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My Christmas Memory

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When our days come to an end, the dimensions of the hole that we are buried in are remarkably similar. There is not much room for extras, so the real measure of a man is the memories he has accumulated, and those he has created for others. During the Christmas season, a childhood memory that comes back to me year after year goes like this;

On the night before Christmas, the tree was decorated with paper snowflakes and chains, popsicle stick stars and a long string of popcorn with a few cranberries mixed in for color. With my mom’s guidance, a tree full of decorations was an easy accomplishment for five kids.  Coming home from another long day in the woods, my dad didn’t even look at it as he walked through the front door, and without speaking a word, retrieved his Ruger .44 carbine rifle from his bedroom, retraced his steps back to his pickup truck and drove off. The next morning, there were gifts for all of us kids under that tree.

If you are thinking that my dad robbed the Ben Franklin store on Christmas eve, you are so dead wrong that you probably don’t deserve to read the rest of the story. At whatever age I was then, 8, maybe 10, I knew on Christmas morning that someone else was the proud owner of my dad’s only deer rifle, and that he had done what he felt he needed to do in order to make great Christmas memories for his kids. Little did he know how great. Some 35+ years later, with a grown child of my own, it amazes me how much I think about that unselfish act.

Mom and Dad simplified life’s lessons into very few words: Do what you can with what you have; Make it better for the next generation, but make sure they respect it. Renee and I have tried our best to instill those same values of “upward mobility” into our daughter, Morgan, and so far, seems like a success. All is good. And, as the provider for this family, I know that the the only way I am ever at peace is if I have done my best.

With all of the crazy in the world, I hope you all can enjoy the few things in life that are truly important during the holiday season. Make some memories. Make some really good ones! And if anyone bumps into a good deal on a Ruger .44 carbine rifle, I would love to replace the one that I think of often.

Merry Christmas Dad. Merry Christmas Mom. Merry Christmas to all! TimberhoundlogoPIC

December 23, 2015 |

Clearcut is NOT a dirty word!

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Somewhere along the way it seems that forestry professionals shied away from conducting silvicultural clearcuts in the northeast, in part, to keep environmentalists from screaming too loud. Unfortunately, trying to “fly under the radar” in this manner is akin to giving in to a child when behaving badly. In this case, the timber industry retreated and allowed a very important battle to be won by groups who are dead wrong!

I have seen thousands of acres harvested by well intended contractors, selling the “selective harvest” snake oil. In many cases, though not all, the “selection” process boils down to harvesting the most valuable timber, leaving a well distributed stand of poorly formed trees and/or undesirable species. It may in fact look like a respectable harvest to those who like things neat and tidy, but this type of disturbance is often far more harmful to the forest future than a clearcut would be. A clearcut would also be more beneficial to willife as well.

I have spent some time looking at various stages of regeneration in forests that have been clearcut in the past, including areas that I have cleared in the past twenty five years, and I like what I see. The quality of stems and species is remarkable in these stands. I know that I will not live long enough to see commercial harvesting in these stands, but in many cases, loggers and foresters should be proud to take it right to the ground and start over. Clearcut is not a dirty word. Say it loud! Say it proud! Its high time to head back into battle!!

November 8, 2015 |

The First Toy Maker to the Loggers

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This feature story was published in the summer issue of The Timber Crier, the quarterly magazine of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. Story and photos by Steve Patten

Just off Route 4 near the village of Danbury, N.H., neatly tucked within a manicured stand of northern hardwoods, a small hobby shop hosts a tremendous talent and a remarkable story.

As a child growing up in Chester, N.H., Bob Wason began his long relationship with wood products by cutting sawlogs and firewood with his grandfather on the family farm. At age 18, Bob signed a three-year enlistment contract with the U.S. Army and was deployed to South Korea for 18 months. Though trained as a tank operator, he attained skills in the building trade while proudly serving his country.

“The war was over. Wasn’t much for a tank driver to do there,” he comments. “So I would spend my time helping the combat engineers build stuff.”

After spending his last year of service at Fort Polk in Louisiana, Bob settled in Raymond, N.H., in 1958. That same year, he began a logging career that would span nearly fifty years and a marriage to his wife Lorraine which remains strong today. Operating a Case crawler and a 1941 Sterling log truck, Bob began contract-cutting for Campbell’s Sawmill in Raymond. A few years later, with a new International TD-9 crawler, Bob yarded logs seven days per week for five Lorden Lumber choppers out of Milford, N.H. During this period, he and fellow contractor Ken Frazier (who perished in a logging accident years later) talked about building a machine that would make short-wood logging much easier. In 1965, the two woodsmen made a trip to Franklin, Va., to discuss their idea with the founder of Franklin Equipment, Roger Drake. As a result of this meeting, the first Franklin forwarder was delivered to Ken’s jobsite later that year, and Bob became its operator.

