Log Trucks: Rider Safety Part I

In this episode, the Dirty Freehub team goes on a tour to Alder Creek Tree farm with Jennifer Beathe, Forester and Outreach Manager of Starker Forests. During the drie to Alder Creek Tree farm in Corvallis, Oregon, we dive into identifying the recreational and rider safety around logging operations, the dangers involved in this type of work, what to look for as a rider and prioritize safety, and what it means as a recreational user through these areas.

This episode is apart of our multipart series of logging.
Link to the next episode here. TBA
Other episodes here. TBA

Starker Forests: https://starkerforests.com/
Recreation Permits: https://starkerforests.com/land-access/


Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 0:20

We’re headed out to our Alder Creek Tree Farm, and it’s located just on the outskirts of Corvallis, this tree farm that’s managed by Oregon State University. Oregon State gets tens of thousands of recreation users every year on the research forest for hiking, mountain biking and all sorts of recreation activities. It’s a really wonderful playground for Corvallis.

Dirty Freehub 0:45

This is Jennifer Beathe of Starker Forests. I’m Kira Corbett in today on Dirty Freehub Connection. I’m about to go on a tour and ride in some log trucks with Jennifer. Jennifer is the Forester Inn outreach manager at Starker Forests Inn as arranged for the dirty Free Hub team to go up to the Alder Creek Tree farm to watch logging operations in action. In this episode, we focus on the recreational rider’s safety around logging operations, the dangers involved in this type of work, and what it means for us recreational users.

Could tell us a little bit of a brief overview about stalker forests and kind of about the messaging around your operations here.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 1:23

Well, Stalker Forest is a fifth generation family owned forest land owner here in Corvallis, Oregon. We own about 95,000 acres of forest land in five different counties, we manage our forests to sustainably grow wood products that we can eventually harvest and send off to the mill to be manufactured into a variety of products. Oregon is the number one producer of logs and plywood and lumber in the nation, we’re pretty, pretty proud to be able to contribute to that. We know that the global wood demand is expected to increase over the left over the next 30 to 40 years. we think that Oregon is in a good place to provide that that timber and the wood. we are members of the American Tree Farm system, which means that we’re certified to have good forestry practices and in doing that we can provide good water quality, free recreation, wildlife habitat. And we’re products for society and the public and the animals that live in our forests.

Dirty Freehub 2:30

On our way up to the Alder Creek tree farm. Jennifer and I began to chat about safety and logging operations.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 2:37

as we enter the forest, we know during a logging operation that there’s a CB channel. So in this case it’s CB Channel four. So I turn my CB on and then, you know, we can just drive up the road here and usually there are mile markers on the roads and that’s how, you know, you let others know where you’re, where you’re driving.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 2:58

there are pretty big indicators like signs on the road ahead, road closed ahead, the big diamond shaped orange signs are good indicators that the loggers are working nearby.

Dirty Freehub

The CB channel markers.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 3:12

And if you see the CB channel, if it looks like the tree, the mile markers along the road, if it if the road has one, if they’ve been recently spray painted, the road is being used. And then you can often tell by the the way the road itself looks. If there is moss covering the road and it doesn’t look like even a pickup truck has driven across it. You can assume that you’re probably pretty safe. Another small indicator could be if some road brushing has taken place by a road pressure to clear the sides of the road that helps reduce fire danger and then just gives the operations a little bit more room to work. in our case, you can also call our office and say, Hey, I really like to ride my bike on this tree farm, and I was wondering if you have any operations there now.

Dirty Freehub 4:00

So if you’re a walker or a biker coming down this road, what are some things to look out for? You said. Like the mile markers.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 4:06

Yeah, well, like, in this case, we’re driving along the residential road and we don’t own this road. So, Starker Forest and the forest landowner, Like, we can’t make claim to it, so we have to try to be a good neighbor as our overarching goal and be friendly, drive really slow. we really value the relationship with the neighbors. I know for the neighbors on this road and I mean, there’s only like seven houses. And so I have their phone numbers and we regularly interact with each other. so now we’re going to be leaving the, the private residential road and entering Starker forest land. So we have a gate at our the beginning of our property line, and then we have other signage there that you can see and it gives us a name of the tree farm and also the gate name. So this is the main line for the Alder Creek tree farm. We’ve decided to close this tree farm to recreation use for this short period of time while we have the current logging job going on. And the main reason is for public safety.

Dirty Freehub 5:12

Jennifer shares a little story about just how dangerous this work can really be.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 5:17

We had a logger seven, 15 years ago. He actually backed his machine. Over his son, and he lost one of his legs and almost lost his other leg. Wow. And the guy is still working as a logger, and but that was I mean, I remember those couple of days, like, really clearly because he almost died.

They can’t see a person they’re not expecting. It decides to ride through their logging operation. Yeah. And so it just, it’d be a tragedy for somebody to get hurt or worse. Like, these machines are really dangerous. So the most important message for recreational users would be that they, um, the operators in the machines, they don’t they have cameras, they have all the latest technology. They’re operating on $1,000,000 machine, but they can’t see everything.

As we get closer to the tree farm, we begin chatting with some log truck drivers on the CB channels, mostly for safety, but also a little fun.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 6:18

What is your weight in logs?

Log Truck Driver – Starker Forests 6:22

Oh, the growth weight is a 90,000.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 6:27

And that includes the truck, Right?

Log Truck Driver – Starker Forests 6:22

That’s including the truck. It’s. It’s right at 30 ton.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 6:34

You’ll see there’s a log truck coming down the road right at us. So I’m going to pull up and get out of the way. and they’re. A lot of truck drivers have their own flavor of fun.

