Log Trucks: Rider Safety Part II

This episode is part of our logging series which covers topics in safety, education, and what we need to know as recreationalists in active logging areas. In this episode, we connect back with Jennifer Beathe, Forester and Outreach manager of Starker Forests and Austin Finster, owner and operator of Finster Forestry. We have an open discussion about recreating around logging equipment and what recreating around these areas look like.

Our guests today provide stories and topics about one of the most important things that we can do as recreational users which is to know where we are and whose land we are on and whether or not we have permission to be there.

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


Dirty Freehub 0:06

This is the connection. A Dirty Freehub podcast connecting gravel cyclists to where they ride through short stories about culture, history, people, places in lands

Dirty Freehub 0:20

In previous episodes of the logging series. We drove up to the Starker Forests Alder Creek Tree Farm to get a firsthand look at logging operations. We then jump into a log truck and discuss with log truck drivers about recreational lists in these logging sites. On today’s episode, we have an open discussion with Jennifer Beathe Forester, an outreach manager of Starker Forests, and Austin Finster, owner and operator of Finster Forestry, where we discuss about recreating around logging equipment as well as how we can best educate ourselves in these areas. Our guest today provides stories and topics about one of the most important things that we can do as recreational users, which is to know where we are and whose lands we are on and whether or not we have permission to be there. Jennifer mentions you’re also a mountain biker, so you kind of bring a unique perspective in the mix of forestry and cycling. You get to see both of these worlds. What is one thing you’d want to share with people about these areas?

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 1:15

Well, you know, like I’m, of course, kind of a nerd about forestry and forest operations. So, like, be it if I am riding or recreating, you know, be it biking, hunting, hiking, whatever. Whenever I see something involving forest operations, I’m super interested and I want to see it. You know what’s going on? It’s okay to be interested and want to see, especially if you know it’s the weekend and things are all part and safe and whatnot. But of course, if you’re like entering an actual active operation during a weekday. Like safety is paramount with communication.

Dirty Freehub 1:51


Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 1:52

You know, either avoid those areas or, you know, perhaps get through. But yeah, making sure that you’re notifying the right folks. I know you’ve got. Yes.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 2:00

And you know, I agree. I think the thing the one hazard that people probably don’t think of more than any other is the overhead hazards. Mm hmm. A user might have used the road for 15 years, and then a timber harvest operation takes place. And then if it’s active, then maybe you have trees that are hung up or you have cables going over the road or, you know, above you that you’ve never looked at before, you know, you’ve never seen before because it wasn’t there. But now it’s there and you might not know to to see it or to look out for it.

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 2:38

Like we had a situation where a mountain biker came through the unit. I’m guessing they thought that they were totally in the clear. You know, the immediate trees we were felling wouldn’t have the ability to reach them. But like I said, it’s not uncommon for one of those trees to be felled into another dead standing tree and then basically, like double your risk distance. So that’s that’s one that I would say, you know, without having, I guess, like the boots on the ground experience, you might think you’re in the clear when realistically the dangers like extend much further than than you would imagine right off the bat.

Dirty Freehub 3:18

That’s a that’s a good point, actually.

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 3:20

Yeah. And even like Jennifer mentioned, you know, some of the cable logging systems, you can see what seems like a, you know, unassuming cable across a road or, you know, being on the ground or up in the air. Mm hmm. But depending on what’s going on, you know, they’re extremely heavy. And depending on what they’re doing, you know, cable go up, they go down. They can, you know, be used to pull other pieces of equipment and other cables around. So you may see some cable lined out on the road that all of a sudden, you know, they’re going a head on a winch and it’s pulling something else along. And you wouldn’t think anything of it, just this little, you know, 3/8 inch cable. But all of a sudden, you know, it’s got a ton of energy in it. And if something were to come loose or you were to contact that it would be. Yeah, yeah. Not a great situation.

Dirty Freehub 4:14

You don’t think about stuff up above. I mean, you might see the cable, but you might think about where it’s going to be able to react and Yeah.

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 4:21

Yeah. And I was like, I was thinking about it some today, you know, even for workers in the forest industry, you know, there’s dangers involved with the work that takes place and it takes it takes a lot of time for somebody that’s in the woods every day, even to, you know, become more educated on those. So if you’re recreating in an area around some things like that that you weren’t super familiar with, it’s like that danger could be, you know, heightened way above what you’re expecting.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 4:50

Yeah. And I think if you have users that go to the same place again, they could think like, well, I know this place like the back of my hand. Yeah. Every day for the last eight years. But then you throw a logging operation in the mix and it throws I can’t can what it was what that person thought was usual and customary. Yeah.

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 5:12

I’d be interested to know how many like pure gravel bikers go out and ride on starker roads.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 5:20

I wonder to.

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 5:21

I guess, a subsector of what we’re talking about. It’s pretty common for lake forest roads to be kind of revamped or refurbished before like active harvesting operations, you know, take place. So somebody might have a road that they like and they just put fresh rock on this stuff. And like I’ve been riding it for, you know, three months. Well, the harvesting team has been, you know, coming up behind and then one day, like you mentioned, it’s like there’s a big change at the end of that road that you didn’t really realize because you’ve just been enjoying it. In the meantime.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 5:54

You know, we put a lot of rock on the road to the harvest that we see today, and it’s three miles to that.