In the early 1970s, with three children at home, Bob went to work as a logging employee for True and Noyes Lumber Co. in East Derry, N.H. While managing daily activities in the woods, he helped True and Noyes build one of the first fully mechanized whole tree harvesting operations in New Hampshire. In 1990, now with three grown children and a recent building boom rendering their quiet Raymond neighborhood nearly unrecognizable, Bob made another move, taking a job as Foreman for Foresthetics Inc. in Wilmot, N.H., and he and Lorraine made Danbury their new home. Meanwhile, the Wason’s eldest son Donnie assumed the role of manager at True and Noyes upon Bob’s departure and, years later, purchased the company.

In 2002 Bob retired from the logging industry and put his talents and passion to use in a well-equipped woodworking shop. Those who have attended the New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Council’s (NHTHC) Annual Loggers and Truckers Convention over the past 15 years have seen Bob’s craftsmanship in the gun cabinets and model log trucks he has generously donated for the live auction event. Most of the lumber utilized in Bob’s projects is donated by Chester Forest Products, owned and operated by his old friend and longtime New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) director Richard “Dick” Lewis.

“I first worked with Dickey when he was just 17 years old,” Bob recalls. “He chopped for Campbell’s Mill back when I had that old Case. We’ve been good friends ever since.”

In his “retirement,” if it can be called that, Bob, who is now 79, has made many different types and styles of furniture and custom-built kitchen cabinets, and has even built the occasional whole house. I saw a real glimmer in his eyes when we talked at length about the model trucks, trailers, and logging equipment he crafts with meticulous detail. Bob does not build these items with the intention of selling them, though he is not opposed to the concept.

“I don’t keep track of how many hours I spend on each one, but I feel like it’s too many hours to get paid for,” he laughs. “So when I meet someone who I think will really appreciate it, I give them one. That makes me feel good.”

Though I found it slightly difficult to take my eyes off the fleet of wooden trucks and equipment adorning Bob’s shelves and tabletops, I also noted that the walls of the workshop offer a visual tour through Bob Wason’s long career. Near the woodstove there’s a 90mm brass shell casing from his tanker days. Near the stairs hang photos of his early logging days, including photos of the 1941 Sterling, the first Franklin forwarder, and “Dickey” in his younger days. Near the front door, I saw Bob’s NHTHC Professional Logger Program certificate from 1995 (#141), alongside a number of thank you notes from recipients of his generous gifts.

If you find yourself in the Danbury area, or you are looking for a nice day trip, Bob and Lorraine enjoy the company at 18 Wason Drive. Be sure to check out the 8N Ford and the Ferguson tractors which Bob has restored, and ask him to show you his project that’s my personal favorite, a hand-built, working scale model of a water powered sawmill, right there on the lawn!

 

July 8, 2015 |

Some interpretations of 4(d) rule are just Bat Shit Crazy!

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Six weeks after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Northern Long-Eared Bat as a Threatened species and drafted a temporary 4(d) rule which would theoretically exempt agriculture and forestry activities from punishment under the Endangered Species Act for “incidental take”, a handful of Federal agencies have adopted a perverted interpretation of said 4(d) rule in regard to summer timber harvesting. This is a HUGE DEAL because several other bat species are also susceptible to the same syndrome which is effecting the NLEB, and will be considered soon for listing by The Service. This cannot become the Law of the Land!

This summary was prepared by Jasen Stock, Executive Director of New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA), and approved by the legal department of National Association of Forestland Owners (NAFO).

Background

In April the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the Northern Long Ear Bat (NLEB) a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Its population is down due to a fungal disease it contracts while hibernating – white nose syndrome. This bat hibernates in caves during the winter and roosts in trees during the summer. June and July are particularly sensitive months as the mother bats and their pups roost in trees. To allow certain land management activities to continue the FWS adopted a temporary “4(d) rule”. This rule, which the ESA allows to accompany a threatened listing, is open for comment until July 1. Also worth noting, a national group, the Center for Biological Diversity, is challenging this rule in D.C. District court – it is not clear what impact this may have on the rule.

