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Forestry History
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Logging truck
Forestry refers to forest management and natural forestry resources. Silviculture is a discipline associated with forestry that concerns reforestation or the regeneration of trees in forests that were once logged and need to be replanted. Logging, within the science of forestry, refers to the operation of felling, delimbing, and transporting trees from the forest to a mill for processing into various wood products.

Logging or tree harvesting entails the felling of part of a tree or the entire tree from the stump up. There are three types of mechanized logging: tree-length logging, full-tree logging, and cut-to-length logging. Each poses certain advantages and disadvantages. In tree-length logging, trees are felled, delimbed, and topped at the stump. The bucking of the tree into sizeable and manageable sections occurs at the landing site. As a result, a slash pile is often created that must be treated. Full-tree logging involves trees being felled, then transported to the roadside with limbs and tops still intact. The delimbing, bucking, and topping of trees occurs at the landing site. In cut-to-length logging, trees are felled, bucked, and then sorted at the stump site. Harvesters are used to fall, delimb, and buck the trees before they are piled into bunks and brought to a landing site by a forwarder.

In Canada, the preferred method of logging still remains full-tree logging. Cut-to-length logging is more common in the felling of smaller sized timber on flat ground or on tree plantations. In European countries like Finland, cut-to-length logging is extremely popular. The use of cut-to-length logging in both the U.S. and Canada depends on the region and type of species of tree being felled. One of the advantages of cut-to-length logging is it leaves a lighter environmental footprint than the other two methods.[1]

Growing environmental concerns are also shaping modern day logging practices. Silviculture has become a controversial topic in the logging industry. Forestry companies in British Columbia are now required to replant every tree cut and at their own expense due to years of massive clearcutting. Debate over the environmental implications of clearcutting as opposed to selective felling also remains a contentious debate.


[edit] History

The First Nations in British Columbia were the first group of people to log the lush rainforests along the province’s west coast long before the first European settlers arrived. The forests were full of red cedar, fir, pine, spruce, and yellow cedar. Red cedar was particularly utilized for its rot-resisting qualities by many coastal tribes in everything from housing, to canoes, tools, baskets, clothing, ornamentation, and totem poles.[2] Large cedar trees along the coastline were felled by first making an undercut in the trunk of the tree with the use of a stone or hardwood wedge driven into the bole by a wooden-handled stone hammer. The felling process was intensive and laborious. The use of iron in the First Nations felling of trees that was scavenged possibly from Chinese junks and other shipwrecks has even been speculated.[3]

Early colonization of North America brought about the necessity for the building of ships and towns. This created an instant demand for lumber and spurned the natural evolution of a logging industry in different parts of the continent. In America, logging began in the 1600s when the first settlers arrived in Jamestown. Logging soon became a pivotal industry in building a North American economy. By the mid-1800s, making paper from wood pulp was also well underway.The Pacific Northwest, in particular, became a logging hot spot and quickly reputed for its top quality timber. By the 1820s, the first sawmills started operating and by 1890, logging companies were harvesting over one billion boards of timber annually, according to the Center of Study of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Washington.[4]

Logging with horses

[edit] Hand Logging

Logging as an industry began as a manual operation. Fellers would fall large trees with saws and axes. Cross-saws were a type of saw that required a team of two men to operate. A cantankerous contraption, the cross-saw weighed about 121 pounds (55 kg) and was quite noisy and cumbersome to maneuver. However, once set into the base of the tree, a cross-saw could fell a tree at swift speeds with relative ease.[5] Others types of saws included buck saws and eventually power-driven chainsaws.

At first, most logging operations were based in close proximity to the water. This way, logs could be dumped directly into the water and floated to a nearby mill. However, as the supply of available lumber near the water was exhausted, logging moved further inland. New methods of rigging and hauling logs were deployed. During the 1800s, teams of oxen, horses, or mules were the first means of hauling logs located further inland to a landing site near water.

