By Ken Boness
You and I do our morning hygiene routines absentmindedly, our thoughts drifting to what the day might hold, what yesterday held, and what tomorrow might bring. Today my thoughts are on continuing to move equipment onto this winter’s logging site about sixty miles south of Lake Superior and knocking the air out of the snow on the road so it will freeze and support logging trucks. There was a recent morning when my thoughts were not as pleasant. Not nearly.
Although I am not an avid—or even mild—radio listener, my normal routine is to get my radio fix for the day by playing the bathroom radio while I am in there. My primary purpose is to catch up on news, particularly international, national, and state. Tuned to public radio, I listen to (or ignore) whatever programming is on while awaiting the next newscast. On this particular day, ignoring was out of the question because two topics that interest me—logging and forest fires—were interwoven in the dialogue.
Although I continue to oversee timber harvests, I no longer personally own any logging equipment other than an armful of chainsaws. Although I have fought a few forest fires while employed by the U. S. Forest Service that, too, is a thing of my past. Gone, but certainly not forgotten, for the logistics, the strategies, the variety of equipment, and methods still hold my interest.
The particular public radio segment I was listening to focused on the horrid fires western states have hosted this year. The destruction was being discussed by two men and a hostess. She was doing quite well, spurring responses by posing solid and reasonable questions. I cannot describe all of the answers with similar adjectives.
The younger of the two men had a pet—and memorized—response when discussing what could have been done to reduce the number of lost structures. Removing flammable biomass is the natural answer but this bozo couldn’t let it rest there. Within a span of mere minutes I heard him repeatedly pronounce that, “Loggers aren’t interested in saving homes. They don’t care. They just want to log big patches of trees.” In a moment, the guest repeated the foregoing sentences, practically verbatim. And as soon as an opportunity arose, he vocalized those thoughts yet another time or two.
That is when I silenced the radio for my own safety: I was shaving.
A short distance behind my home is a basswood (or American Linden) tree that is over-mature and not as sound as it used to be. I could fell it for I have chainsaws large enough and bars long enough to tip the old tree over. No thank you; within its reach is both a structure and a powerline. I want someone with the right insurance to do the job. I want someone who can take this tree apart from the top down if necessary. I want a professional arborist, not a logger.
The dude on the radio apparently didn’t understand the difference between arborists and loggers. That loggers aren’t equipped to work on lawns and clean up the twigs and smooth the landscape afterward. That a logger’s setup isn’t as nimble to relocate as is an arborist’s. That the two endeavors are quite dissimilar.
Okay, so the guy is uninformed or chooses to accept the differences. What really burned my fanny was the insinuation that loggers could not care less that homes, garages, stables, and vineyards were destroyed. And lives with them. “Loggers don’t care,” dripped from his lips.
“You fool,” I thought as my finger punched the “Off” button, all the while saying a prayer that somehow Public Radio would be notified that they had lost a listener. Perhaps this screwball will again be on the air. I would have called in that day had a commitment not loomed. It would be lovely if the circumstances were different and I would again hear that phrase. He deserves to know what a sweet guy I am and how caring you are.
I served in the military, and I understand the freedoms I had a hand in protecting. His freedom of speech is no less than mine nor no greater. The fact that he wasn’t representing the facts fairly indicated that he either didn’t know or chose to ignore, having a bias against people like you and me.
On this day, a window of opportunity wasn’t open for me. The phrase, “Too bad, so sad,” is not an option. Being invited to compose this column is a window that did open, and I have relayed this scenario on the pages of another logging publication, as well.
We all need to seize opportunities—written, oral, however—to set the record straight and explain the role of loggers in a reasonable manner. Danny Dructor, a spokesperson for American Loggers Council and an acquaintance of mine, comes to mind. Not all of us have Danny’s passion but all of us have sufficient knowledge of our industry to represent it. Even to one person who is not part of the logging world; every little bit helps. A Chinese proverb states that, “The longest journey starts with a single step.” ‘Tis time to start walking.
On the Cover
Lindsey R. Mohlere captures David Jackson operating a CAT 325D paired with a Log Max 10000 processing head
NW Strike Teams Battle Fire Northwest strike teams demobilize after fighting the Thomas Fire.
First on the Slope
Siegmund Excavation & Construction offer full-service, steep-slope logging.
Taking a Chance on Changes
Tri-Star Logging had no idea of industry changes when it started out in 1986.
World’s Second-Largest Yarder
Dahlgren’s tower boosts productivity with Series 60 engine repower.
Man on a Mission
Todd Smith’s love of old logging equipment.