Posted at 11:23 AM on Mar 28, 2013

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Shasta District Fairgrounds Anderson, California

Sunny skies and seasonal temperatures greeted the crowd attending the 64th edition of the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference held at the Shasta District Fairgrounds in Anderson, California. Although smaller in scope from years prior, a reflection of the economics we live in, the enthusiasm and dedication of the board and officers keep the show humming.

Thursday morning’s Conference Kickoff Breakfast opening ceremonies (formerly known as the “Gin Fizz Breakfast”) began promptly at 8 a.m. with emcee Jed Gibson keeping the program on schedule. This year’s conference president was Joe Miller.

Three awards were presented during the ceremonies as well. The John Jarred Award recognized Frank Muse for his years of dedication to his community and our industry.

SCLC’s recognized Mike Albrecht as Logger of the Year who said, “…I value this higher than anything I’ve ever received, and I’m glad to be a part of this industry.”

The Roy Berridge Award recognized the many years of service to the industry to Bill Dennison, former Conference Exec. Director, and ‘84 conference president.

The keynote speaker was Barnie Gyant, Deputy Regional Forester, Region Five of the US Forest Service. It was clear from the beginning Gyant’s presentation was about progress, change and actual achievement in the near future rather than the typical boilerplate of targets, studies and good intentions we’ve heard time and again from the Forest Service. Those in the audience confirmed that what we were hearing is what actually happens when Gyant’s involved.

He set the stage noting, the key issue of infrastructure saying “…in a group this large, we only have a small group under 30. Who are we going to leave it to?”

He explained in a recent meeting, “I asked the group with all the budgets, policies, and handbooks, have we forgotten about the people we’re supposed to serve?”

The harsh reality, said Gyant, “…here’s the deal: without half the people in this room, we can’t manage the national forests. If the infrastructure disappears, that’s the mills, the loggers, equipment dealers,” how long would it take to bring that infrastructure back…Never?

A very different conversation, and shocking revelation from a current government employee indeed.
“Here’s what we can do: I signed up for the job I’m in,” Gyrant said. “I personally knew the job I’m currently in was challenging, the reason I did: I want to try and make a differenc. We keep showing up and we keep trying. I’m not planning on quitting. That’s what it’s going to take.”

His emphasis is based on having all parties come to the realization that we need to work together. “What I say to the environmental folks, ‘… if we don’t manage it: it burns.’ Let’s quit arguing about one tree here and one there… when we do that things burn,” and no one benefits.

“Everywhere there’s infrastructure (remaining), we have to be sure to get fiber to those mills… we have to be smart and strategic where we send our money,” Gyrant said. “IF IT BURNS, we lose habitat, infrastructure, do damage to ground, put sediment into streams, into reservoirs… we’ve got to get out of that loop.”

“Is there a way for us?” he then noted, “I’m challenging us on working together to be preventative and proactive. I think if we do that we can all win. What that means: we need to change our behavior. I’m willing to do that.”

He demands the staff perform to those expectations as well saying, “…what I tell my other staff: When you’re business becomes my business (because nothing is happening), it’s no longer your business. If that doesn’t become your priority then we’re down that discipline road. Eventually I wonder if I need you at all.”

And what we were hearing from those at the breakfast is they’re seeing this in action, with what’s actually occurring on the ground.

“What I really want to do, at the end of it, I want to leave it in better shape than what we found it. We owe that to our kids!”

Time, of course, will tell, but thus far Gyrant is delivering, walking the talk. There were a host of other classes, seminars, and presentation, in addition to the college logging competitions and a good display of current logging equipment at the show as well.
Perhaps the most significant occurance took place on Saturday when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced a pending change in diesel powered logging equipment, with those rules applying only to the San Joaquin Valley Airshed. (See the entire news release on the page 22 of Loggers World Roundup).

CARB logging equipment regs will likely apply only to some counties Associated California Loggers has been working with the California Forestry Association(CFA) for a number of years in negotiating with the California Air Resources Board(CARB) on diesel issues. For over six years, the “California Forestry Association-Associated California Loggers Diesel Working Group” has focused continually on these issues. This Working Group includes ACL member logging companies who have met with CARB officials and taken them on woods tours in 2012 and previous years.

The CFA-ACL Working Group seems to have obtained a “win” for 2013 and beyond. On February 9, 2013 at the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference, Tim Hartigan from the Off-Road Ag/Forestry Diesel Rule staff, announced that the proposed Rule on agriculture and forestry(logging) equipment would apply only to the San Joaquin Valley Airshed(counties of San Joaquin,Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and the Valley portion of Kern County.) He also stated that there were no anticipated performance requirements likely for the forestry equipment within the San Joaquin Airshed but there would be made available incentives to upgrade the equipment. Workshops on the Rule will be announced any day and are likely to be in mid-March 2013. A draft Rule for a 45-day public comment period is likely in late September to the first of November. The final Rule is likely to be approved at the December 2013 Air Resources Board meeting.

In seeking this relief from the proposed logging equipment regulation, ACL logging companies reached out directly to the Air Board staff in a variety of ways. Nine CARB staff members took a small van to the top of the Sierras to visit a Robinson Enterprises job and personally see logging equipment in action far away from population centers. (Past ACL President Ed Walker and Board Members Joe Griggs, Jr. and Lowell Robinson hosted this tour.)

Board Member Robert D’Agostini’s J & R Logging lent its equipment to extensive filming for presentation to CARB so the CARB Chair and the entire staff could see what logging equipment looks like and how it works. Various other companies met personally with CARB staff to describe directly their equipment issues. Mike Anderson and Myles Anderson of Anderson Logging, new ACL President Tim Renner of Diamond “R” Ranch(working through his Assemblyman, Natural Resources Committee Chair Wes Chesbro, on certain issues) , Board Member Mike Albrecht of Sierra Resource Management, and member company John Wheeler Logging were among the participants in this recent effort.

Though logging companies were vitally important to this negotiation, ACL thanks Steve Brink, Vice President of the California Forestry Association, for his expertise and leadership of the CFA-ACL Working Group(and for drafting part of this article). The Working Group will continue to work on getting relief to our industry on diesel rules and will participate in the comment periods on the Rules that lie ahead to make sure things happen as CARB has said they would.

– Assoc. California Loggers