As it rambles down the mud road on wheels taller than your grandmother, the skidder looks like what the U.S. Marines might deploy if they ever invaded the moon.
Gene Fiske Jr. of J & G Logging backs the skidder up against the edge of the woods, stopping just short of a nearby tree. In a few minutes, torque from the skidder’s engine will drag a freshly chain-sawed tree out of the woods on a steel cable.
This is the hard way to harvest, but Pioneer Forest is betting it will be more profitable over the long run.
The way we manage our timber, we go in every twenty years,” said Jason Green, a forester for Pioneer Forest, which hired the loggers. “We’ve got healthy forests because we manage our forests the way we do.”
The key to Pioneer’s forest management strategy is selecting which trees to cut when. This task, Green admits, is an art as much as it is a science.
-Ben Unglesbee; edited by Emily Garnett