Some teams comprised up to eight animals at a time driven by a bull puncher.[6] The animals would drag the tree directly from the felling site, pulling it around stumps and other debris to a skid road. The skid road was a makeshift lumber road used to haul logs from an upland area to water. A common practice at the time was to grease up the skid roads with heavy oil to lessen friction as logs were dragged over them. Thus the term “grease the skids” came to refer to speeding up a process.[7] The logs were placed side by side and then fastened together using a chain. The chain was connected to a pulling mechanism fabricated out of two logs with boards mounted on top that featured a seat for a teamster. Teams of horses or oxen would be fitted to this mechanism to haul logs. Once logs were pulled to the water’s edge, smaller teams of horses would actually be used to build log booms.[8]

Loggers also took advantage of natural water channels to move logs. Log drivers often guided the logs down creeks and streams to more open, accessible waterways. The logs would then be tied together into large rafts or booms.[9] In some logging operations, timber was stored in a type of reservoir located behind a splash dam. When the reservoir became too full, an operator upstream would release the water out of the reservoir. This would enable a downstream operator to generate a surge of water large enough to carry the logs. A cofferdam would also be built to shield the logging camp situated downstream from being washed away by the rush of logs.[10]

Flushing water was also used for transporting logs in long troughs called log flumes that ran from upland areas directly down to a water source. In the Kootenay region of British Columbia, log flumes were an efficient means of moving and funneling logs to saw mills. High mountainous areas surrounding heavily forested valleys abounded with water for use in flumes. The flumes, constructed of sawn lumber, could extend for miles, resembling a modern day waterslide. It was also common to construct flumes on a gradual downgrade. The one drawback of flumes was the cost of building them. Eventually as other means of hauling and moving logs evolved, the use of log flumes diminished.[11]

[edit] Steam Logging with Donkeys

The use of steam donkeys and steam engines coupled with winches in the bush marked the beginning of the mechanization of logging. Steam donkeys modernized logging practices and methods and had a key part in greatly improving productivity. Steam donkeys were first deployed in logging starting in the 1880s and their use continued well up until the 1950s.[12]

The first donkeys were called steam donkeys because they relied on steam power fueled by burning wood. In the 1920s, steam power was replaced by crude oils such as diesel, gasoline, and eventually electric power.[13] The machines from this point on were just referred to as donkeys or diesel winches.

A typical donkey featured drums to hold a cable of wire rope of around 492 feet (150 m).[14] long that were attached to logs to haul them out of the woods, load them at the landing site, move and transport logging equipment and camps, and rig up trees.[15] The very first steam donkeys were single spool and featured a mainline cable and a butt rigging that were dragged back to the felled timber for a second turn by animal power. A second cable line called a haulback line was gradually added that was used to pull the mainline and rigging back to the timber.[16] Eventually, steam donkeys came to replace more outdated rigging and hauling methods of teams of oxen and horses and log flumes.

Steam donkeys used in logging varied in size. At first the term applied to steam engines with less than one horsepower.[17] As their use proved to be effective, larger sized steam donkeys, called skidders or unit skidders, were deployed. Skidders were basically a donkey on skids or tracks and mounted upon a rail car. A Lidgerwood skidder was one of the largest skidders of this type and not only operated as a skidder, hauling and delivering logs directly to the landing site, but also directly loading them onto railroad cars. The Clyde skidder, another popular donkey steam engine mounted on tracks, was capable of grabbing logs at four different points all at the same time.[18]

A smaller type of steam donkey called a cherry picker had an altogether different function in logging operations. Cherry pickers had skids and were mounted on a rail car similar to a skidder but came equipped with a boom arm and were built primarily for retrieving marketable logs that had fallen off railway cars during transport. In a similar fashion as a skidder, the donkey was used to reel the logs in and then tongs on the machine would pick and unload the logs onto flat cars.[19] 
Steam donkeys became the new workhorses of the forest.

