Associated Oregon Loggers, Inc.
2015 Madrona Avenue, Salem, OR
Technology Improvement in Logging

Contents:

Sophisticated Operations
Mechanized Equipment Features
Purpose-Built Heavy Equipment
Forest Operation Methods—Logging
Forest Operation Methods—Roads
Forest Operation Methods—Forestry
Forestry Instruments

Since 1990, advances in Oregon forest operations technology over the last 20+ years have changed logging and forest management techniques at a lightning fast pace. Continuous improvement in forest engineering and operations helps meet America’s demand for forest products, while complying with ever-improving ecological demands. Technology has been a key to better care for the forest environment, as well as improved safety, productivity, growth, and fiber utilization.

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 Sophisticated Operations

The operational sophistication of today’s modern forest mechanization, harvesting, and management methods is a surprise to most people! Improved technology in Oregon forest operations yields:

  • Healthier environment
  • Improved safety
  • Higher productivity
  • Greater fiber utilization
  • Increased timber growth
  • Superior resource sustainability
  • Advanced forest protection
  • Better future for forestry careers

In the last two decades, much has changed for the better in Oregon’s forests. Recent innovations in logging methods combine with forest science to improve techniques for forest operations, including: low-impact harvesting, reducing fire risk, keeping forests looking healthy, well-designed road access, protecting streams, and enhancing wildlife habitat.

The latest technology makes sustainable forestry and ecosystem management possible during harvesting, roading, transportation, and the full life-cycle of a forest. The growing and harvesting of trees is an effective tool to sustain desired forest resources over time—timber, water, wildlife, fish, recreation and aesthetics—that’s sustainable forest management!

The sophisticated machinery in the forest today has surprising capabilities. Modern logging equipment can now process an entire tree into log lengths in one motion, thereby saving time, improving safety, and reducing impacts on the environment. Computer systems are integrated into forest machinery, producing optimized performance, less energy use, a cleaner environment and greater wood utilization. Today’s machines are purpose-built to be more efficient, safer, cleaner running, and have lower site impacts.

Much of this innovation in forest operations results from machinery engineers working in tandem with skilled loggers, who apply their extensive on-the-ground experience to continually improve the machines, methods and mechanization.

While all the machinery innovations are amazing, forestry operations have also improved through the many methods applied to manage trees, forests, and natural resources. Continuous improvement in forest operational methods has advanced the many success stories in forest roads, forestry and logging.

Take a look below at the many recent innovations in forest operations—just in the last 20 years!

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Mechanized Equipment Features

The sophisticated machinery in the forest today has surprising capabilities—many advantages developed or improved just in the last two decades. Mechanization has improved worker safety, enhanced environmental protection, and grown production performance.

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Processor Head. Fully-mechanized “processor” assembly, mounted on boom of a purpose-built forestry machine. The “dangle-head” processor measures, “bucks” and delimbs trees into optimum log products, as the operator controls are assisted by computer optimizing programs. Reduces waste and worker use of chainsaw; improves quality, production, safety and environmental protection.

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Hot Saw. A boom-mounted tree cutting head, which quickly cuts trees from the stump without damaging the wood. High-speed circular saw blade (shown at bottom of red “head”), cuts tree stumps up to 30 inches in diameter. Reduces waste and worker use of chainsaws; improves quality, production, safety and environmental protection.

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Self-Leveling Machine. Undercarriage tracks with the terrain slope, while machine body remains balanced & level. Reduces waste and worker use of chainsaws; improves quality, production, safety and environmental protection.

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Off-Road, Hi-Track Log “Shovel”. High-clearance undercarriage, tracked log loading machine, which is well-balanced and can reach far to move logs and whole trees. Reduces workers needed to set chokers on logs; improves quality, production, safety and environmental protection.

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Low Ground Pressure Undercarriages. Advanced mechanical engineering in today’s purpose-built forestry equipment is lighter, the weight is evenly distributed over a larger footprint, wide gripping wheels or wide tracks yield low pressure, purpose-built suspensions balance machine weight, and electronic drive-systems improve power control & traction—all which combine reduce the forestry machine ground disturbance, and improve performance, production and safety.

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Cab Rollover Protection. Engineered crush-proof operator cab protects operator safety in case of accidental machine tip-over.

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Mobile Spar Tower. Large track-mounted skyline yarders and telescoping steel spar tower, which can be readily collapsed and un-rigged, for single-load highway transport on a “low boy” semi-trailer—enhancing performance, safety, thereby reducing labor, cost and downtime.

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Electronic Control. Electro-mechanical sensors, measuring devices, and operator controls, which report to on-board computers that direct mechanical or hydraulic performance of a machine, or machine mechanism—enhancing performance, safety, environmental protection, and reducing labor.

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Multi-Process Electronics. Operator cab controls that perform multi-tasking of numerous machine functions through joy sticks, toggles, touch screens, monitors, switches, levers, pedals, and more—enhancing performance, production, environmental protection, and safety.

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Joy Stick Controls. Primary machine functions and movements are often controlled by one or two joysticks. The operator seat and control station is within the heavy equipment cab. Controls perform multi-tasking of numerous machine functions—which enhance performance, environmental protection, and safety.

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Ergonomic Operator Cab/Controls. The operator cabs in forestry heavy equipment are now designed for comfort, efficiency, and function. Operator cabs reduce long-term physical and mental wear & tear on the operator. Improved ergonomic features include: seating; controls; work visibility, range-of-motion, positioning, and climate control. These improved features enhance operator health, safety, environmental protection, and performance.

