Associated Oregon Loggers, Inc.
2015 Madrona Avenue, Salem, OR
“Logging” – Stages of a Harvest


Forest Management Plan
Project Plan
Prescription & Design
Field Layout & Preparation
Forest Regulation Compliance
Contract Award
Contract Administration
Road & Landings
Timber Falling & Bucking
Log Processing
Log Sort, Deck, Load
Log Trucking
Log Scaling
Slash Piling

Stages of Harvest Image Stages of Harvest Image Harvesting timber and other forest management activities in Oregon forestlands are commonly referred to as “logging.” Logging is the profession of cutting trees, moving them from stump to the road, in-forest manufacturing trees into logs & chip products, and then transporting the log products to timber mills far from the forestland. There are 16 different stages of a logging harvest operation.

Loggers—also known as forest operators or contractors—conduct the varied and complex timber harvest operations in compliance with Oregon’s high forest protection standards. Loggers prepare & clean-up harvest sites, manufacture trees into numerous log products, then finally sort and haul the logs to various markets. Loggers also build & maintain forest roads, prevent erosion, conduct various habitat improvements, and clean-up harvest “slash”(tree limbs, tops, excess broken/rotten wood & shrubs).

Loggers are called “contractors” because most forestry operations are conducted on a contract basis by small private forestry businesses, which are specialized in skilled the forest operation trades. Logging contractors manage fleets of specialized logging machinery, heavy trucks, and employ skilled crews ranging from just a few to over 100 employees. These forestry crews on the job tend the forest, harvest the timber, protect forests from wildfire & pests, and assure the environment is maintained. Their work varies seasonally with the changing weather, it varies geographically with changing project locations, and it varies by the methods and systems demanded by a particular project design and prescription.

Following are the 16 different stages typically in an Oregon logging harvest operation:

  1. Forest Management PlanStages of Harvest ImageA written long-term plan developed by the forest landowner, which orchestrates desired future conditions for forest resources, forestry treatments, standards, and timber management. Includes integrated forest resource objectives and forest regulatory considerations.




  2. Project PlanStages of Harvest ImageA short-term plan developed by the forest landowner and forestry professionals, which directs the current proposed forestry treatments, along with the project’s standards, and timber management objectives. Forest management plan provides guidance to create project plan.




  3. Prescription & DesignStages of Harvest ImageThis is the detailed written project treatment plans, maps, locations, that identify harvest methods, prescriptions, tree marking guides, logging harvest systems, road designs, protected resources, and so forth. This project prescription is prepared by the forest landowner and forestry professionals. Prescription & designs follow the project plan. Legal easements, boundary survey, property use agreements, and/or rights-of-ways may be necessary.



  4. Field Layout & PreparationStages of Harvest ImageThe on-the-ground designation of planned project plan prescriptions and designs. Work includes locating and marking boundaries, protected resources (such as streams, wetlands, habitat, wildlife trees), roads, landings, and treatment subdivisions. Also tree marking, timber cruise, road staking, road design, appraisal, mapping, and contract preparation.



  5. Forest Regulation ComplianceStages of Harvest ImageForest operations must adhere to strict forestry regulations that govern how natural resources (water, habitat, air, soil) are protected during forest harvest projects in Oregon. Detailed written project treatment plans, maps, and locations, are prepared by the forest landowner and forestry professionals (and often with the harvest contractor). For each project, this written documentation includes formal Notification, Written Plans, maps, and burning permit applications submitted to the Oregon Dept. of Forestry.



  6. Contract AwardStages of Harvest ImageThe forest landowner or timber purchaser seeks bids form perspective harvest contractors. Contract terms & rates are negotiated, or bid, and the landowner or purchaser select contractor(s) to complete the forest management project work. The contractor and landowner/purchaser both sign a written contract that describes the agreed upon contracted services, schedules, rates, scaling, maps, plans, specifications, destinations, designs, and other detailed terms. Most harvest-related contracts average between a 12-month to three-year length to complete the specified services. .



  7. Contract AdministrationStages of Harvest ImageWorking under a written contract to complete a forest management project demands ongoing communication and monitoring among parties to the contract and regulating State agencies—contractor, landowner, purchasers, sub-contractors, Oregon Dept. of Forestry foresters, Oregon Dept. of Transportation, and so forth. Possible milestones include a pre-work meeting, incremental unit reviews, road completion, and post-work close-out.


  8. Road & LandingsStages of Harvest ImagePrior to beginning harvest, the contractor completes planned road construction, reconstruction, and maintenance during operations. “Landings” are the constructed work areas located on forest roads, where logging concentrates skidding, processing, decking, and loading logs onto trucks. Road improvements include necessary planned landing construction. Forest road contracting is a complicated process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment and highly-skilled professionals in heavy construction, forestry, logging, and engineering.


  9. Timber Falling & BuckingStages of Harvest ImageContractor falls trees, and usually conducts some preliminary tree processing at the stump, which might include topping, delimbing, “bunching” (arranging trees/logs into piles), and “bucking” (processing/cutting the tree into merchantable logs). Trees must be directionally-felled to protect resources and optimize production. Timber security & accountability is assured at this stage by cutting only the trees clearly designated for harvest. Falling and bucking begin to manufacture log products from trees, which is a complicated process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment, saws, and highly-skilled logging professionals.


