On March 9, the Oregon Department of Forestry will recognize the 2015 Operators of the Year for responsible, innovative, proactive work that protects natural resources. The winners are WyEast Timber Services LLC of Hood River, Giustina Land & Timber Co. of Eugene, Hull-Oakes Lumber Co. of Monroe, and R&R King Logging Inc. of Florence.
To encourage this work, the Board of Forestry annually recognizes people and entities that consistently meet or exceed the Forest Practices Act requirements to: replant forests; harvest responsibly; reduce landslide risks to improve public safety; protect stream buffers; build and maintain roads to protect streams; preserve and protect water quality; and protect and enhance wildlife and fish habitat.
Regional Forest Practices Committees select the Operators of the Year and Merit Award recipients. Acting Private Forests Division Chief Lena Tucker said, “These are the best of the many operators who regularly perform above what the law requires to protect natural resources. We’re pleased to honor this exemplary work.”
WyEast Timber Services earned the Eastern Oregon Area Operator of the Year award for improving two parks, Rock Creek and Punch Bowl Falls. WyEast and Mosier city officials created a strategic plan to help prevent bark beetles from damaging more trees. In Rock Creek Park, WyEast removed specific trees and navigated complex urban issues like powerlines, traffic and hiking trails to meet city goals and create a healthier forest. On the Punch Bowl Falls project, Western Rivers Conservancy hired WyEast to promote forest health by removing damaged and diseased trees and create space for growing larger trees while protecting Hood River’s west and middle forks, which contain protected salmon species. Western Rivers Conservancy then gave the land to the county. Video: https://youtu.be/DIKmF_MQcWU
Giustina Land & Timber and Hull-Oakes Lumber Companies earned the Northwest Oregon Area Operator of the Year award for two stream improvement projects. The Long Tom Watershed Council determined that replacing multiple culverts throughout the South Fork Ferguson basin could open it for fish passage. The companies learned of the opportunity and voluntarily joined efforts to install two larger culverts for improving stream quality and fish passage. Giustina and Hull-Oakes helped open five miles of stream for coastal cutthroat trout to spawn and access cold water habitat. The companies contributed the labor, expertise and equipment to enhance the stream for fish. Video: https://youtu.be/EgTHwqcXNZE.
R&R King Logging earned the Southern Oregon Area Operator of the Year award for protecting the streamside buffer along Little Paradise Creek, a large fish-bearing stream with salmon, steelhead and trout. The creek runs south, bisecting the harvest unit. R&R King needed to move the logs from the creek’s east side to the west for processing. The team used a suspended cable system to move the logs along 1,500- to 4,000-foot spans over the creek to protect its buffer trees. R&R King went above and beyond the Forest Practices Act minimum requirements to better protect natural resources at the expense of lost production. Video: https://youtu.be/Kvi7PuuLn_A
All nominees exceeded the Forest Practices requirements to help improve Oregon’s forests. The committees issued Merit Awards for excellent work to Melcher Logging of Sweet Home and J.M. Browning Logging of Astoria.
The Board of Forestry will present the Operator of the Year Awards at its March 9 meeting. The Associated Oregon Loggers, the Oregon Logging Conference and the Oregon Small Woodland Association will also provide special recognition. In 1971, Oregon enacted the Forest Practices Act, the nation’s model forest management laws which focuses on forest operations and protecting natural resources. Many states followed Oregon’s lead. The Act remains current through updates based on science, facts and values to create a balanced approach to natural resource management.