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Computer-Optimized Log Cutting. Fully-mechanized “bucking” trees into optimum log products by operator controls assisted by on-board computer optimizing programs and electronic control. Reduces waste and worker use of chainsaws; improves quality, production, safety and environmental protection.

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Computer-Performance Data Records. The advent of on-board computers and wireless communications in purpose-built forestry machines facilitates beneficial capabilities that improve decision-making, performance and safety. Advances include production data recording, data downloads, machine performance data, locational devices, and wireless data transfer. Reduces waste and downtime; improves work planning, quality, production, safety and environmental protection.

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Hydrostatic/Hydraulic Power. Continually upgraded hydraulic power technology in forestry machines produces, optimum performance. Machine function control by the operator is transformed into precise hydraulic power & movement for optimum machine performance; increases real-time and simultaneous integration of multiple powered functions. The diesel engine primarily powers hydraulic and electrical systems—enhancing performance, safety, environmental protection, and reducing labor.

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Improved Diesel Power. Continually upgraded diesel power technology in forestry machines and trucks produces, optimum performance, fuel conservation, lighter power, reduced emissions, greater safety, and easier maintenance—enhancing performance, environmental protection, and reducing labor.

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Low-Maintenance Engineering. Improved designs and maintenance regimens that reduce downtime and malfunctions, while increasing production & safety.

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Diagnostic Electronics. On-board electronic monitoring of the machine’s mechanical performance assists with timely equipment maintenance, trouble-shooting problems, diagnosing needed repairs, and reducing downtime.

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Reduced Diesel Emissions. Advanced diesel engineering in today’s heavy equipment reduces exhaust emissions, improves fuel economy, and boosts environmental protection.

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Synthetic Rope. The advent of light-weight, strong poly rope for industrial applications, is in some instances replacing the heavier cable “wire rope” commonly used in logging. At a fraction of the weight, synthetic rope is useful for remote rigging situations, log truck wrappers, cable anchor straps, tree climbing, and lift-tree rigging. This improves worker safety, health and productivity, while reducing fatigue and injury.

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Electronic Chokers. This purpose-built device allows for the remote radio-controlled mechanical release of logs from their cable binders, called “chokers.” After the chocker is manually connected to the log, once the log reaches the roadside landing, the choker is electronically released—improving safety and reducing labor.

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Radio-controlled, remote mechanical operation. Improved industrial radio-control electronics include an array of purpose-built signaling devices for remote operation of mechanical forestry machines and applications, including: skyline carriage control; radio air whistle “tooter”; electronic choker release; grapple-carriage remote camera control; lateral log slackpulling; helicopter long-line release, and remote firing for rock blasting for road building & quarries. The radio whistle used in cable logging signals audio “toots,” which alert all personnel of cable movements. Shown above, the worker with red suspenders controls operation of the cable-suspended carriage that is lifting the logs. Remote control of up to eight functions enhances performance, safety, environmental protection, and reduces labor.

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Wireless Communications. The advent of wireless communication technology in the last two decades has benefitted forest operations, just as it has transformed all business and society. Industrial wireless applications purpose-built for forestry have advanced in recent years, including: global positioning systems (GPS), satellite GPS messenger, locational devices, satellite phones, cellular phones, wireless data transfer, wireless data transfer of machine performance, internet connection, durable two-way portable radios, and even the citizen’s band radio (CB) is still used for forestry communication. Advances in wireless communication have improved forest operation safety, production, timeliness, environmental protection, and performance.

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Purpose-Built Heavy Equipment

Many modern logging and forestry machines are specifically designed and built for the unique demands of forest operations—even those conditions found in Oregon forests. Many of the machines used to manage Oregon forests are built in Oregon as well (all three North American major cable logging carriage manufacturers are located in Oregon). We say, forest heavy equipment is “purpose-built,” because today’s machine designs are based on decades of harvesting/forestry experience and engineering. Purpose-built forestry machines improve worker safety, enhance environmental protection, and elevate performance. Take a look at 15 machines that were developed and perfected since 1990.

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Feller-Buncher. This purpose-built forestry machine is designed to operate off-road, where it works in a harvest area to skillfully hold & cut a tree, then lift-and-lay each tree in a desired location with a couple other trees, called a “bunch.” The machine has a high-clearance tracked undercarriage and a long boom, which enhances performance, environmental protection, and safety. Reduces workers using chainsaws needed to fall trees.

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Processor. This purpose-built forestry machine is designed to operate at the roadside log landing or nearby off-road, in cutting logs from whole trees with a dangle-head processor on a loader boom. The processor skillfully delimbs and “bucks” the whole trees into desired log lengths. An on-board computer and electronic controls optimize log products cut. The machine works in in a variety of harvest applications; it has a high-clearance tracked undercarriage and a long boom, which enhances performance, environmental protection, and safety. Reduces workers using chainsaws needed to buck & delimb trees.

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Stroke Delimber. This purpose-built forestry machine is designed to operate at the roadside log landing or nearby off-road, in cutting logs from whole trees with a horizontal stroking tube. The processor skillfully delimbs and “bucks” the whole trees into desired log lengths. An on-board computer and electronic controls optimize log products cut. The machine works on the landing or in harvest applications where ample operating space is available; it has a high-clearance tracked undercarriage and a stroking head, which enhances performance, environmental protection, and safety. Reduces workers using chainsaws needed to buck & delimb trees.

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Shovel Logger. This log loader is designed to operate off-road, where it works in a harvest area to lift-and-swing logs from side-to-side, in a progression that moves logs or whole trees from the stump to the roadside landing. Called “shovel logging,” the machine has a high-clearance tracked undercarriage and a long heel-grapple boom, which enhances performance, environmental protection, and improves safety. Reduces workers needed to set chokers on logs.

