Green Diamond Resource CompanyCaterpillar 568 shovel logger at work.

Staying on Top

Article and images by Mary Bullwinkel

An ongoing focus on efficient operations and a series of improvements and new approaches to forest management and logging practices over the last five years have pushed Green Diamond Resource Company to its current place as an industry leader.


The company’s commitment is to use a science-based approach to actively manage its timberlands for wood production, while protecting wildlife, fisheries, and water quality. So says Jason Carlson, vice president of Green Diamond Resource Company.

“There have been some changes in direction over the last five years for the company, including moving away from tractor logging to shovel logging in even-age timber units,” Carlson says. “This came about after the company began working with state agencies on property-wide permits for road management, watercourse crossings, and water quality protection.” These permits are based on comprehensive wildlife, fisheries, and botanical surveys and monitoring.

“During the development of property-wide permits, we undertook a review of our harvesting practices. As a result,” he says, “we borrowed the practice of shovel logging from the Pacific Northwest and eliminated tractor yarding in even-aged units.”

Green Diamond Resource Company3554 John Deere working alongside a Madill yarder.

Reducing Impact

Carlson says this practice has resulted in greatly reduced ground disturbance and allows ground-based operations to continue through the winter. Other methods of logging at Green Diamond to reduce environmental impact include using cable logging on all slopes greater than 35 percent and increasing a thinning program in the company’s third-growth (30 to 40-year-old) timber.

He adds, “To help achieve our acreage goals we have utilized fully mechanized cut-to-length operations that fall and yard [timber] without the need for skid trails, operate on steep slopes using tethering, and can operate in the winter months.”

A Mighty, Well-Equipped Workforce

Green Diamond Resource Company’s California operations rely on a workforce of 200 company loggers, foresters, resource specialists, and administrative personnel and 300 contract timber fallers, cable and shovel logging, and trucking professionals.

In the logging end of the business, workers are union organized and represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The company has three yarder sides, operating two Madill 124 swing yarders and one Madill 255B swing yarder. Each yarder is accompanied by a D8 Caterpillar to assist with rigging and move-in.

“The yarders have the option to use a mechanical or motorized carriage (ACME or Bowman) and a 106-inch grapple. And all three yarders use electric chokers,” says John Davis, Green Diamond Resource Company California Operations Manager.

The company also has three shovel sides supported by three dedicated shovels, a John Deere 3756G, John Deere 3754D, and a Cat 568, along with a Cat 558 that shifts between yarding and loading.

“Two of the shovels run with fully mechanized falling and processing operations, and one with hand-felled units,” Davis says.

Loading shovels include a John Deere 3554, two Cat 558s, a Cat 325, and a Cat 568 with a Southstar combination processing/loading head that is assigned to a yarder. Davis says the company also runs two processors, a John Deere 3756G with a Southstar 635 head, and a Cat 548 with a Southstar 600 head.

Green Diamond Resource CompanyGreen Diamond is optimistic about the timber industry in the local area with the opening of the North Fork Lumber Company mill. (Pictured: John Deere 3554.)

Because of the terrain, timber falling is done by a combination of contractor hand fallers and feller bunchers, according to Davis. With regard to trucking, Davis says that during the summer, the company averages 250 to 275 loads of logs per day.

In addition to conventional logging, Davis says, there are three Miller Timber cut-to-length sides on company property. “They use a Ponsee 294 Tethered Elephant King Harvester and a Ponsee 295 Tethered Bear Forwarder,” Davis says. “These two pieces of equipment are the largest machines that Ponsee currently makes at their factory. They work well in our redwood stands and have the track power to travel over our broken terrain.”

Green Diamond Resource Company also has dedicated road construction and maintenance crews. “We are blessed with well-placed rock pits across the ownership that allows us to rock our mainline and key spur roads to support winter operations,” Davis says. During winter months, Green Diamond Resource Company operates three yarder sides and one shovel side.

Equipment utilized by the road crew includes four Cat dozers, a D5, D6, and two D8s, two Cat motor graders (a 140 and 153), three Kenworth dump trucks, and three Cat excavators (a 314, 330, and 345).Davis said the company also utilizes a Cat 972 wheel loader for rock loading, a Cat C5 roller, a Cat 420 backhoe for culvert work, and a Cat 320 brush cutter to support road safety.

Connecting with the Next Generation

Recently local high school students participating in the Boots on the Ground program (see related story) took a field trip to observe Green Diamond Resource Company yarder and shovel operations. This program targets young people who are interested in working in the timber industry. “We do hire kids with no experience,” the students were told by Green Diamond Resource Company Logging manager Kevin Nichols.

“We’ll start you at ground zero and train you,” said Nichols, at the site of the company’s active logging operations. “I know it looks intimidating, but no one expects you to know everything. If you have the desire and the ability, you can work anywhere out here.”

About the Boots on the Ground program, Carlson says it’s a tremendous opportunity to show students active logging operations and experience today’s sophisticated machinery in action. “It also provides students an opportunity to talk to both the logging bosses and the equipment operators to develop an understanding of what it takes to become a logger,” he says. “We look forward to seeing these kids in the future as part of our workforce.”

In addition to the Boots on the Ground program, Green Diamond also hosts field trips for elementary and high school students to expose them to various fields of natural resources.

“As a timber company, we need a reliable local workforce to support our forest management program,” Carlson says, “and that means timber fallers, equipment operators, mechanics, and truck drivers.”

The company works with local trucking organizations and College of the Redwoods (CR) to actively recruit and support participation in the truck driving program. “Graduates [of the CR program] are guaranteed a job with a local trucking company,” says Carlson.

Its role in the local community is something that Green Diamond Resource Company takes seriously, contributing to a wide variety of causes and organizations. The company is actively involved with Get Ready Humboldt, a program that engages with local youth to educate them about local vocational and professional jobs and career opportunities. The company also works closely with the forestry, fisheries, and wildlife programs at Humboldt State University.

Looking Ahead

Carlson is optimistic about Green Diamond Resource Company’s California operations. “We are seeing the expansion of the timber industry in the local area with the opening of the North Fork Lumber Company mill on the site previously occupied by our Korbel sawmill.” The original Korbel sawmill shutdown in February 2015 and was reopened as North Fork Lumber Company in late 2017.

“We ceased lumber manufacturing operations at the Korbel and Eureka facilities to focus the California Division on timberlands management, log marketing, and wood chip exports,” says Carlson. Since then the company has developed strong relationships with the mills in the local market area, including log supply agreements that provide certainty for both Green Diamond and the mills.

Looking ahead, Green Diamond Resource Company is working to expand its wood chip (conifer and hardwood) business to both overseas and domestic markets. In 2013, the company’s Humboldt Bay export dock was certified under Forest Stewardship Council chain of custody control for certified materials.

The company has continued to increase its land holdings, and Carlson says, “There are also exciting regional discussions regarding opportunities for wood-based energy products that utilize smaller diameter material from fuel hazard reduction and forest health projects.”

It looks like a bright future ahead.

TimberWest November/December 2013
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