Special for The Willits NewsOn September 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 September 13, the first load of 3,690 board feet of Douglas fir was delivered to the Schmidbauer Lumber, Inc., mill in Eureka. Sp far, the mill has received a total of four loads, or 15,890 board feet of Douglas fir.
The Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc., purchased the 50,000-acre forest with financing through an environmental loan from the Bank of America. Since that time RFFI, with its contractor, Campbell Timberland Management, has
conducted over $2 million 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,” according to RFFI’s Lin Barrett. In October 2011, the organization “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 August 13, and will continue until winter rain forces operations to be sidelined until spring 2013, Barrett said.
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,” Barrett added.
The Lower Usal harvest should be completed by mid-October, “and the M&M area is likely to be completed early next year,” she added.
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 committed to ‘The Three E’s’: Ecology, Economy and Equity,” Barrett explained. “It is 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 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, she added.
The current operation is expected 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. “This does not account for jobs that are being created at the mills,” Barrett added.
Shuster’s Logging, Inc., of Willits is doing the harvesting; the company has subcontracted to Burn’s trucking for hauling and Roach Brothers Logging of Fort Bragg for the falling.
Steve Shuster, whose organization also has been doing extensive restoration work on Usal, says he is “pleased to be involved,” Barrett said. Shuster’s 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 Schmidbauer Lumber, Inc. mill in Eureka. Larry Holmgren, Schmidbauer’s log procurement manager, said the mill has 110 employees involved in turning the logs into lumber.