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Slackpulling Motorized Carriage. As part of the skyline cable logging system, this purpose-built motorized machine rides on suspended cables into the harvest area to retrieve logs and lift them to the roadside log landing. The slackpulling carriage comes in many sizes, and has a hydraulic-powered device that pulls cable in & out of the carriage, allowing the logging crew to reach far sideways to connect onto logs. The “carriage” machine functions are fully radio-controlled by logging workers using hand-held radio “bugs.” This innovation has streamlined skyline logging to enhance performance, safety, environmental protection, and reduce labor.

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Drum Motorized Carriage. As part of the skyline cable logging system, this purpose-built motorized machine (shown in red) rides on suspended cables into the harvest area to retrieve logs and lift them to the roadside log landing. The drum carriage comes in many sizes, and has cable-spooling drum that pulls cable in & out of the carriage, allowing the logging crew to reach far sideways to connect onto logs. The “carriage” machine functions are fully radio-controlled by logging workers using hand-held radio “bugs.” This innovation has streamlined skyline logging to enhance performance, safety, environmental protection, and reduce labor.

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Grapple Carriage. As part of the skyline cable logging system, this purpose-built machine rides on suspended cables into the harvest area to retrieve logs and lift them to the roadside log landing. The grapple carriage comes in two sizes, has a log-grabbing grapple powered by an accumulator, and monitored by an on-board ag-cam camera. The “carriage” machine functions are fully radio-controlled by the yarder operator who views the carriage camera monitor and uses a controller. This innovation has streamlined skyline logging to enhance performance, safety, environmental protection, and reduce labor.

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Harvester-Processor. This purpose-built forestry machine is designed to operate off-road, where it skillfully holds & cuts a tree, lifts-and-lays each tree in a desired location, then delimbs and “bucks” the tree into desired log lengths. An on-board computer and electronic controls optimize log products cut. The machine works in thinning immature forests, has a high-clearance wheeled or tracked undercarriage and a long boom, which enhances performance, environmental protection, and safety. Reduces workers using chainsaws needed to fall, buck, and delimb trees.

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Forwarder. This purpose-built forestry machine operates off-road, where it moves through a harvested area to pick-up logs typically cut by a harvester-processor, and then carries the logs on a rear bunk to unload at the roadside log landing. An on-board log heel-grapple and boom is used to load & unload logs—loading grapple may also load log trucks. The machine works in thinning immature forests, has a high-clearance wheeled undercarriage, which enhances performance, environmental protection, and safety. Reduces workers needed to set chokers on logs.

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Log Loader Attachment, Yarder. This purpose built attachment readily converts a log loader “shovel” into a small “yarder” machine, for skyline cable logging. A small-log, tracked cable lifter with a boom; this mobile short-distance machine’s cable is rigged from the boom to the harvest area below the road; a carriage rides the cable and connects to logs using additional cables; logs or small trees are lifted and carried on slopes uphill from the stump to the roadside landing area. Several attachment configurations possible: “yoader” yarder with carriage; “jammer” yarder highlead, or “speeder” tong thrower. The attachment affords dual application versatility from a single machine; this log yarding machine is well-suited for reaching logs short distances on slopes below a road, which enhances performance, safety, and environmental protection. Reduces need for mobilizing a larger yarder for small harvest areas or low timber volumes.

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Truck/Trailer-Mount Yarder. This purpose-built small economical “yarder” machine may be configured as a trailer or mounted on a heavy truck (a small version mounts on rear of a farm tractor). This skyline cable logging machine is a small-log mover; cable is rigged from the short tower (20-40’ tall) to the far side of the harvest area; a carriage rides the cable and connects to logs using additional cables; logs or small trees are lifted and carried on slopes from the stump to the roadside landing area; suitable for thinning. This log yarding machine is well-suited for reaching small logs moderate distances on slopes; machine enhances performance, safety, and environmental protection. An economical cable yarder that reduces need to mobilize a larger yarder for small harvest areas and thinning low timber volumes.

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Hi-Track Skidder. Re-designed track system purpose-built to improve traction in forest conditions, thereby reducing ground disturbance and increasing performance. As shown, equipped with a lift arch grapple to grab & pull logs with the leading end suspended off the ground. Skidder also made in a wheeled version. This high-clearance undercarriage, tracked log skidding machine is well-balanced to move logs and whole trees; enhances performance, environmental protection, and improves safety. Reduces workers needed to set chokers on logs.

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Track Hoe. Tracked road builder, equipped with a special clam-shell dig bucket that is customized to excavate and build forest roads. The rotating clam-shell is mounted on a digging boom to dig-lift-load dirt, stumps, debris and rock during forest road construction and reconstruction. This machine improves quality, production, environmental protection, and performance.

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Hydro-Seeder Trailer. Trailer equipped with a hydro-seed machine. Machine includes a water tank, and hoppers for grass seed and mulch, mixer, pump and spray hose; trailer pulled by a heavy truck. Used to spray grass seed & mulch mixture that re-vegetates forest roadsides, ditches and landings for erosion control. This machine reduces soil erosion and road runoff, while better protecting the environment.

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Pressure Washer Trailer. Trailer equipped with a slip-on pressure washer and tank. Unit mounted either on a utility truck or trailer; includes a water tank, pump, and spray hose; trailer pulled by a heavy truck. Used to spray-clean heavy equipment that removes debris, soil and weed seeds to prevent invasive seed transport. Use of pressure washer to clean heavy equipment reduces movement of unwanted or invasive plant seeds, while better protecting the environment.

