A Day in the Woods

After a bit of a drive, Tehama FARMS Advanced was greeted with the fresh mountain air on a late spring morning and temperatures that didn’t even warrant a sweatshirt. Sierra Pacific Industries invited our group to attend the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference Inc. “In Woods Forest Harvest Demonstration Day”. This is a day where a group of industry supporters take the time to carve out of the forest a 1-mile trail for groups of students who are led by experts in logging to hike and stop at several stations to see the very impressive logging equipment at work as well as meet and network with a variety of industry professionals.

Once we had been properly fitted with fancy hard hats to ensure everyone was exercising supreme safety, we started off following our leader who was a Wildlife Biologist for Sierra Pacific Industries. As we wandered through the woods we heard from many different local volunteer programs such as The Backcountry Horsemen and Shasta County Search and Rescue and the different ways they work with our logging industry to accomplish different tasks. Not only did we meet volunteer units, we also met Jim Lepage from Lepage Company who’s focus is building and maintaining the logging roads. He spoke with the students about the career opportunities with heavy equipment and why their jobs are so important to the logging companies. Of course safety comes first, so without quality roads the big rig drivers driving heavy loads of logs could not safely get in and out of these deep woods locations, but also how roads that they can safely drive a moderate speed on will increase efficiency and the number of loads one trucker can make with logs in a day. Time = Money.

As we rounded the bend we could hear the loud sound of a saw and smell the fragrance of freshly cut wood. This began our walk into what truly happens in the forest during a harvest. First we learned the different ways there are to fall, or cut down, a tree. We heard from a 30 year wood cutter about the tools and manual labor that goes into cutting a tree by hand which he demonstrated on a HUGE pine tree right in front of us. It was amazing to see his skill, precision, and speed with his chainsaw as well as the ability to make the tree fall exactly where he wanted. He was able to fall and cut into logs roughly 50 trees a day and therefore is used to process the trees who’s trunks are too large in diameter for the heavy equipment that we watched but are able to do closer to 1500-2000 trees in a day. We then followed the process to the landing site that was set up where a harvester was delimbing and cutting trees into “logs” of appropriate length, then a feller-buncher was gathering and loading logs onto a truck to be hauled off the mountain and to a processing plant. It was such an amazing experience to see first hand these GIANT machines at work and meet the men who were behind the controls.

Thank you too all those who took part at the In Woods Demonstration Day and Sierra Pacific Industries for inviting us to take part. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and have a much greater understanding and appreciation for the logging industry as a whole. We hope to be apart of it in the future!

Inland Empire Students Head to the Mountains for a SLEWS Meadow Restoration Project

SLEWS | San Bernardino County | Oct. 26, 2018

Location of Field Day:
Sky Park Santa’s Village, Skyforest, CA

Participating School:
Citrus Valley High School

Mentors:
Natural Resources Conservation Service
– Tomas Aguilar-Campos
American Bird Conservancy – Rachel Smith
Santa Ana Watershed Association – Mari Archer
Orange County Water District – Cameron Macbeth
IERCD Staff – Susie Kirchner, Brian Robey, Alma Eichman, Shari Tindall

Field Day Overview:
30 students from Citrus Valley High School visited Sky Park Santa’s Village to support their efforts in improving the properties’ meadow habitat, which had in the previous decade served as a dumping ground for bark beetle infested trees. We started the day with our favorite warm up game – a rock, paper, scissors tournament. In this game, students compete against their classmates, teachers, and mentors in the traditional game of rock, paper, scissors . However, when a person loses the game to another, they then become a cheerleader for the winner of that round and must chant their name. Eventually, there are only two remaining winners, each with a group of cheerleaders they have picked up along the way, and the final battle occurs.

After the quick warm up, we provided the students an overview and safety discussion and jumped right into the project work for the day. Students planted (and mulched) over 40 native plants, collected seed to distribute in other parts of the site, and removed invasive weeds. We were lucky to be accompanied by a former U.S Forest Service Botanist, Gina Richmond, who guided the students and provided information on each of the plants.

After lunch, we transitioned into learning about forestry and forest health. Especially after this year’s severe fires, it felt like a relevant topic to be sharing with students on how to assess a forest and make recommendations on how to improve its resiliency. Led by our NRCS District Conservationist, Tomas Aguilar-Campos, we showed students how to perform a fixed-radius plot survey to determine the stocking level of a forest and the health of individual trees. We also asked the students how Sky Park could improve their fire resiliency, some of the answers included, “trimming tree limbs”, and “removing trees, especially smaller trees”.

To wrap up the day, we couldn’t leave Sky Park Santa’s Village without having a little fun in the park! Students were able to try out the archery course before heading down the hill back to school. We are looking forward to welcoming these students back for another SLEWS trip in the Spring.