Forestry Friday … Remembering Gilbert Murray

Gilbert Murray.

Gilbert Murray

Gil Murray’s life ended twenty years ago today. He was the final victim of the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Gil was a Registered Professional Forester and leader in the California forestry profession.  When I first met him, he was head forester for one of our local competitors. He was later hired to lead the California Forestry Association, a promotion that led to his death. Gil was deeply respected in the forestry community as a man of the highest character. I tip my hat to Gil Murray.

Wild Wednesday … Wiley Coyote?

Wild as in wildlife. Naturally, the coyote comes after the roadrunner.

coyote, watercolor, watercolour, pen and ink, ink drawing, wildlife

Coyote in mixed media. Done with pen and ink, and watercolor.

I enjoy seeing wild coyotes and I see them often. As a dog lover, I’m sympathetic toward them. On the flip side I have no illusions about their predator nature and I keep an eye out for our pets and livestock.


This coyote was just west of the house. She came cruising through and posed very politely.

Ranchers have to protect their livestock because it’s their livelihood. Coyotes have to hunt because it’s their livelihood. It’s a tough reality for coyotes and ranchers alike. All part of the harsh balance of nature.


It’s tough being a coyote.

Forestry Friday … Weather Station

anemometer, wind speed, fire weather

The anemometer measures the wind speed and direction.

California is into the fourth year of drought. Wildfire is on our minds in the natural resources community. Hazardous fire conditions are just around the corner and we are already preparing. The state and federal agencies have a system for predicting high fire hazard conditions, and tracking weather and fuel moisture is at the core of it.

weather station, fire weather, forestry

A portable weather station.

We utilize local weather stations on our timber lands to get pin point fire weather conditions. Our research department installs them. Some of these stations are permanent and some are mobile. The mobile stations, like the one shown above, can be relocated as needed. We put these at active logging sites so we can measure accurate on site fire weather conditions.

fuel moisture stick, fuel moisture, wildfire, fire weather

The fuel moisture stick measures moisture content in forest fuels.

Years ago, we used mechanical anemometers to measure wind speed, and fuel moisture sticks weighed with a scale to measure fuel moisture. During the summer season, measurements were taken on the hour by someone on the logging crew. When conditions became severe enough, operations were shut down for the day.

With today’s technology, we have the ability to monitor conditions continuously and have the data transmitted to our office. Changes in fire conditions can be spotted in real-time and radioed to the logging crews. We can collect much more data with the new weather stations than ever before, and respond to changing condition accordingly.

The Ponderosa Fire is still going strong on Tuesday evening.

The Ponderosa Fire.

The weather stations won’t eliminate wildfire, but they do assist the logging crews in avoiding being the cause.

Shasta Wildlife Rescue Open House 2015


This should be fun!

Originally posted on Sneaking Bliss:

Oh No! Baby-O When a dog frightens mama opossum, Baby-O flings from her mama’s back and begins an exciting adventure.Oh No! Baby-O
When a dog frightens mama opossum, Baby-O flings from her mama’s back and begins an exciting adventure.

Our local wildlife rescue organization, Shasta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (SWRR), holds an Annual Open House and Baby Shower event at Anderson River Park, in Anderson, CA. Educational animals will be on hand and there’ll be activities for children. Tim and I will be there as well.

My first introduction to SWRR was over 20 years ago when a turkey vulture fledgling took up residence in our henhouse. A few years later I discovered a mama opossum roadkill with live babies still in her pouch along our little country road. In each instance, SWRR volunteers gathered the young and cared for them until they were able to make it on their own in the wild.

Shasta Wildlife  Rescue volunteer feeds an orphaned baby opossum. Shasta Wildlife Rescue volunteer feeds an orphaned baby opossum.

A few years back, Karlene Stoker (SWRR volunteer)…

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Forestry Friday … Feller Buncher

logging sports, loggers, chopping, ax

A speed chopping contest between Oregon State University and Shasta College students. Logging sports like this were inspired by how it was once done.

Every time I see a news report where the reporter says loggers “chopped” down trees, I want to bang my head against the coffee table. Loggers haven’t chopped down trees since chainsaws took over the job in the 30’s and 40’s.

chainsaw, logger, logging, faller, falling, felling, bucking, limbing

Using a chainsaw to limb a Ponderosa pine tree.

Chainsaws are still on every logging job, but now they share much of the tree falling duty with the feller bunchers. These machines look more like something from Star Wars. It’s not what most folks would expect on a logging job.

feller buncher, falling, felling, cutting, timber, loggers, logging

The disk on the front of the feller buncher is the saw blade. This type of saw head is called a “hot saw” because it runs constantly.

This machine is working on a fire salvage operation from last years wildfires. They cut trees all day long.

They grab the trees when they cut them. The trees are then stacked up in a "doodle" for the skidders to take to the log landing.

They grab the trees when they cut them. The trees are then stacked up in a “doodle” for the skidders to take to the log landing.

Life is a lot different for the loggers these days. Working in an air-condition cab is a world away for the days of axes and misery whips.

Forestry, mentoring, education

This tree shear is another example of tree cutting technology. Don’t worry, we let her go.