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Forest Operation Methods—Logging

Continuous technology improvement in forest logging operation methods has improved safety, productivity, environmental protection, and fiber utilization.

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Whole-Tree Harvesting. This efficient logging system moves the entire tree from the stump to the roadside landing. It is applies to either ground-based, skyline cable, or helicopter logging. When used in ground applications, a “feller-buncher” cuts and creates piles of trees readied for either a grapple skidder or a shovel to pull the tree bunches to the roadside. When used in skyline cable or helicopter applications, the cut & felled trees are attached to suspended cables overhead using chokers, and then the tree is lifted and aerially moved to the roadside. Whole trees are delimbed and bucked into logs at the roadside log landing by a “processor” or “stroke delimber.” This system became common in the late 1990s, when second- and third-growth harvests prevailed. It’s applicable for use on all terrain, gentle ground or slopes, and where tree size is not large.

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Cut-To-Length Harvesting. This thinning ground-based logging system utilizes just two machines and two operators to harvest, skid and load logs. The “harvester-processor” machine cuts, delimbs, bucks trees into logs, and sorts the logs into piles alongside the trail. The “forwarder” machine then follows to pick up the logs, carry them on its rear bunk to the roadside log landing, and load them onto a log truck. Originated in Europe, but perfected in Oregon during the 1990s, this method is suited to thinning immature forests on gentle to moderate slopes.

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Cable Thin Harvesting. This thinning skyline-based logging system utilizes a small mobile skyline yarder, motorized carriage, and specialized rigging techniques to harvest and yard logs in a partial cut situation that retains a thrifty forest post-harvest. The use of purpose-built small cable systems—makes it possible to commercially-thin immature forests located on slopes too steep for ground-based harvesting machines to operate. The cut-trees must be skillfully threaded through the leave-trees without damaging the uncut trees. For some situations, thinning improves forest value growth while offering different environmental benefits.

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Shovel Logging. This effective ground-based logging system utilizes an off-road tracked log loader machine (called a “shovel”) to move logs, or whole trees, from the stump to the roadside landing. The “shovel” log loader works in a harvest area to lift-and-swing logs/trees from side-to-side, in a progression that moves logs/trees from the stump to the roadside landing. Called “shovel logging,” the machine has a high-clearance tracked undercarriage and a long heel-grapple boom. Becoming more common in the 1990s, this method is suited to regeneration harvests on gentle to moderate slopes, where timber volume is sufficient and distances are not great.

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Helicopter Logging. This high-cost logging system utilizes a utility-size or larger heavy-lift helicopter to aerially-lift logs, or whole trees, from the stump to the roadside landing drop-site. The helicopter flies the logs/trees far off the ground, while suspended from a longline cable. In use prior to the 1990s, this method and its techniques have since been improved for specialized logging applications. Helicopter logging is best suited to regeneration harvests—possibly in partial harvests—within 1.5 mile of the landing, where tree value, volume, and resource values are sufficient to warrant the expense.

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Biomass Recovery, In-Woods. Innovation of mobile whole-tree biomass processing plants makes it possible in-the-forest to produce ground-up waste woody “biomass”—a product burned at a biomass plant to produce electricity. A mobile grinder or chipper machine grinds the whole-trees, to produce a waste wood product called “hog fuel,” which is conveyed into a waiting semi-truck trailer van. This system became possible in the late 1990s, when electricity & natural gas values increased, and when surplus small trees overcrowded many forests. It’s applicable for in-woods use where sufficient concentration of low-value logs/trees and large landing size is available. More commonly, biomass logs are trucked to a chip plant that’s centrally-located at an industrial log yard, rather than at many remote in-woods locations.

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Chip-Log Recovery, In-Woods. Innovation of mobile whole-tree biomass processing plants makes it possible in-the-forest to produce quality wood chips for pulp& paper-making. A mobile debarker machine cleans the logs, prior to a second whole-log chipper machine that produces wood chips that are blown into a waiting semi-truck trailer van. The waste bark and sawdust (called “hog fuel”) are loaded into a second semi-trailer van. This system became possible in the late 1990s, when chip value increased. It’s applicable for in-woods use where sufficient concentration of low-value logs and large landing size is available. More commonly, chip logs are trucked to a chip plant that’s centrally-located at an industrial log yard, rather than at many remote in-woods locations.

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Log Suspension. Lifting logs during their movement from the stump to the roadside landing has become more common in today’s logging. Log suspension during inhaul typically involves lifting the leading end of each log off the ground during both ground skidding and cable yarding—thereby reducing ground disturbance, protecting the environment, and increasing safety & production. Often during cable yarding, and always during helicopter yarding, the entire log is completely lifted clear of the ground during a majority of its movement toward the road.

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Low Soil Disturbance. Although some soil exposure and disturbance is common during harvesting—mostly at roadside log landings, roadsides and skidtrails—contemporary logging practices and Oregon forest regulations work to minimize such disturbance and to strategically locate & time the exposure to prevent unnecessary soil erosion, soil compaction and runoff. A priority during every operation is to maintain soil productivity and prevent muddy water delivery to streams, wetlands and lakes from the operations.

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Near-Water Operations. Modern forest protection laws and forest management practices customarily restrict machinery operations near streams, wetlands and lakes. Since 1994, Oregon improved water protection rules assure high compliance with specific standards that: limit machine operation near water; prescribe set-back distances; prevent sediment delivery; provide tree buffers; retain understory vegetation; and contribute habitat diversity.

