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.

Forestry Friday … Protecting a King Sized Salvage Job!

The King Fire devastated almost 98,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada, east of Sacramento. Our company lost 18,000 acres of forest. Lately, I’ve had opportunity to spend time in the burn area. There is a lot of work being done by our foresters, biologists, botanists, and others to protect the resources so the timber can be quickly salvaged in an environmentally sensible manner. Most people never get to see what is done to protect the soil, water, cultural resources, and wildlife. In the gallery are images of just some of the work being done.

There is a lot of preparation that has to be done prior to logging. It has taken a large team of resource professionals to get the job done on a project this size.

Just for children a picture book about wildfire and the forest rehabilitation that takes place after a fire. Check out, Firestorm In the Forest.

The Art Challenge, Day Three … Old Time Logging

It’s day three! I was tagged to do the 3 pieces of art a day for 5 days, Art Challenge, by Mark Mitchell. The theme for today is “Old Time Logging.”  I threw in a bonus picture that you may recognize from my banner. It was used for a book cover, but it makes a good banner too.

I would love to see Annerose Georgeson do the Art Challenge. I picked Annerose because of her wonderful impressionistic paintings of nature and forestry subjects. It seems like a good match to me.

Prints are available at Fine Art America.

Steam Donkey WIP and The Last Submission

steam donkey, wip, logging

One Step Closer. The forest is coming along.

This is the painting I donated two years ago.

Watercolor, watercolour, logging, historic, crosscut saw, misery whip, auction, art

The Misery Whip.

This was posted at:

Prints available at Fine Art America

Forestry Friday … A Trip To The Woods and More Steam Donkey WIP

Steam donkey, wip, watercolor, watercolour, mixed media, pen and ink

The color is going on and the background is developing. Time to grow a forest. I’m well into the awkward phase and the quality of the photo isn’t very good.

It was a perfect day in the woods. I was visiting a more modern logging crew.

log truck, loader, logging, processor

Loading the truck and filling out the load receipt.

What do you think the steam donkey crew would have said about this equipment.


A dozer skidding in a log turn.

I get to go to places like this when I’m at work.

Lassen Park

Looking north toward Lassen Park.

Nothing like a little inspiration on the way home to prepare for painting.

Sunset over the Sacramento River.

Sunset over the Sacramento River.

Forestry Friday … From The Woods

Today I’m coming to you from the Trinitys. I happen to have a cell signal so I’m making this post with my iPhone. Many of you may know that we are in a severe drought here in California. You can see by the dust coming off this logging operation how dry things are. Our logging crews are suffering with the dry conditions and the dust. Full fire precautions are in effect. Fire season has been pretty brutal this summer. We’re crossing fingers and hoping for the best for the rest of the logging season.

photo (4)
Dust is flying, hazy smoke is in the air and Trinity Lake, in the background behind the lower left trees, is down to about 30% capacity. It’s dry dry dry out there.

Forestry Friday … Big Stumps Talkin’


A managed redwood forest.

Last week, I was in the redwood country of our coastal mountains. However, I wasn’t down in the parks with the gigantic and ancient trees. As you might imagine, I was in young, working redwood forests.

foxglove, wildflowers

Wild Foxglove

It’s beautiful country and full of surprises. One of the surprises you’ll find in these forests are the old stumps of the ancient forest giants that were logged over a hundred years ago.

stump, redwood, spring board

A giant redwood stump.

These old stumps tell a story of the past. The stump pictured above looks like it has two eyes. The “eye” on the left is a spring-board hole. Way back when, the timber fallers would cut a notch in the tree up above the butt swell. They then wedged a board into the notch. They stood on the board, called a spring-board, to cut the tree down. Two man teams with double bit axes and cross-cut saws fell these trees. The spring boards elevated the fallers up the tree where it wasn’t as thick, making it easier to cut. That’s why these stumps are so tall.

Many of these stumps are charred on the outside. The fires that caused this may have been intentional. It was a common practice of the time, to burn the logging site after the trees were felled. They did this to eliminate slash. After the big trees were cut the slash was so deep it was difficult for a man to get through it. The fire solved this problem and left burned stumps behind.

This redwood stump is fifteen feet across.

