Every five years the PLC sponsors a ‘day in the woods’- it was actually three days this year – with real-life demonstrations of the latest logging equipment. But it was much more than just a show as.the machines were carrying out production logging, with loading and hauling carried out at night so as not to interfere with the spectators. Loggers came from throughout the west and the Pacific to watch the new machines in action and determine which they would like to use in their operations. Traditional rubber-tyred and tracked machines were in the mix. But it wasn’t just loggers. The PLC invited school children and their parents, as well as the general public, to tour the operations in a low-key effort to educate them on the benefits of forest management. This not only supplies jobs for the economy, but it improves forest productivity and protects other forestland benefits; some 2,400 students toured the demonstration.
The set-up this year was on the Longview Fibre Nehalem tree farm near Clatskanie, Oregon, near where large scale timber harvesting started a century ago on the Columbia River. The 5,000 logger participants rode buses to the top of a hill and then walked down through the exhibits on a 1.3 mile series of logging and skid roads through 186 acres of second-growth forest. There were 19 activity sites with 10 manufacturers actively logging. Nearly 75 manufacturers from the US, Canada, Japan and Scandinavia were represented. Static displays and information centres were scattered along the way with a large tent housing many more exhibitors. Tree felling is probably the most changed in operations because of the smaller timber now logged in the younger stands. The machines grab stems, cut them off at the stump, turn them parallel to the ground, snub off the branches, and cut them to length, almost automatically, with the operator computer-controlling the operation from the machine’s cab.
This has made the job much more efficient, while reducing breakage, when compared with conventional chain-saw felling. Forwarders move the logs to the landing for loading. The increasing emphasis on forest thinning generates ever-smaller wood suited for commercial power generation. Sophisticated chippers were also demonstrated. Perhaps the show’s star was a huge S-64 helicopter, which demonstrated the art of helicopter logging. Erickson Air-Crane Inc of Central Point, Oregon now manufactures the Sikorsky model in addition to using it for logging and for fighting forest fires.