 

A 4(d) rule is designed to determine how activities may be conducted without being considered a prohibited “take” under the ESA. Here, this rule would conclude that timber harvesting beyond ¼ mile of a hibernacula (there are 13 in NH) or known roost trees (there are 2 in NH) would not be considered a take of any bats. Within the ¼ mile zone “take” could occur unless certain restrictions are followed. The link below has more details on how the 4(d) rule will regulate timber harvesting.  The concern is what is “known”. Because these bats can roost in any tree greater than 3 inches in diameter and the FWS has designated the entire state a NLEB buffer zone, that means any tree could have a bat in it. One recommendation is to have landowners contact the FWS before doing any tree cutting on their property to protect themselves. If land managers follow this rule they will protect themselves from being liable for a “take” (i.e. kill, harass, injure). If private, state or federal landowners don’t follow the rule and a bat is taken, the landowner could face severe penalties.

 

Unfortunately, the FWS has not been clear on how to work with the 4(d) rule. To make matters worse, other Federal agencies are interpreting the 4(d) rule in different ways. This is creating a lot of confusion. The US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in particular, is taking an unnecessarily restrictive approach. Any NRCS-funded projects where tree cutting occurs (e.g. habitat management, timber stand improvement, early successional habitat creation, trail and log landing improvements, food plot installation, etc.) has a moratorium on it from April 15 until August 15 (recall, according to the FWS the critical months are June and July and only with the ¼ mile area). This will impact 200 landowners across the state and 500 practices. Ironically, the very programs designed to help improve land stewardship and wildlife habitat are being hung up because of a species health problem that has nothing to do with timber cutting. In addition, the Fish and Wildlife Service, in the preamble to the rule, recognized forest management as a key to the conservation of this bat species and yet NRCS has stopped all forest management from taking place.

 

The NHTOA is urging you to contact the NH Congressional Delegation to make them aware of this problem and urge FWS and the NRCS to allow more reasonable forest and wildlife management to occur.

CALL YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS from your State! Help us stop the madness!

A very organized landing. Lempster, NH job operated by CCM Logging and Chipping.

A very organized landing. Lempster, NH job operated by CCM Logging and Chipping.

May 19, 2015 |

Northern Long-Eared Bat and You part 2

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Looking over the Bartlett Experimental Forest, Bartlett,NH from Bear Notch Road

Looking over the Bartlett Experimental Forest, Bartlett,NH from Bear Notch Road

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will be protecting the Northern Long-Eared Bat as a THREATENED species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service also announced an interim 4(d) rule which provides protection from incidentally harming or killing bat(s) as a result of certain activities; including forest management, limited expansion of transportation and utility rights-of-way and limited tree removal projects so long as these activities protect known maternity roost trees and hibernation caves. The interim rule also allows for removal of hazardous trees.

Public comment regarding a final version of the 4(d) rule will be accepted until July 1, 2015. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will finalize the rule by December 31, 2015 based on additional information it receives.

Public comments can be submitted at the Federal eRulemaking portal:  http://www.regulations.gov/     In the search bar, enter FWS-R5-ES-2011-0024

 

April 2, 2015 |

Northern Long-Eared Bat and You!

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If you work in the timber industry along the U.S. east coast between Maine and N. Carolina, west to Oklahoma and north through the Dakotas, and you are not up to speed on the Northern Long-Eared Bat, this will serve as bat 101.

Within the next seven days, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service will announce their final decision regarding the Bats listing on the Endangered Species List. There are four options on the table at this point; Endangered, which would bring to a halt nearly all summer timber harvesting on Federal and State lands, and likely interfere to some extent on private and industrial lands as well; Threatened, which would still have major negative impacts on harvesting public lands due to added testing and documentation of possible bat habitat; Threatened with a 4(d) rule which would allow special exemptions for “inadvertent take” within the forestry and agriculture industries; Withdrawal of proposal.

As it looks right now, the most likely scenario will be a listing of Threatened with a 4(d) rule exemption. Dozens of trade organizations and concerned politicians provided public comment on the listing itself, as well as the language of the proposed 4(d) rule, because the evidence in this matter points to one simple fact: Although as much as 99% of known Long-Eared Bat populations have already died in some areas of this country, it is NOT related to any human activity. The population decline is caused by White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease affecting all cave hibernating bats. In fact, forest management activity can and does promote bat habitat. Keep an eye on this one!DSCN0302

 

March 25, 2015 |

thetimberhound.com is now FREE FOR ALL USERS

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Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 10.16.32 AMIf you own or manage a timber related business, or you own or manage a business that supports the timber industry, this is for you! After 10 months of editing and testing and formatting, thetimberhound.com has proven to work even better than I thought it would. Now the decision has been made to allow all users free and complete access to the services within thetimberhound.com . So take a look around, think about how it could help your business succeed, then put it through your own test. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments. I built this to serve the industry- and hopefully to make ALL of our lives a little better. ENJOY!!!

