75TH Annual Oregon Logging Conference Sustaining the Future • Eugene, Oregon

The 75th edition of the Oregon Logging Conference (OLC) opened to a better than average crowd during its four day run from February 20-23rd at the Lane County Fairgrounds. While the Oregon Women In Timber’s (OWIT) Auction was the opening event at the Eugene Hilton on Wednesday evening. The main conference and equipment show began with the 7 a.m. Opening Session Breakfast Thursday morning, which led into the opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. brought to order promptly by OLC Conference President Don Hardwick.

Pacific Logging Congress President Graham Lasure spoke on their upcoming annual meeting in Las Vegas this November, and the 2014 Live in the Woods Show being held on the Port Blakely Tree Farm outside Mollala, Oregon.

The OLC Program update came from OLC Vice President Milt Moran, and the resolutions were read and explained by AOL’s Jim Geisinger, followed by President Hardwick’s address.

The Keynote Speaker at this year’s conference was Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), a member of congress since 1986. He began reading a recent letter to the editor printed in the Eugene Register Guard, whose author noted, “...as the timber industry steps aside,” (in favor of our Oregon forests best usage being a Carbon Sink), he had a plan for loggers. “In his view of the world we’ll retrain all of you as “carbon traders,” and of course continuing on with more lunacy.

DeFazio noted, “I had a problem with that.”

The thrust of DeFazio’s presentation was around, “...we need to move towards balance,” speaking not only on forest management but public policy from the federal government as well.

While the congressman is not a spellbinding speaker, he holds a breadth of institutional memory in having seen many plans come and go, and witnessed the goal posts, with balance in the middle, being moved and compromised closer to a far more socialist point of view over time, and at times appears to understand balance requires flexibility from the left as well as the right.

New technology

There’s always a good crowd at the new technology panel at the OLC, which proved to be true this year as well. First up was Ed Bruser, with Bendix Brakes, presenting their Bendix Air Disc Brake System and demonstrating the technical aspects of disc brakes on truck trailers. Immediately following him was Bill Hermann (Hermann Bros. Logging & Const., Port Angeles, WA) outlining his companies practical application with this braking system. Hermann was enthusiastic in explaining their experience. “There are no adjustment issues with disc brakes,” Hermann noted, and added that while the system costs more initially however, “...the insurance company makes an adjustment (in rates) if you put safety device on your gear.” He added that “...the parts you have to keep on hand are minimal compared to (conventional) brake drums and, “...it’s the same replacement equipment and parts for trucks as for trailers.” 

Hermann Bros. has this system on four of their trucks to date. He explained they’ve also added GPS tracking systems on their trucks and noted “...when you do (GPS tracking system), pick one recognized by your insurance company. We got more than 15% reduction on the insurance for our truck,” and “that also gives them access to your driver’s habits... Safety is important and it does pay.”

Next up was Lindsay Tanner with Kiddie Fire Systems, on equipment fire protection systems, concentrating on the newer “liquid/wet chemical” performance in fire protection, and in use on some of their systems. He explained this system detects the file, controls the system, using time delays and engine shutdown, and, “...the agent discharge is strategically placed. The liquid cleans up very easily with just water, and is a very ‘green’ product.”

The last presentation came from Komatsu Forest’s Rod Hunter, and Frank Chandler, Jr. (C&C Logging, Kelso, WA), on Komatsu’s GPS mapping system. Hunter covered the technical aspects of the system, while Chandler spoke on his company’s experience with this system in their company. “With GPS,” Chandler said, your operators “...know where they’re at with the GPS. There’s no guessing. Map reading is not always good” he noted in that reference points are not always clear, whereas, “GPS pinpoints your position,” saving time, avoiding errors and downtime, and knowing where you’re at.

Many, if not most, forest landowners have electronic maps that, “...can be downloaded onto your GPS device, even onto some smart phones,” in that accuracy is in everyones interest. “All the operator’s we’ve started with this were resistant,” Chandler was quick to add. “But when they got used to it were far more productive.”

There were a number of other classes and panels throughout the conference as well, from individual state Forest Practice Acts seminars, to other technical sessions, all with credits to keep loggers current with their professional logging certification.

Attendance and participation in this year’s conference was up and the weather was a bit more cooperative than in many years. What was notable to most of the vendors was the more positive overall attitude, and sales at the show, another indication that the business climate is on the upswing. 

by Mike Crouse