January 23, 2010

A Cut Above the Rest

A Cut Above the Rest
The Daily Astorian, January 8, 2010

In Rock Creek, a tributary of the Nehalem River in Clatsop County, water is meandering around 40-foot logs under wispy white alder branches.

There’s no sign that Mark Gustafson and his logging crew were ever there, pulling logs down from the slope above and placing them precisely into the stream so they would enrich the riparian habitat without washing away.

Gustafson Logging Co.’s ‘‘outstanding work’’ promoting stream health earned owner Mark Gustafson the 2009 Northwest Oregon Operator of the Year award from the state Board of Forestry on Wednesday.

In April, the Gustafson crew adapted a skyline carriage system to ‘‘dead lift’’ 55 large trees from the slope above Rock Creek and move them through a stand of alder and into the streambed. ‘‘It was something we’d never done before, to try to place large woody debris in specific designated areas at specific angles to the flow of the stream,’’ Gustafson said.

‘‘We’ve never done anything like lowering a tree through standing timber and getting it to lay at the angle that fisheries and wildlife recommended. But the crew got the hang of it quite quickly and by the end of things, it went real smooth.’

The work was part of a voluntary stream improvement project on a Stimson Lumber Co. tree farm in Clatsop County. Stimson donated the logs, and Gustafson Logging did the heavy lifting. Each of the trees was 40 feet long and weighed several thousand pounds. They had to be moved carefully downhill and through a stream buffer area, where logging isn’t allowed.

‘‘In the usual operation, they’d take everything uphill,’’ said Neil Laugle, protection unit forester for Oregon Department of Forestry. ‘‘In this situation they had to take them downhill and lower them through the existing trees along the creek and place them at a precise angle so the creek would meander around them and they would remain in place.’’

Once the operators established a rhythm for the process, logs could be lifted and placed in about five minutes, leaving the nearby stand of alders untouched.

Gustafson said they moved six or seven trees a day and finished the job in about two weeks.

‘‘What made this project stand out so much is you couldn’t even tell they’d been there,’’ said Laugle.

Gustafson and his brothers, Clay and Wade, represent the second generation of family ownership for the Astoria logging company founded by their father Duane Gustafson in 1974.

Mark Gustafson and members of his crew also starred in the first season of the History Channel TV series ‘‘Ax Men.’’

Receiving Operator of the Year awards for the Eastern and Southern regions of the state for 2009 were:

— O’Rorke Logging of John Day owner Charlie O’Rorke, for a fuels management timber harvest on 200 acres near the Grant County community of Mt. Vernon.

— David Brink Logging of Roseburg, for the planning and community involvement work that went into a timber harvest within the city limits of Sutherlin in 2009.

Information from: The Daily Astorian,

January 23, 2010

Why Gustafson Logging matters

Why Gustafson Logging Matters
Enhancing salmon and silviculture demand more ingenuity
The Daily Astorian January 11, 2010

If you care about forest health and salmon spawning, give Gustafson Logging a lot of credit. As Cassandra Profita reported Thursday, the Oregon Board of Forestry has given Gustafson Logging the 2009 Operator of the Year award. Gustafson is attentive and precise in its stream restoration work.

Theory and practice in riparian (river bank) zones has changed considerably over the past 20 years. While loggers used to “clean up” streams, there is now a wide recognition that salmon thrive in streams where fallen trees create a series of biologically rich pools.

Gustafson’s work in Rock Creek, a tributary of the Nehalem River, is a demonstration of modern logging artistry. As a Board of Forestry official told Profita, it was almost as if the loggers hadn’t been in the streambed. How did they pull it off? By adapting a skyline carriage system to move 55 large trees from a slope and into the stream.

Gustafson’s recognition is a reminder that local enterprise matters in many ways. A firm such as Gustafson contributes to the economy. But to be a logging company in 2010 demands a measure of ingenuity and a broader vision than it did 30 years ago.

Today, healthy forests require an ongoing commitment by logging firms and everyone else who lives and works here. Just replanting new seedlings doesn’t suffice. We have to think about how the whole system fits together with a keen eye on goals beyond our own lifetimes.

Not only loggers, but all local residents, can learn from the work in Rock Creek. In a system with countless moving pieces, all our individual actions add up.

The very notion of ecology is that all living things have a relationship. We know that the state of the forests has a lot to do with the health of salmon populations. Pulling those two elements together is a challenge. That’s why firms like Gustafson Logging and its creative energy matter.

January 23, 2010

Forest Operator of the Year

‘Ax Men’ logger Mark Gustafson named Northwest Oregon Forest Operator of the Year

By DeAnn Welker, The Oregonian
January 07, 2010

Oregon “Ax Men” loggers have had their share of bad press in the past year (examples here and here), but Oregon Department of Forestry offers up some good.

A former “Ax Men” logger, Mark Gustafson—whose company was on the first two series of the acclaimed series—received a statewide honor as Forest Operator of the Year, disproving naysayers who think the crews on the show are somehow separate from the state’s timber industry.

Watch first-season video of Mark Gustafson or read more about his crew on the History Web site. And listen to an audio clip of Gustafson from the Department of Forestry. 

January 23, 2010

Ax Men Loggers honored by Oregon

‘Ax Men’ loggers honored by Oregon
By Matthew Preusch, The Oregonian
January 07, 2010

Mark Gustafson, whose Astoria-based logging company was the subject of the History Channel reality series “Ax Men”, was among those honored by the state as 2009’s top loggers.

The Oregon Department of Forestry named Gustafson Logging the Forest Practices Operator of the Year for northwest Oregon for work the company did placing large trees in a creek on a private tree farm in Clatsop County to improve habitat for fish.

Gustafson, along with brothers Clay and Wade, are the second generation of their family running the Astoria logging company, founded by their father Duane Gustafson in 1974.

You can hear audio of Mark Gustafson talking about the company here.

O’Rorke Logging of John Day won the award for eastern Oregon, while Dave Brink Logging of Roseburg was named top operator for southern Oregon.

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