Dirty Freehub 5:59

That’s a lot.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 6:00

And then right before the harvest, we rolled it with a roller and it was so smooth, a biker. And I said, Hey, do you know about our upcoming recreation closure? And he’s like, Yeah, but that’s not until next week. And I said, Yes, you’re right. But we just hold the road and it’s nice and flat as you’ll ever see it. So you should go right it this weekend.

Dirty Freehub 6:19

That’s funny.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 6:21

I would like to know if you did. Yeah, we all think I’m just going to sneak by and everybody has the circumstance in their life where that is true. I do not take that much room. I’m going to sneak by, and nobody’s going to notice me. But it could mean risking your life. Which, if that’s the case and recreating around logging equipment and operations, then it’s really not worth it.

Dirty Freehub 6:45

Is there a way that we can signal to log truck drivers or vise versa, or log truck drivers signaling to other logging truck drivers if there is someone in an area whether they’re supposed to be there or not.

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 6:55

So I would say, like most all of our like enclosed cab equipment. Yeah, trucks we typically have and I say typically, but it’s not totally sure if it’s an ocean requirement, but it’s pretty much standard operating procedure to have a CB radio channel listed. Yeah. So really, you know, you might have people on the ground, you know, falling trees or doing other kind of labor tasks that may not be as tight end with radio communications, but otherwise, like, you know, all of the log trucks in sort of that road network within a couple of miles can communicate together. And commonly if we, you know, see somebody recreating, we were pretty good about talking about it just to let each other know like, hey, keep your eyes peeled. Somebody might be coming out or obviously, like if somebody really does need to pass through, we can be like on the radios, halt everything for a quick second here. But it can be tough to we’re a fairly small operation doing like commercial thinning with really only, you know, 2 to 3 people at a time working on a site. And typically everybody’s working pretty independently of each other, whereas like there might be other situations where somebody wants to pass through a unit and depending on the route that they would have to take, like, well, especially if they’re hiking or if it’s a really technical mountain bike truck, it might take, you know, ten, 20 minutes for them to get all the way through the harvest area and like they could be holding up a crew of like 8 to 10 people pretty easily. And like that’s I mean, that’s a good yeah, that’s a really it.

Dirty Freehub 8:35

Is part of your job, you know, to like understand where you are. But also consider people are actively working right right.

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 8:41

I think it’s one of those things that especially handful of recreational is probably not the end of the world, but that is kind of a reason for posted trail closures. There may be times where they really cannot safely and effectively do their job if they’re having to pass. Yeah, ten or 20 people through in a day. You know, it just it segments things way too much.

Dirty Freehub 9:02

So with both your kind of feet in both worlds, does it change your perspectives on kind of where you ride or recreate between work and that avenue?

Austin Finster – Finster Forestry 9:11

I mean, I really just try to steer clear of the operations, I guess. Yeah, I know how it can, I guess, be a hindrance to folks. And then sometimes its operations, depending on the landowner and the project, you know, they move through areas fairly quickly, like it’s not like a certain recreation area is likely to be shut down for like a year or two years, like it might be a couple of months. And depending on the trail closures or if I don’t know what they are often just like avoid it entirely just from the point of I don’t want to ride all the way up this road to a trailhead, only to find out that it’s closed.

Dirty Freehub 9:46

Definitely. How can we educate riders and recreation lists about a lot of this? These messages and just in general about like the logging industry?

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 9:54

Well, we know that educating the public about what we do is pretty important. We need a social licence to do our harvesting the way we do it. We we need to get the public on board with knowing that we’re good land managers, sustainable practices and takes care of the forest. So we have a responsibility to provide outreach and education to the public. We can do that via our website. Social media. We offer a ton of free tours throughout the year from different organizations. It is pretty convenient to be located next to Oregon State University because there’s a variety of people that come through the university for different conferences and educational opportunities throughout the year, and we have a good reputation for having really solid forestry practices. The starker family, specifically Barb Starker, who is the third generation Starker He always wanted to take people to the forest and he would say that if he could take people out into the forest, he could get them to think that our forest management was taking care of the forest. And so, you know, we still believe that now.

Dirty Freehub 11:05

Alone is a good message for people to hear, too, because it’s like it’s something to hear about it, but it’s another thing to even see it too.

Jennifer Beathe – Starker Forests 11:11

Right? It’s easy to just tell people things, but when you can go show that, it makes a bigger impact, I think it also helps to share our really long range view. I mean, the trees that we’re planting today are not going to be harvested in our own careers. We’re not growing these trees for ourselves. We’re growing them from growing the trees for the future. You know, a big consideration lately has been climate change and what kind of forests are going to be growing in Oregon. And 50 or 100 years as foresters who are professionals at managing forests, We know we have to do what works now. So we’re not making any drastic changes to the like the tree species that were growing in light of climate change. But we do realize that that could be necessary in the future and that we might have to be making some adjustments and the type and species of trees that we’re growing. Oregon is the number one producer of Slugs and plywood and lumber in the nation, and 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 like over the next 30 to 40 years. And we think that Oregon is in a good place to provide that that timber and the and the wood. And 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 wood products for society and the public and the animals that live in our forests.

Dirty Freehub 12:56

Jennifer Austin, thank you so much for your time today. This has been so exciting to be able to go around starker forests and see all the logging productions live. I know you guys probably see this sort of stuff all the time, but it was absolutely a wonderful opportunity. Dirty Free Hub is a non-profit organization fueled by your generous contributions. Find us at Dirty Free Hub Dot org.

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