell (far right). The Cottrell’s grandson Clayton is getting to know the family business and is also pictured with truck driver Bud Harmon (far left) and logging crew member Andy Grant (second from left).

Decades of Teamwork

Three Rivers Logging is a small family-based operation. Standing side-by-side with the Cottrell family in conducting the business is Marvin Grant and his two sons, Andy and Robbie. The Grant family has worked for Three Rivers Logging for more than 20 years.

Not only are members of the crew “jacks of all trades” so to speak, they are also quite good mechanics. If a piece of logging equipment breaks down, it usually isn’t too long before the problem is diagnosed and fixed. The Grant family falls timber, skids logs, loads logging trucks, drives log trucks, and conducts roadwork for Three Rivers Logging.

Right Blend of Iron

The most recent piece of equipment added to the logging operations on the Cottrell property is a Caterpillar 320C heel boom loader that was purchased in Prineville, Ore., where it was part of B & S Logging operations. Now it’s hard at work on the Cottrell property. “It works very well with our operations,” Cottrell says.

Three Rivers Logging also uses a Caterpillar 517 Swing boom grapple, which Cottrell says is “the best machine I’ve ever had as far as protecting the residual trees and the regrowth.” That is vital to Cottrell’s vision for long-term sustainable management of the property. A Caterpillar 966 loader is also part of the operations. Cottrell calls the 966 a really good performer. “If you’ve got the room for it, and larger logs, it works better.”

Three Rivers LoggingThree Rivers Logging truck driver Bud Harmon brings a load of Douglas fir logs off the Cottrell Ranch.

Harvesting & Roadwork

Contributing to the success of the logging business is that some of the same equipment used in timber harvesting can also be used for roadwork. The Grant family not only works the logging side, they do the roadwork as well. “We are able to use a lot of the logging equipment for the roadwork,” Cottrell says, “and we use the same people. They just go from one to the other.”

In addition to the equipment used for logging, the roadwork uses two Case excavators, a CX130 and a CX210. Both are very capable machines according to Cottrell. Three Rivers Logging has also converted two old logging trucks to dump trucks to use with the roadwork. The roadwork is mainly restoration; the installation of culverts, rolling dips, and other watershed improvements. Cottrell says there are almost 100 miles of rocked road on the property.

The Cottrell family has several rock pits and rock quarries on the property, which provide a convenient supply of materials used in the roadwork.

Cottrell hesitates when asked if he wants 12-year-old grandson Clayton to follow in his footsteps. Cottrell says since he got into the business, “Logging has changed so much…it’s totally changed. The way everything is designed makes it expensive and discourages many from doing it.”

Three Rivers LoggingThree Rivers Logging crew Bud Harmon (left) and Andy Grant are being watched as they secure a load of Douglas fir logs by Clayton Moore, the sixth generation member of the Cottrell family to be part of the logging and ranching business.

Education for the Future

When Clayton is older, Cottrell would like to see him and his family continue managing the property, but prior to that he thinks his grandson needs to get a good background in business administration through a college education.

“Owning something like this…it really doesn’t always pay for itself,” Cottrell says. “You have to have the knowledge to be able to afford this, even though it’s been in your family for years.”

The Cottrell family has owned and managed the property near Bridgeville, Calif., since 1865, when Graham’s great grandfather Hugh W. McClellan settled in the area to raise sheep. McClellan was one of the first residents in the area and was one of its most extensive landowners.

Logging on the ranch began in 1946 when the philosophy was to rid the land of the trees and make more space for livestock grazing. Cottrell says for about the first ten years of logging, timber was removed as rapidly as possible, and various small mills operated on the property.

Today, both timber and ranch management are conducted in a sustainable manner, and the Cottrell family plans to stay that course to continue that type of operation into the future.