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Temporary Crossings. Crossing of streams is minimized during harvest operations by skidding or temporary roads; and when a crossing is necessary, then special stream protection standards are applied to plan, schedule, install, use, maintain and remove those crossing structures. Preventing sediment delivery to streams is always a key objective for operations near water.

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Oregon Plan Watershed Voluntary Measures--Logging. Since 1998, Oregon’s forest industry has been the state’s leading sector in contributing voluntary stream habitat enhancements, as a participant in the Oregon Plan for Salmon & Watersheds. During harvesting, many forest landowners and operators cooperate with state fish & wildlife biologists to voluntarily design & implement extra stream enhancements, beyond those require by the rules, such as: large wood placement in fish streams; extra leave trees near water; snag retention or creation; stream alcove addition; and wetland retention islands.

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Fire Prevention. Every summer, as forest conditions dry and potential for wildfire ignition increases, every operation implements special logging practices and Oregon forest regulations aimed to prevent unwanted forest fires, as well as preparedness to attack and extinguish any fire start. In the past two decades, Oregon industrial operations have had exceptional success in reducing operation fires (most Oregon forest fires caused by recreationists and lightning). While prescribed fire use and burning has its place in modern forest management, unwanted wildfires are aggressively prevented on forest operations.

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Prescribed Fire. Managed fire, called “prescribed fire,” is a tool that is carefully utilized under well-planned and strategically timed forest operations—and is often associated with logging and reforestation projects. Burning of excess forest fuels is carried-out by forest professionals during the wetter seasons when fire escape can be achieved—whether created by harvesting “slash” limbs & tree tops, or naturally-accumulated by forest growth & mortality. In the past two decades, Oregon forest operations have had exceptional success in conducting controlled prescribed burning to meet forestry objectives. Prescribed fire use and burning has its place in modern forest management, for a number of objectives, including: preparing forest sites for successful tree reforestation; reducing unwanted fuel/fire hazards; preventing future destructive wildfires; removing excess woody fuels and harvest slash; and controlling unwanted pests, disease, or invasive species.

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Spill Prevention. Oregon forest regulations require forest operators to take appropriate clean-up actions when their operations have accidental release of petroleum products, chemicals or hazardous materials. It is common practice in forest operations to plan and take precautions that minimize the incidence, size, and impact of such accidental discharges. In recent years, spill prevention and response planning has become effective at minimizing and containing spills on forest operations.

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Invasive Species Prevention. In recent years, forest landowners have become concerned about problem invasive brush and noxious weeds. Invasive, or non-native, plants increasingly impact reforestation, forest growth, native vegetation, and forage; and forest managers now include invasive plant prevention in project plans. Forest operations often implement invasive spread control efforts during operations, including: control plans; equipment inspection and cleaning debris/seeds before machinery is transported; herbicide control; and equipment pressure washing.

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Pro-Logger Certification. The Oregon Professional Logger program (OPL) is a voluntary professional standard that certifies harvest-related companies for their continuing education in forest practices, safety, business and sustainable forestry. OPL is the ‘Certified Logging Professional’ training program recognized by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative(SFI) in Oregon. The OPL is a professional standard, designed by loggers for loggers.

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Logging/Transportation Planning. Because the forest road network is a valuable forestland investment and it provides necessary crucial access for forest management, the planning of roads for logging purposes is a priority for forest landowners. Modern forest logging/transportation planning incorporates the latest in aerial photo imagery, Lidar mapping, GPS locational tools, GIS mapping and data assets, environmental protection, forest road & log engineering and logging systems technology. Before any harvest, forest road plans, locations, designs, and construction assure that each road investment is effective for planned logging systems and harvest patterns.

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Forest Operation Methods—Roads

Continuous technology improvement in forest road construction and maintenance operation methods has improved safety, productivity, environmental protection, and fiber utilization.

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Road Construction Practices. Contemporary forest road construction practices and Oregon forest regulations (post-2000), work together to minimize undesirable soil erosion and water runoff problems—both during construction and in the future during road use and the road’s long-term stability. Within just a couple-few years after a forest road is built, its design features and re-vegetation should yield a sound environmentally-stable road asset. Although some temporary and minor soil exposure and disturbance is common in the year or two during construction—and possibly during periodic road use at harvesting—modern forest road designs are planned to sustain a stable forest road that is very compatible with the forest watershed for the long-term. Modern forest roads and their accompanying drainage systems are designed to perform such that muddy water delivery to streams, wetlands and lakes is prevented.

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Legacy Road Reconstruction. Many existing forest roads in Oregon were built, or last used, prior to the advent of today’s improved road construction practices and Oregon forest regulations (prior to 1990s-2000s). Because every forest road encounters a different situation—unique terrain & geology, local climate & vegetation, a different maintenance & use history, and earlier design features—these older, so-called “legacy roads” typically are evaluated for reconstruction before use again in a harvest operation. Forest road reconstruction affords the opportunity to redesign and retro-fit the old legacy road; rebuilding the road using current standards and practices that would improve the road performance, use capability, and long-term asset value.

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Wet Weather Road Use. Contemporary forest road use practices and Oregon forest regulations (post-2003), work together to minimize undesirable soil erosion and water runoff problems—which could potentially occur during wet weather road use in a harvest operation. Oregon has thorough standards that require operations to prevent muddy water delivery into streams—by performing tactics that direct road runoff onto the forest floor (rather than into a stream).

Although some temporary and minor soil exposure and disturbance is possible on roads and landings during road use at harvesting—modern forest road designs are planned to sustain a stable forest road that is very compatible with the forest watershed for the long-term. Modern forest roads and their accompanying drainage systems are designed to perform such that muddy water delivery to streams, wetlands and lakes is prevented.

