March April, 2004





Nontraditional Logging

Broadfoot Logging LLC copes successfully with the challenges of both plantation harvesting and traditional logging

(The Timber Pro TB820E, outfilled with a Quadco hot saw, efficiently harvests the hybrid poplars while keeping sand damage to the head at a minimum)

By Barbara Coyner

While most loggers deal with mud and steep terrain, Bruan Broadfoot and his crew cope with sand and generally flat surfaces.  True, Broadfoot's circumstances sound easier, but the ever-present sand wears down cutting heads, influces road conditions, and even determines equipment choices.  To hear the Hermiston, Oregon logging contractor talk about sand, you’d think he was logging the desert. And in a way, his work at Potlatch Corporahile most loggers deal with mud and steep terrain, tion’s hybrid poplar plantation resembles it. The 17,000-acre Bryan Broadfoot and his crew cope with sand and semi-arid site relies on thousands of miles of drip tubing in-generally flat surfaces. True, Broadfoot’s circum-stead of rain to irrigate trees intended to furnish pulp to the stances sound easier, but the ever-present sand wears down corporation’s mills. Although recently Potlatch’s grand cutting heads, influences road conditions, and even deter-grow-your-own-pulp experiment has moved from pulp pro-mines equipment choices. To hear the Hermiston, Oregon duction to quality hardwood poplar saw logs, Broadfoot Logging’s trials by sand remain. “We always refer to our work there as harvesting, because it’s not at all your typical logging,” says Mary Ann Warnock, Broadfoot’s mother and business partner.

Jason Broadfoot (left) provides vital repair and maintenance services to Broadfoot Logging’s equipment, thanks to a specially equipped service truck, complete with welding tools and an 8000-pound crane. Pictured with Jason are (left to right) Mary Ann Warnock, Chris Broadfoot and Bryan Broadfoot

Learning the Hard Way
Nearly eight years ago, Mary Ann found herself on a steep learning curve when her husband Ron Broadfoot was killed in a logging accident on his 50th birthday. The couple had started the logging company in 1985, and the accident left Mary Ann to choose its destiny. With the help of eldest son Bryan, and a trusted business associate, Broadfoot Logging survived, keeping a crew employed and venturing into high tech equipment. But the company’s most unusual break came A fifth-wheel hitch quickly shifts the as Bryan approached Potlatch Corporation about its giant hybrid loaded trailer from the Timbco TB 820E poplar experiment at Boardman. to a truck. All hauling is done over “Pat Moore had just come to the plantation for Potlatch and Potlatch Corporation roads so the over-was fresh into the challenge,” he recalls. “He wanted to look sized loads never enter the highways. at all the options and the capabilities of any machine that could do the work. As we got started, we tried single grips, but they failed miserably.” Broadfoot further details the trial and error selections, noting, “We were using equipment that had to be modified to the custom harvest of a crop.” Because the plantation was laid out in grid fashion with different trial clones in each section, Broad-foot and Moore worked closely to solve harvest challenges. When the time came to hire on as a steady contractor, Broadfoot swayed Potlatch with a solid track record and several practical options. “It’s a nonstop challenge everyday,” says Broadfoot of the company’s work at the plantation. “People from the outside think this is a piece of cake, but there’s even more challenge here than with traditional logging.”

The fifth-wheel hitch quickly shifts the loaded trailer from the Timbco TB 820E to a truck.  All hauling is done over Potlatch Corporation roads so the over-sized loads never enter the highways.