  10. Yarding/SkiddingStages of Harvest ImageContractor moves trees and/or logs from the stump to a planned roadside landing location—often lifting whole trees clear from the ground (or partially-lift) to protect resources and optimize production. “Yarding” lifts trees with cable suspension systems often on slopes; while “skidding” utilizes ground-based machines to pull or lift trees on gentler terrain. Yarding/skidding trees is a complicated process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment, specialized rigging, saws, and highly-skilled logging professionals.




  11. Log ProcessingStages of Harvest ImageThis is the final manufacture of each tree into the optimal mix of desired log products. “Processing” which might include topping, delimbing, “bunching” (arranging trees/logs into piles), and “bucking” (processing/cutting the tree into merchantable logs). The contractor may complete processing either at the stump, or more commonly at the roadside “landing” area. Processing is typically done partially at the stump, and then completed at the landing. Optimal manufacture log products from trees is a complicated process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment, computer optimizing systems, saws, and highly-skilled logging professionals.


  12. Log Sort, Deck, LoadStages of Harvest ImageIn addition to log processing done at this location, a contractor works at roadside landings to complete the grading & sorting of logs into like batches of log grades. After sorting, logs are piled “decked” into stacks to await subsequent loading of logs onto log trucks. A harvest operation may produce up to 12 different sorts of log types/grades, which must be handled separately. Typically each truck load is a batch of logs targeted for a single timber mill destination. Each mill usually only purchases a limited number of grades; and the mill may specify that each load contain a single grade. “Landings” are the roadside work areas, where logging activities are concentrated. Log security & accountability is assured at this stage by issuing a unique load ticket, brand , and identification for each load of logs. Log sorting, decking & loading is a complicated process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment and highly-skilled logging professionals.


  13. Log TruckingStages of Harvest ImageThe contractor transports each truck-load of logs from the harvest area, via private forest roads and public highways. The trucks are often routed to a specific timber mill; although sometimes the destination is a log sales yard, a railroad reload yard, or an export yard. Log truck drivers typically must negotiate their 80,000 lb. loaded truck on winding, steep, slippery single-lane forest roads. Because forest roads are challenging the empty log truck carries its trailer piggy-back from the mill to the forest landing. There the log loader lifts the trailer into place behind the truck for loading. Additionally, there is a fair volume of Oregon log transport by rail, barge, tow, and longshore shipping. Log trucking is a complicated process that demands purpose-built 18-wheel freight trucks, and highly-skilled professional log truck drivers with a Commercial Driver’s License.


  14. Log ScalingStages of Harvest ImageAfter each truck-load of logs arrives at the timber mill, or a secure log yard, the logs are off-loaded by large log loading machines, and measured by an independent private timber measuring organization. This measuring of log volume is called “scaling,” and conducted according to contracted terms. Scaling is commonly a volume-grade-defect measurement calculated for each log by a certified scaling professional. For low-value logs, scaling may be simply measured by log-load weight or load tally, using predetermined conversion ratios. Accurate and ethical scaling is important because payment among timber parties (logger, timber owner, landowner, purchaser, mill) is determined by daily scaling reports that tally each truck load. Log scaling is a technical process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment and highly-skilled log scaling professionals.


  15. Slash PilingStages of Harvest ImageAfter timber harvest is completed, the logging contractor often is responsible for clearing and relocating the logging “slash”(tree limbs, tops, excess broken/rotten wood & shrubs), and placing the debris in appropriate piles. Slash piling reduces future wildfire hazards and also begins the planned site preparation task necessary to create favorable site conditions to establish new young tree seedlings in the harvested area. This re-arrangement of slash is a complicated process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment, saws, and highly-skilled logging professionals.


  16. Clean-UpStages of Harvest ImageOften the last task for the logging contractor to finish before the forest harvest operation is completed is the site clean-up. Forest harvest contracts may include an array of maintenance items necessary to prepare for subsequent reforestation, to prevent erosion and stream sedimentation, or to assure properly functioning forest road drainage. After timber harvest is completed, the logging contractor may be responsible for the following: re-shaping/blading roads, landings & ditches; removing garbage & waste materials; grass seedling ditches & landings; replacing worn road rock surfacing; mulching exposed soils near drainage; clearing roads & drainage of slash; placing rock rip-rap; installing added road cross-drains; blocking a road; and other actions. This clean-up re is a thorough process that demands purpose-built heavy equipment, saws, and highly-skilled logging professionals.

Stages of Harvest Image Once a harvest ends, there are other specialized forest contract companies that prepare harvested sites and plant new tree seedlings according to Oregon Forest Practices Act (OFPA) reforestation requirements, so that the forest will regenerate successfully. There are contractors that complete site preparation, harvest slash piling, prescribed burning work, and/or reduction of unwanted competing vegetation, which is needed to prepare a harvested site for tree regeneration. Other companies have crews that work to protect tree seedlings from animal damage, cut to thin overcrowded small trees, and fight forest fires to prevent resource losses.