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Managed Road Systems. As described above, contemporary forest road practices and Oregon forest regulations (since 2000s), work together to minimize undesirable erosion, water runoff or stability problems—which could potentially occur during construction, road use, or later not in active use. Forest landowners are required to maintain their forest roads, and road drainage systems, in a manner that minimizes unwanted resource impacts.

Modern forest road designs are planned to sustain a stable forest road that is very compatible with the forest watershed for the long-term. When properly maintained or vacated, modern forest roads and their accompanying drainage systems are designed to perform such that muddy water delivery to streams, wetlands and lakes is prevented over the long-term. Because the forest road is such an important asset, landowners will strategically manage their road networks using a variety of tactics that protect the investment and minimize road-related resource damage, including: road closure, gated access, periodic patrol of condition, storm patrol, routine maintenance, vacating road segments, and so forth.

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Oregon Plan Watershed Voluntary Measures--Roads. Since 1998, Oregon’s forest industry has been the state’s leading sector in contributing voluntary stream habitat enhancements, as a participant in the Oregon Plan for Salmon & Watersheds. During road planning and reconstruction, many forest landowners and operators cooperate with state fish & wildlife biologists to voluntarily design & implement extra road drainage and stream crossing enhancements, beyond those require by the rules, such as: early replacement/reconstruction of crossing structures that provide fish passage; construction of a natural bottom culvert or bridge, where a round pipe would suffice; installation of additional road cross-drainage structures; road relocation to stable sites; extra durable rock surfacing near water; rapid re-vegetation and rock rip-rap of cut slopes; extra fill slope armoring.

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Functioning Drainage. One or more road design features that intentionally route and alter road water runoff, away from the road surface and cut slope, to the desired location—typically send runoff toward the forest floor, where the runoff water can slowly filter into the ground. Additionally, drainage features intend to slow and frequently intercept runoff water. Common features include: the road surface crown, in/out-slope surface, durable road surface, cutslope ditch, cross-drains, berm/no berm, grade changes, grade-roll over stream crossing, and sediment traps.

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Disconnected Road Drainage. Purpose: To “disconnect” road ditch from the stream. A road design feature that redirects water runoff, away from the road surface and ditch toward the forest floor, where the runoff water can filter into the ground. Always “disconnect” road ditches from streams! Prior to the 1990s, this feature was not a universal forest road design standard in Oregon. Shown in the figure, two culverts are located uphill from the road stream crossing, and are intended to cross-drain the approaching ditch water onto the forest floor—“disconnecting” the ditch flow from the stream, rather than allowing the ditch water to flow into the stream.

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Drain Runoff into Filter. A road design feature that directs ditch water runoff, if possible toward the forest floor, where the runoff water can filter into the ground. Shown in the picture, the ditch water is directed onto the forest floor—rather than allowing the ditch water to flow into the stream.

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Cross-Drain Runoff into Filter. A road design feature that uses a cross-drain structure to redirect water runoff, from the ditch toward the forest floor, where the runoff water can filter into the ground. Shown in the picture, a culvert cross-drains the ditch water onto the forest floor downhill of the road—rather than allowing the ditch water to accumulate uphill of the road.

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Hard Road Surface. A road design feature that assure that the surface of the road is a “hard” cap that’s able to withstand the planned uses and road conditions. The term “durable surface” specifically refers to a rock aggregate surfacing comprised of hard rock that won’t degrade under use (OR Forest Practices Rules). To support the hard surface under heavy forestry use, modern forest roads are constructed to include road subgrade compaction and other methods. Maintenance blading of a hard road surface is essential prior to heavy use, during use, and after use. In forest operations, a hard road surface is achieved through either: rock aggregate surfacing; dry-season compacted native surfacing; frozen winter surface; shoulder-season compact native surface with strategic use; or paved surface.

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Road Drainage Maintenance. A road use and maintenance provision that requires forest landowners to maintain their forest roads drainage structures in a serviceable condition, in a manner to keep them properly functioning and minimizes unwanted resource impacts. Maintenance may include periodic patrol of condition, culvert cleanout, ditch cleanout, storm patrol, and routine maintenance.

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Reconstruct During Dry Season. A road use and maintenance provision that requires completion of road reconstruction activities near/crossing streams, during the dry season months prescribed by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry, called the “in-stream work period”.

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Road Drainage Mitigation. A road use and maintenance provision that requires during wet weather forest operations, forest operators should perform necessary tactics that direct road water runoff onto the forest floor—rather than delivering muddy water into streams. Tactics may include: dry-season drainage reconstruction, prior seed & mulch, frequent road blading to crown & drain, spot rocking, durable rock surfacing, adding rocked turnouts, reshaping ditches after damage, sediment traps in ditches, emergency cross-drain installation, periodic patrols, truck-haul metering/delays, and extra maintenance.

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Ditch Sediment Traps. A road use and maintenance provision that requires during wet weather forest operation, forest operators should perform necessary tactics that direct road water runoff onto the forest floor—rather than delivering muddy water into streams. Where cross drain flow could potentially reach a stream, additional sediment-trapping tactics may include: straw bales, check dams, catch basins, wattles, rock dams/gabions, fine slash, or erosion control blankets.

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Gated Road Access. A road use and maintenance provision that is becoming more prevalent is the gated closure (or blocked closure) of forest roads in Oregon during critical wet seasons, special habitat periods, or hazardous fire conditions. When properly maintained or limited access during critical months, modern forest roads and their accompanying drainage systems are designed to perform for a smorgasbord of resource benefits. Because the forest road is such an important asset, landowners will strategically manage their road networks using a variety of tactics that protect the investment and minimize road-related resource damage, including road closure and limited access using gates or other structures.