[edit] Ground-lead Logging

Logs dragged along the ground by cable via a steam donkey or by a team of horses or oxen along a skid road were known as ground-lead logging.[20] The use of steam donkeys altered the role of loggers in the bush as well. A donkey engineer called a donkey puncher was responsible for the efficient operating and maintenance of the donkey. A hooktender hooked the end of the cable in to the log. When this was done, a whistle punk would blow a whistle to signal the log was ready to be reeled in. The donkey puncher would then engage the steam donkey to reel the log in.[21] The early use of steam donkeys in logging was exclusively based on the signals relayed by the whistle punk.[22]

[edit] High-lead Logging

The large steam-powered donkey skidders used in logging starting in the early 1900s and comprised much more complicated rigging systems than just basic steam donkeys. For example, the skidders used a system of overhead lines and block stations at the top of a huge spar tree. This method of logging became known as high-lead logging and portrayed something of a giant roofless factory in the middle of the forest. The skidder hauled timber by actually suspending the timber way above the ground, in effect "flying" the logs to the landing site. This type of operation in logging today is also called cable logging and yarding.[23] High-lead logging in conjunction with skidders meant that trees situated on mountainous terrain and deep in ravines could finally be reached and logged. Sometimes the skidders would be belted to a railway car that would deliver logs to adjoining railcars for transport.[24] One key element of a successful high-lead logging operation during this time was to find a good, tall spar tree that operated as a center post for the network of cables that stretched out into the bush, snatched the trees and gathered them into loose piles. When high-lead logging was first undertaken in the industry, the average height of a spar tree stood 70 feet (21 m) tall. By 1920 it was common for spar trees to tower at a height of 150 feet (46 m). A logger called a high-rigger wore spiked boots and used a loop of wire cable fastened around the tree to climb it.[25]

[edit] Railroad Logging

The railroad played a very important role in the ever-evolving logging industry. The first railroads for railroad logging were crudely constructed from the very lumber being transported out of the woods. Railroads were initially built to transport lumber from a landing site to the mills for processing. As logging operations were pushed further inland away from the water, railroads were being built to transport timber out of the woods. In fact, it could be argued that railroads provided the first real form of mechanization for hauling logs over long distances of a mile (1.6 km) or more as early as the late 1800s.[26] Railway logging had many advantages. Railroads could operate in rougher terrain than horses or oxen could. Tracks could be laid on steeper grades and be expanded deep out into the woods. Railways could also haul greater volumes of timber using flat or rail cars in a shorter amount of time directly to the mills. Loggers also now had an effective means of transportation in and out of woods traveling on a specially rigged rail car called a crummy. The crummy was outfitted with wooden benches and an oil drum heater with a smoke stack jutting out of the roof provided warmth.[27]

Coupled with the use of high-lead logging and steam donkeys, the logging industry saw an unprecedented level of productivity for the first time. By 1912 in B.C., for example, there was an estimated 227 miles (365 km) of railroad track laid by 22 different logging companies along the coast.[28] Building the railways was very expensive though. Another drawback was the problem of trains getting derailed off railway tracks.

[edit] Logging Trucks

The demise of railroad logging was precipitated by the use of log trucks. In B.C., logging trucks began replacing railroad logging by the 1940s.[29] Eventually trucks became competitive with the railways and proved to be not only more cost efficient to use, but more agile and reliable for moving logs out of the bush, especially at higher elevations.
The introduction of internal combustion engines such as gasoline engines and diesel engines and their subsequent wide spread adoption in automobiles quickly provided an alternative to smaller logging operations who could not afford to invest in the building of railways. Some of the first logging trucks ever used ran along plank roads constructed from rough-hewn timber. While the adoption of logging trucks into the industry was slow, a surplus of military trucks after World War I and again after World War II boosted their use in logging.[30] Advancements in truck design and engine horsepower meant trucks could haul bigger and heavier loads over greater distances. The development of better, safer braking systems and the implementation of sturdier pneumatic tires with more durable treads also catapulted the gradual deployment of trucks in logging.[31] Other factors that led to the switch over from railways to trucks was the onslaught of available earthmoving machinery after World War II. Such equipment as bulldozers and dump trucks were being used to carve out logging roads in the woods. Building roads with bulldozers was cheaper and less time consuming than using manual crews.

[edit] Logging Equipment

By the latter part of the 19th century, a second round of mechanization in logging occurred with a shift from the reliance on manual labor and chainsaws to fell trees to a reliance on specialized felling and harvesting equipment. The nature of the industry dramatically changed, becoming a year-round job as opposed to just a seasonal one. The use of large harvesting machinery also altered the forest landscape. More roads and landing sites were being built than ever before and forests were quickly being stripped without ample time to regenerate. Clearcutting resulted in soil erosion and the relocation of wildlife.