This redwood stump is fifteen feet across.

spring board

A spring board hole cut into the stump.

Looking west from the Coast Range toward Humboldt Bay and the Pacific.

Looking west from the Coast Range toward Humboldt Bay and the Pacific.

I did a watercolor of a logger bucking a log with a cross-cut saw, which is showing in my post Misery Whip – The Final. Timber fallers on spring-board would be a good subject for an illustration. I might have to work on that.  Happy Friday.


Forestry Friday … The Guardian

Every now and then, I come across a special tree. One that was left unharvested because it so inspired people. The landowners left this tree when they logged the property. The ones that owned it next also left it, and so it goes. This tree is 7′ 3″ in diameter at breast height (DBH). The largest Ponderosa pine on record today is 9′ 2″. The Guardian isn’t the biggest, but it’s a big BIG tree.

Ponderosa Pine, Forest Giant

The sign reads, “The Guardian     Borne ?     Age ?     May You Live Forever”

That’s a nice sentiment, but it won’t happen. Trees, like people, have a limited lifespan and Ponderosa pines if left to grow their natural lives rarely survive to 500 years. However, one Ponderosa was measured at 933 years. Like the sign says, “Age ?” for The Guardian.

Forestry, Ponderosa pine, forest giant

What brainiacs decided it was a good idea to graffiti this tree with chainsaws? Ponderosa pine has flaky bark that sheds off. If they would leave it alone for a couple of decades, most of the carving would disappear.

It’s always a Kodak moment when I come across one of these forest giants. Some that I’ve seen included an 8′ plus sugar pine near McCloud, the 8′ “Mother Viola” sugar pine near Viola (now deceased from a huge wind storm), a 7′ western white pine near LaPorte and a 10′ Douglas-fir near Quincy, all in California.

Ponderosa Pine

I parked close to the tree as a size reference. Many of the young trees below are it’s offspring.

If your are interested in the biggest trees in the United States, you can check out the Big Tree Registry.

Golden Retriever

Meet Skidder, no he’s not my dog. He belongs to the logging crew I was visiting. Yes, I gave him back, after a ride in my truck.


Forestry Friday … Can You Read Tree?

Have you ever read a tree? Trees write stories for us to read, if you know how. They write their stories with tree rings. Trees grow a new ring each year. There have been many papers written on how tree rings from old trees show us climate cycles during the life of a tree. This type of study is called Dendroclimatology.

The tricky part of determining climate history from tree rings is that climate is only one variable that affects tree growth. Using tree rings to examine climate is best done with very old trees. Knowing what the forest was like around the tree as it grew, is also important. Corroboration with other old trees in the area is essential. In the early years of a tree’s life, it is often influenced much more by local factors other than climate.

forestry, tree ringsAbove is a cross-section of a 50-year old Ponderosa pine tree. Let’s read it. This tree doesn’t tell us about climate, it tells us about it’s neighborhood. The numbers represent the age of the tree at that particular point.

0 years –               In the beginning, was the seedling. The tree seeded into an opening in the forest. Perhaps, the opening was a result of past timber harvesting or fire.

5 years –               The rings were wide and the tree was growing fast. At this time, the rings began to get smaller because the young tree was starting to compete with the neighboring saplings.

20 years –             The tree continued to grow at a slower rate, but the competition with the neighboring trees was really beginning to slow it’s growth. The foliage (crowns) of the trees grew together as the trees bumped into each other.

31 years –             The timber stand was very dense as the trees grew together. The lower limbs died since little sunlight reached them. With fewer limbs and foliage, the tree made less energy. The tree was growing very slowly.

38 years –             Something changed in the neighborhood, because this tree started growing a little faster. The timber stand may have been thinned in a logging operation, or some neighboring trees may have died from insect attack. Something reduced the number of neighboring trees. With fewer trees around it, our tree had less competition. It received a greater share of sunlight, water, and nutrients.

42 years –             After a  few years with less competition, the crown grew into a bigger, better, energy making factory. Upon recovering from heavy competition, the tree had the capability to grow faster.

50 years –             The tree was harvested.

Now that you have seen it done, can you read a tree? Put on your detective hat and give it a try.