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Full-Bench Road Construction. A road construction design feature that is applied on steep side slopes; nowadays, this method of new road construction builds a more stable forest road that is sustainable for future use and is less likely to experience undesirable runoff or sloughing of soil downhill. The road prism is constructed by cutting and removing the soil/rock (shown below dotted line), called “end haul” because the soil is hauled by truck for construction-use filled in another location. Normal road building on gentle slopes typically uses a balance “cut & fill” method that creates the road prism by a combination of both cutting and filling at the same location. While more costly, “full-bench” method is unlikely to suffer erosion or fill sloughing, because there is no fill material placed on a steep slope.

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Stream Crossing for Fish Passage. A new road construction design feature that requires forest roads, which cross a fish-bearing stream, to be designed and installed to allow fish passage through the crossing structure. Round culverts, squash culverts, counter-sunk culverts, pipe arches, or bridges can achieve this objective.

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Size Culvert for Stream Flow. A new road construction design feature that requires road stream crossing structures to be designed for the calculated “50-year storm event” volume from the upslope drainage area. An engineering computation is necessary, based on local data tables, irrespective of dry summer status.

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Natural Bottom Culverts. A road construction design feature that uses an enhancement that improves fish passage through the crossing structure, for use in a fish-bearing stream. When the culvert is installed, natural stream cobble is seeded into the pipe, to emulate a natural streambed. The pipe must be oversized, to assure that the in-stream condition passes the required 50-year storm event volume. Round culverts, squash culverts, or pipe arches suited for this use.

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Improved Bridges. A road construction design feature that uses an enhancement that improves fish passage through the crossing structure, for use in large and medium size fish-bearing streams. While often more costly, installing a purpose-built forest road bridge has advantages of keeping the natural streambed, exceeds the required 50-year storm volume, passing storm-caused woody debris, and unlikely to fail during major storms.

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PVC Culverts. A road construction design feature that has become inter-changeable with corrugated metal pipe culverts (CMP). PVC culverts are used for the same applications as the CMP pipe, with reported greater PVC longevity.

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Road Geotextile. A road construction design feature that is applied on road segments, on wet soils or where subsoil strength is insufficient to support planned forest road use volumes, weights and season of use. Geotextile placed on a compacted road subgrade, and under the rock surfacing, will add to the road load bearing strength.

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Logging/Transportation Planning. Because the forest road network is a valuable forestland investment and it provides necessary crucial access for forest management, the planning of roads for logging purposes is a priority for forest landowners. Modern forest logging/transportation planning incorporates the latest in aerial photo imagery, Lidar mapping, GPS locational tools, GIS mapping and data assets, environmental protection, forest road & log engineering and logging systems technology. Before any harvest, forest road plans, locations, designs, and construction assure that each road investment is effective for planned logging systems and harvest patterns.

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Forest Operation Methods—Forestry

Continuous technology improvement in forest management & planning operational methods has improved safety, productivity, environmental protection, and fiber utilization.

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Field Data Recording; Electronic Instruments. An improved forest management tool, the advent of micro-computers contained in a durable all-weather unit means forestry data can be readily entered in the field and downloaded later to the office computer. Since the 1990s, handheld field data recorders, and a host of other electronic handheld instruments and radios have been purpose-built for forest applications. These new instruments ease the entry and subsequent analysis of complex forestry measurements.

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Field Data, Mapping & Imagery. An improved forest management technology tool, the application of GPS (global positioning systems) and a variety of field data recording for advanced mapping and electronic data transfer to computer databases. Additionally, mapping and interpretation is enhanced through aerial imagery innovations in Lidar satellite, infrared, and electronic photography.

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS). An improved forest management technology tool, computer technology advancements in database-linked mapping, locational resources, area-length-boundary-slope-attribute computation, and imagery, utilizing the latest in electronic field data collection and GPS locational information.

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Forest Certification. Three significant forest management certification programs have been operating in Oregon over the past two decades: the largest is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative(SFI); the oldest since the 1940s, is the American Tree Farm System (ATFS); and the smallest number of certified acres is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). These forest management certification programs are voluntary land management standards that certify forests and forest products for their sustainable growing, harvesting of wood products. Forest certification standards and program participant forestlands are audited by independent third parties.

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Regeneration Harvest Structural Reserves. An improved forest management technology and regulation, the clearcut regeneration harvest method is nowadays commonly modified to retain a number standing leave-trees within the clearcut harvest areas. These standing leave-trees are called “structural reserves,” because they are reserved/retained from the previous forest, and the leave trees will contribute structural and biological diversity to the future forest that grows in the now-harvested area. Also known as ‘wildlife trees,” the Oregon Forest Practices Rules require clearcuts exceeding 25 acres in size to retain 2 reserve trees per acre standing after harvest. Often these wildlife trees are located along the unit perimeter or next to riparian buffer leave trees.

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Riparian Management Areas (RMA). An improved forest management regulation, the Oregon Forest Practices Rules in 1994 were upgraded to increase the standing tree buffers retained after harvest operations along streams, lakes and wetlands. The Riparian Management Area (RMA) leave trees contribute, shade, future wood in the stream, as well as structural and biological diversity to streamside forests within the harvested areas. Different stand prescriptions for RMA size and retained tree density are defined by 9 stream categories and several geo-regions.