March 9, 2015 |

Best deal of the year for timber industry businesses!

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DSCN0076Most of you have no idea who I am or how this website came to be, so I will tell you briefly. Fourth generation logger, in a family that worked hard, always found a way to get by while creating the best possible product and making sure the landowner was treated fair for their resource. A couple of misguided decisions, a dose of bad luck and I was out of business in December of 2012. I had a great reputation throughout the woods of Central NH, so making a paycheck was no problem. The issue became paying off the business debt while not generating the same gross income. One of the jobs I started immediately after pulling the plug, was as standing timber and log buyer for a small hardwood mill with whom I had done business for years. While learning the ropes, I realized that sawlog procurement is done in a rather archaic way considering the technology available, and utilized daily within the industry. So I brainstormed the development of thetimberhound.com with major help from my wife, Renee, and a number of good industry leaders, spent many thousands of dollars getting the site built, and tested it thoroughly within the directories that have developed since its launch in May, 2014. IT WORKS! IT REALLY WORKS! Nearly all of the members within the Business Profiles and Support Service categories have made new contacts within the past several months, and many of them have made business transactions already! The regular price point that we established for membership is a great deal considering the benefits of being listed within thetimberhound.com directories, but at this point, we all need to see rapid expansion of the directories in order for the site to perform to its potential. That is why I am offering this deal to new businesses until the end of January. Show off your  page in the business profiles directory for one full year at only $15 by typing  TH75  in the coupon box during sign up. Support service listings get the same great deal by typing in TH60.

I am one of you! No secrets here. I believe in this website, and know that it is a great tool for the industry. IT IS ALWAYS AS CURRENT AS YOU WANT IT TO BE because you have editorial control over your page(s). I am still buying wood for the little hardwood mill, and I have taken on a challenging position with the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association; battling on behalf of the industry. My mobile # is on the website, and I would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding the benefits or the process. Thank you for your time. Be Safe!

January 8, 2015 |

First day on the job

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A lot of the details have long been forgotten, but the important ones I will remember forever. I was eleven years old, and had just completed fifth grade. Dad woke me at 5 am to go to work with him for the first time. I had been in the woods before, seen his skidder and the logs that he produced, but never spent a day with him at work. Dad packed up some sandwiches while I ate breakfast, we did the barn chores together then took off in his pick-up. Not a word was spoken along the route until we stopped at Bev’s Place to fill a couple of cans with diesel fuel. As he got back into the driver,s seat and pushed the clutch in, he tossed a bag of Chattanooga Chew at me and said “Don’t ever take up smokin'”. I didn’t. When we reached his landing, the smell of mud and sawdust, hydraulic oil and new spring growth was exciting. Some 30 plus years later, I still smile when those smells take me back there. After Dad checked the fluids in the skidder and brought the engine to life with a spine tingling roar, I got my instructions for the day; as well as the next several. Taking a round file in hand, and leaning over a chainsaw on his tailgate, Dad said “watch how this is done” , a few quick strokes, roll the chain ahead, repeat. “You can’t do anything here until you know how to keep a saw sharp”, he added. So, that’s what I did. When he came onto the landing with a hitch, I would hand him a freshly filed and fueled saw to return into the woods with. As I recall, it was a good many days before I was doing it to his standards, and earned the opportunity to expand the lessons.

Though retired for several years now, my dad is still the logger that I measure everyone else’s abilities against. I think about those early days of my career a lot, and know that I will never be able to thank him enough for the education. Merry Christmas everyone!

December 22, 2014 |

Economic Contribution of the Logging Industry in New Hampshire

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The Center for Rural Partnerships at Plymouth State University recently completed an economics study on behalf of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. This study utilized actual production data and expense reports furnished by logging contractors from every region of the State, and representative of all commonly used harvesting methods. The economic impact reported in this study is generated in the process of felling, skidding, bucking and loading only. Once that product hits the road, a whole new study takes over.

Click on the link below to see the report in its entirety, but a couple of eye openers include;  1,124 NH logging jobs in 2012 supported an additional 309 jobs in “support” industries such as trucking, repair service etc. These 1433 jobs supported an additional 488 service sector jobs across NH.

When the numbers are broken down to simple terms, this study reveals this simple fact. For every 32 ton load of forest products you see on NH roadways, $1600 has been generated within the NH economy in the process of creating that load.

NHTOA will be presenting the results of this study to audiences all over NH in the upcoming months. Keep your eyes open for a venue near you.100_0010 (4)

http://www.nhtoa.org/Economic%20Contribution%20of%20the%20Logging%20Industry%20in%20NH.pdf

December 9, 2014 |
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