Handling Challenges
Although their crew works on generally flat terrain on a year-round schedule, Broad-foot notes differences in both cutting and hauling techniques, with the abrasive sand always a factor. “We haul trees, guts, feathers and all,” he says of the standard company cargo, which is all shuttled within the plantation on oversized 12-foot wide by 68-foot long trailers that quickly interchange between either a Timbco TF 820D or TB 820E and a waiting truck (Mary Ann and her husband J.R. operate Warnock Trucking specifically for the plantation work). The Timbcos are each fitted with grapples and heel racks, and each can maneuver over the sand, debris and mud as they pick up harvested trees within the cutting units. Meanwhile, a TimberPro TB 820E with a 20-inch Quadco hot saw cuts upwards of 5000 stems per day to keep the trucks busy shuttling loads of either saw logs or pulp to a central processing site. Potlatch currently plans to convert many of its older growth units from pulp to saw logs, harvesting on a 10 to 12-year rotation. “When Potlatch switched us from cutting pulp to cutting saw logs, we had to make a cleaner cut, so we got the hot saw,” Broadfoot explains. “It has a lot more life and a lot less wear and tear. The arms on it are long enough to grab a blown down tree and bring it into the saw without going into the sand.” There’s that sand element again, and Broadfoot constantly factors it into the family company’s bottom line. They previously ran an intermittent disk, but he explains that the sand was destroying the unit faster than it could be rebuilt because it tended to saw straight into the sand. Then there’s the issue of rubber tires versus tracks. According to Broadfoot, the plantation manager had a thing against tracks initially because of ground sensitivity, plus the sand damage to the undercarriage of a track machine had its own downside. In the long run, rubber tires were the answer and Broadfoot boasts that his Timbco 820D has 10,000 hours on it, yet still has 80 percent rubber left on its tires.

The Pro Mac brushcutter is used by Broadfoot Logging for thinning and restoration work done in other areas, not on the hybrid poplar plantation.

Thinning and Restoring
A secondary bonus is that the company also contracts with private landowners on separate fire and restoration work in other areas, and clusters its jobs so the rubber-tired machines don’t have to be trucked between sites as often. The restoration work, more traditional in nature, allows Broadfoot Logging to run a Timber Pro 620E with a Pro Mac 52 COS brushcutter or other attachments. As Potlatch continues its plantation experiment, both Broadfoot and Warnock admit they do a steady equipment shuffle, always looking for better efficiency. But how do they stay on top of their equipment choices? “We go to a lot of logging conferences,” says Warnock, who is herself a board member for the Intermountain Logging Conference. “We’ve been everybody’s guinea pig and we’ve had to reinvent as we go,” she adds, noting that companies such as Timber Pro and General Trailer take their ideas to the drawing boards and also extend great service through local dealerships. The Pape Machinery dealership out of Bend has been Broadfoot Logging’s mainstay.

One Big Family
As Bryan’s wife Chris helps monitor the office, his brother Jason furnishes repair and maintenance to keep costs down. Jason, who is being groomed as a future partner, pilots a full-service support vehicle, complete with tools and safety equipment, a portable welder and an 8,000-pound crane. “Jason does all our tire work, and the service truck paid for itself the first year because we didn’t have to have a dealer or tire outfit come out on service calls,” Broadfoot says, adding that Jason also drives lowboy for the company. Youngest brother Jerod works in related timber activities with Pac West Communications of Wilsonville, which played a part in the passage of President Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative. Thanks to a cooperative family team, operations run smoothly, and Bryan notes, “As a family, we have that go-ahead attitude that helps us stay efficient.” Broadfoot also offers high praise for his crewmembers, who are out there every day. He points out that each piece of equipment bears the op-erator’s name, ensuring a team spirit and sense of pride. Operating over miles and miles of plantation roads, fighting mud and sand, Broadfoot details plantation plans and tree growth cycles. He used to pop in to visit with Pat Moore (who passed away in February). The two collaborated on the latest harvest experiments. Moore might have asked for 15 trees of a specific age, in order to show potential buyers what the hardwoods will look like in two years. Or Moore might have show off a new cabinet or molding featuring hybrid poplar hardwood. Meanwhile, Bryan Broadfoot also thinks outside the box. “We’re already looking forward to Phase Two and bigger trees,” he says. “We have to be ahead of the game so when Potlatch Corporation is ready, we can be ready.” For a young guy thrust into the leadership role at an early age, he can’t afford to relax. “We want to be at the head of the class, and the only way to stay ahead is to keep on top of technology.”


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This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 28, 2004