A Caterpillar grapple loader piles logs
The wheeled skidder, introduced in the 1960s, was just one of many specialized pieces of logging equipment that made its way into the woods and changed the way logging was carried out. New machinery also reorganized the way loggers worked. With the skidder, loggers worked in organized five-person teams in a kind of assembly line—two men felled the tree, one skidder operator hauled the tree out of the woods, and two more men bucked the tree into smaller sections.[32] From 1960 on, an array of new logging equipment such as slashers, feller bunchers, forwarders, and single-grip harvesters were further developed and utilized in the woods in the place of manual labor. Logging soon developed into an industry demanding skilled loggers working year round instead of unskilled seasonal loggers.[33]

[edit] Logging Today: A Snapshot of B.C.

Forests comprise approximately two thirds of British Columbia’s landmass. Major species of trees indigenous to B.C. that are logged include western red cedar, ponderosa pine, and lodge pole pine. The majority of the province’s land is publicly owned, meaning the management of B.C. forests falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. The government allocates what it calls Crown land to large forestry companies through the sale of stumpage fees and a regulated annual cut of trees. These forestry companies then hire independent contractors and therefore, much of B.C.’s logging today is contract-based.[34]

The wood produced is mostly softwood used to make lumber, plywood, shakes, shingles, newsprint, and pulp and paper products. In fact, half of Canada’s softwood lumber comes directly from B.C. and forest products have historically accounted for almost half of the province’s exports. However, the role of logging in driving the B.C. economy began to fall off in the 1990s. In the last few decades, the logging industry has been fraught with challenges including lower priced forest products and a lengthy drawn out softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. government. These changes are evidenced by a notable drop in employment levels within the industry.[35]

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Forestry Equipment

[edit] Equipment List

[edit] References

  1. Stories from the Woods: Logging, At What Length? John Deere, 2008-09-30.
  2. Gold, Wilmer, Logging As It Was, Morris Publishing, 1985, pg. 36
  3. Gold, Wilmer, Logging As It Was, Morris Publishing, 1985, pg. 36
  4. History of Logging AxMen TV series, 2008-09-30.
  5. The Work: Machinery. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  6. The Work: Transportation. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  7. West Burnside: Logging the Skid Row. Shots of Portland, June, 2007. (accessed: 2008-09-30)
  8. Logging Operations in South Surrey, 2008-09-30.
  9. History of Logging AxMen TV series, 2008-09-30.
  10. Leitz, Eric. Steam Donkeys: monuments to history of logging. Argonaut, 2008-09-30.
  11. Logging Railways, Flumes and Trucks., 2008-09-30.
  12. Our Logging Heritage. Camp 2, 2008-09-30.
  13. The Work: Machinery. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  14. The Work: Machinery. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  15. Our Logging Heritage. Camp 2, 2008-09-30.
  16. Wright, Tim. High-Lead Logging on the Olympic Peninsula: 1920s-30s. Olympic Peninsula Community Museum, 2008-09-30.
  17. Our Logging Heritage. Camp 2, 2008-09-30.
  18. Skidder., 2008-09-30.
  19. The Work: Machinery. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  20. Hull, Tom. Technology and Culture. The John Hopkins University Press, April, 2003. (accessed: 2008-09-30)
  21. The Work: Machinery. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  22. The Work: Workers' Roles. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  23. Wright, Tim. High-Lead Logging on the Olympic Peninsula: 1920s-30s. Olympic Peninsula Community Museum, 2008-09-30.
  24. The Work: Machinery. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  26. Logging Railways, Flumes and Trucks., 2008-09-30.
  27. The Work: Transportation. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  28. The Work: Transportation. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  29. The Work: Transportation. From Camp to Community, 2008-09-30.
  30. The Timberman. Log Truck Stirs Dust through Clearcut. The Oregon History Project, 2008-09-30.
  31. The Timberman. Log Truck Stirs Dust through Clearcut. The Oregon History Project, 2008-09-30.
  32. Impacts of Mechanization. Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2008-09-30.
  33. Impacts of Mechanization. Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2008-09-30.
  34. Forestry and Logging., 2008-09-30.
  35. Forestry and Logging., 2008-09-30.