Occasionally, I have to say. Come on, guys. Like, turn it down a little bit. They did. Oh, really good stories through. And sometimes if they don’t know you’re there, other really funny

Dirty Freehub 7:01

Do log trucks technically have the right away.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 7:04

Yes. So our position is that all forest operations have the right of way at all times, and that just keeps it really simple. So we know with recreation users like between horseback riders and hikers and bikers, there’s the triangle of right of way. And our operations are going to supersede all of that, usually the mile markers are half mile. It’s sometimes quarter mile, but usually half mile markers are just painted on trees. and so you just pay attention to win, that is. And then let everybody know on the CB that you’re headed in or you’re headed out if anybody else is using the road, they can tell what direction you’re going in.

Dirty Freehub 7:46

Typically people are logging Monday through Friday. But since it’s an active area, should people be assuming that there could be a log truck coming at any point?

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 7:54

Yeah. I mean any time the gate is open, that’s a good indicator for us as dark or forest. one of the reasons why we have Gates is to have that really visual, clear indicator that, no, you are leaving somebody else’s property and coming onto our property. And, you know, we have rules and regulations that we ask visitors to follow when they’re on our lands. And so for recreation users, that’s, you know, first thing you need to get a free permit. second thing, you need to know where you are. Loggers work really early hours. They are often up at two or three in the morning and on the logging job as early as three, 3:00, 4:00 in the morning. Certainly before sunrise when it’s still dark, sometimes for several hours. So when you think about what they’re doing there, sending logs to mills that sometimes open to receive logs as early as 6:00 in the morning. So if they have a two hour drive to a certain mill, they’re going to be wanting to load that truck at 4:00 in the morning so that they can arrive to the mill by six, unload and then come back and get another load of logs. And hopefully they can make 2 to 4 or five, maybe turns in a day. And then this means by one, 2:00 in the afternoon, they’re they’re probably finished. And the mills, they’ll stop taking logs, you know, three or 4:00 in the afternoon initially, maybe 5:00. But loggers are an early group, early work group. They get up really early. but the nice thing about recreation on Star here for us is that even though we have over 3000 permits issued every year for recreation, it’s pretty common to be able to come out and find complete solitude

Dirty Freehub 9:41

Despite the nice solitude and the wonderful forests around us. Jennifer also reminds me a few times during our ride that it’s important to know where you are and where you’re riding and whose land that you are on and whether that you have permission to be there.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 9:54

We issue free permits for recreation and we ask that people come to our office. We really like to establish a relationship with people in person and then they can get a year long on a calendar year basis permit for up to six of our tree farms so they can look at the properties on the maps at our office and figure out where they want to go. So we have hundreds of miles of gravel roads for gravel, access for walking or bike riding, photography, wildlife viewing.

Dirty Freehub 10:29

This is actually a really beautiful area.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 10:32

Yeah, I love this tree farm. The leaves are just growing. And then also the Pacific dogwood is flowering right now, so it’s a beautiful time to be out in the woods. you can see the road is pretty curvy and narrow There’s definite spots that you can imagine. If you are a biker that you can get off the road. And then there’s other spots where it’s like, well, there’s not really any room to get off the road. And I think it’s probably the hardest when the bikers are going up because it’s hard to get going. we’re driving right by right now. One of our signs for our trails We decided some signage would be good. And then also to indicate like when the rider should not be on the trail. So we just mimicked the same language that Oregon State used on their research for us. if you’re leaving a track, then maybe you should not be on the trail. So I’ve noticed that people have been doing a really good job lately of following part of our process is some public signage. Like right now we’re driving by a sign that says Planted in 2021. when you look up into the forest there, you might think, Well, I don’t see any seedlings. There’s no trees planted there. But it was actually, you know, planted three years ago. as I’m driving by, I see what looks like some of the trees have been browsed by deer and it’s a little bit smaller than they should be. But, this forest is getting close to being able to, I don’t know what we call take off where you’ll really start to notice the trees here in a couple of years.

Dirty Freehub 12:00

Yeah. I see on the left side these ones were planted on in 2011. They’re already like pretty big.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 12:06

Yeah they are. These are mostly Douglas fir. the native species that grows in the coast range is predominantly Douglas fir, also Western hemlock. If you’re right along the coast, we grow spruce, but our forests are predominantly comprised of Douglas fir.

Dirty Freehub 12:24

I remember in your email you were talking about some stories of someone who is kind of sneaking by.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 12:30


Dirty Freehub 12:30

Do you guys get that a lot around here?

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 12:33

Well, fortunately, not a lot, but the stories continue, so it’s still happens that recreation users will think that they can. They think they can just sneak through. I mean, we’re all we all do it right, Like I even like in my own kitchen, like I’m just going to sneak by, you know, my husband who’s trying to cook something and then all of a sudden I’m in his way and like, we all think we don’t take up that much room and that we’re not that noticeable. But unfortunately, when working around logging operations, we have moving cables, moving equipment, moving machinery and as high tech as the equipment is with cameras to look around, the operator can see all sides of him. His machine, you know, he can’t always see everything. And there’s been some certainly accidents that have happened where people have gotten injured, physically injured or worse by coming in contact.

Dirty Freehub 13:37

I know you probably see this every day, but this is very exciting to see.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 13:41

the most exciting thing to see is an active logging operation When we get up to the logging job, you’ll get a much better picture of what the whole process is all about. we could maybe park on this, turn back here and just walk up.

Log Truck Driver – Starker Forests 13:55

Put me on the spot and make a move back up. But, yeah, we could get back up if you guys want to come up here.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 14:02

Okay, we’ll do that.

Dirty Freehub 14:05

As we were arriving at the logging operations, Jennifer hands me my hard hat to put on. You can tune in to our next episode, which will cover general logging information as well as the experience riding in a 30 tonne logging truck.

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