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Rapid Landslide Mitigation. An improved forest management regulation, the Oregon Forest Practices Rules in 2002 were upgraded to add treatment limits to certain steep slopes having high landslide hazard potential, which could potentially initiate a rapidly-moving landslide above homes or heavily used highways. The rule requires special geological assessment, prescription, and mitigations for proposed harvest and road operations within the hazard areas. The landslide rule is a unique aspect added to the Forest Practices Rules to limit risks to public safety.

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Smoke Management Burning. An improved forest management program and regulation, Oregon’s Smoke management program is a nation-leading forest prescribed burning regulatory system, administered by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry. The program permits, forecasts, schedules, and monitors forest fuels burning that’s conducted on private and public forest ownerships—achieving a high degree of smoke dispersal away from protected airsheds, burning of excess forest fuels, preparing sites for reforestation, improving forest health, and reducing future wildfire hazards.

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Prescribed Burning. An improved forest management technology, prescribed burning is conducted throughout Oregon’s forests on private and public forest ownerships. As an important forestry tool, this effective practice increases future forest growth and reduces future wildfires. Excess forest fuels are reduced, sites are prepared for reforestation, and forest health is improved.

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Reforestation Success. An improved forest management regulation, the Oregon Forest Practices Rules in the 1990s were upgraded to ensure reforestation success is achieve when tree planting after a harvest operation. Not only do required numbers of tree seedlings must be planted within two years after harvest—but now the required numbers of tree seedlings must be free-to-grow and well-distributed within six years after harvest. If these thresholds are not achieved, the landowner is required to complete all necessary planting and vegetation control measures to accomplish the required reforestation parameters.

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Tree Seedling Nursery & Tree Seed. An improved forest management technology, methods have enhanced the genetic selection and improvement of tree seed, tree nursery sowing & growing, and seedling lifting and packing by nursery worker. Improved seed handling and nursery growing practices has increased seedling survival rates and establishment vigor—which translates into increased forest growth & yield.

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Tree Seedling Handling. An improved forest management technology, methods have enhanced the care and handling of small tree seedlings from the nursery all the way to the planting spot in the harvested unit. Improved handling and planting practices has increased seedling survival rates and establishment vigor—which translates into increased forest growth & yield.

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Reforestation Release. An improved forest management technology applied after a regeneration harvest, selective control, or “release,” of unwanted competing vegetation with herbicides is a proven method to increase reforestation tree seedling survival, establishment, and growth. Herbicide application is done aerially or by backpack sprayer. Because the effects of the herbicide delays competing vegetation for just a year or two, other native vegetation quickly re-establishes after the delay—thereby returning native biodiversity to the young new forest opening. During the delay period, the tree seedlings are able to get a head-start to growing above the other vegetation.

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Tree Seedling Protection. An improved forest management technology, the variety of improved methods has expanded to protect small tree seedlings, after planting and during their establishment. Tree seedlings are vulnerable to numerous predators and damages, which can be minimized to manage losses by the use of protection measures, including: game repellant, browse tubing, bud capping, rodent trapping & baiting, herbicide spraying of competing vegetation, mulch squares, and others.

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Forest Fertilization. An improved forest management technology, the aerial application of forest fertilizer by helicopter in certain stands of immature trees, which is used to improve tree growth. This application of this technology increases timber value yield, while also benefitting native vegetation, forage and wildlife species.

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Hydro-Seeding. An improved forest management technology, the hydro-seeding truck or trailer machine sprays a grass seed & mulch mixture, which is used to speed re-vegetation of exposed soils on forest roadsides, ditches and landings for erosion control. This application of this technology reduces soil erosion and road runoff, speeds establishment of native grasses and vegetation, while better protecting the environment.

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Native Seed Planting. An improved forest management technology, it is more common to use native grasses to seed forest roadsides, ditches and landings for erosion control. This seeding speeds re-vegetation of exposed soils on new roads and recent harvest landings. Establishment of native grasses where possible protects the environment.

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Remote Access. An improved forest management tool, the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) has been improved in recent years, to greatly improve the safety and ease of remote forest access by workers and their tools—accessing locations where pickup trucks cannot travel.

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Forestry Instruments

Integrated electronic technology has proliferated forestry and the handheld instruments and radios used in forest operations. Industrial forestry has many purpose-built applications that aid forest field operations in an all-weather environment.

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Handheld Field Data Recorder – For input & electronic transfer of field measurement data files

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Handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) – For locational data, area, distance, slope and mapping

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Laser-Digital Rangefinder Hypsometer – For an all-in-one height, diameter, angle, and volume measurement

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Electronic Dendrometer – For measuring tree basal area, diameter, height, volume

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Electronic Clinometer & Compass – For measuring height, slope, direction

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Pocket Electronic Weather Station – For measuring and recording critical weather data

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Digital Field Camera – For remote independent photography for security and data collection

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Digital Soil Moisture Meter – For measuring soil moisture

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Satellite Phones – For communication, in remote areas where no cellular coverage

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Cellular Phones – For wireless communication, where cellular coverage available

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Satellite GPS Messenger – For wireless communicating work check-in, in remote areas where no cell coverage

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Portable Voice Radios; Durable Two-way – For jobsite crew wireless communication, with waterproof durability.

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Industrial Voice Radios; Equipment Two-way – For truck & heavy equipment wireless communication, with new digital and narrowbanding.

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Automatic Construction Level – For road construction

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Rotary Laser Level – For road construction

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Digital Theodolite – For landline surveying

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Wireless Data Transfer Station - For transmitting field data

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Outdoor Data Logger Devices – For recording field data from other stationary instruments

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