On Sept. 11, Shuster’s Logging hauled the first load of logs out of the Usal Redwood Forest since the forest was purchased by the Redwood Forest Foundation in October 2007. Schuster’s delivered 4,000 board feet of redwood logs to the Redwood Empire Mill in Philo.
On Sept. 13, the first load of 3,690 board feet of Douglas fir was delivered to the Schmidbauer Lumber, Inc. mill in Eureka. To date that mill has received four loads with a total volume of 15,890 board feet of Douglas fir.
The Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc (RFFI) purchased the 50,000-acre forest with financing through an environmental loan from the Bank of America. Since that time RFFI, with their contractor, Campbell Timberland Management, have conducted over $2,000,000 of forest and stream restoration work in Usal.
Current restoration is soon to be completed on the Lower Usal Creek and the current phase of the Standley Creek restoration was completed this year. In October 2011, RFFI placed a conservation easement on the forest that assures it will be managed sustainably in perpetuity and can never be fragmented.
The current logging operation began Aug. 13, and will continue until the rains force operations to be sidelined until the spring of 2013. Both redwoods and Douglas fir will be harvested from three areas, totaling 284 acres, commonly referred to as the Usal Creek, M&M, and Hales Grove areas. The last time that the M&M area was logged was 1990 and the other two areas have not been harvested since 1984.
The Lower Usal harvest should be completed by mid October 2012, and the M&M area is likely to be completed early next year. The areas were selected for RFFI’s first harvest on Usal because they were heavily populated with redwoods, had no resident spotted owls and could be harvested using selective logging.
The Redwood Forest Foundation is a unique not-for-profit organization that is committed to "The Three E’s": Ecology, Economy and Equity. They are restoring the ecological integrity of large working landscapes, like Usal Redwood Forest; advancing free-market solutions to timberland ownership and management that support sustainable local employment while insuring that the resource remains economically productive in perpetuity; and promoting social equity through sustainable management solutions shaped in collaboration with regional stakeholders. In the future, excess revenue will be reinvested in the community.
The current operation will yield 800,000 board feet of redwood and 400,000 board feet of Douglas fir. It is providing employment for 15 full-time positions in the contracting businesses that are working in the forest itself. This does not account for jobs that are being created at the mills.
Shuster’s Logging, Inc of Willits is doing the harvesting; they have subcontracted to Burn’s trucking for hauling and Roach Brothers Logging of Fort Bragg for the falling. Steve Shuster, an owner, whose organization has also been doing extensive restoration work on Usal, is pleased to be involved. His family has been working on Usal Redwood Forest since the 1960s.
Redwood logs are being delivered to the Redwood Empire Mill while the Douglas fir is going to the Schmidbauer Lumber, Inc. mill in Eureka. Larry Holmgren, Schmidbauer’s log procurement manager, reports that they have 110 employees that are involved in turning these logs into lumber.
A loader loads a lumber truck in Usal Redwood Forest.