More than 6000 industry professionals from 37 U.S. states, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, and Sweden attended the 79th Annual Oregon Logging Conference (OLC), held February 23 – 25, 2017 at the Lane County Events Center and Fairgrounds in Eugene, OR.

Approximately that same number or probably more from local schools and the general public participated in the various activities associated with OLC on Saturday when the show was open free.

“The 79th conference surpasses the successful event from 2016, with more than 250 exhibitors displaying in over 90,000 sq ft. of inside exhibit space and millions of dollars of logging, trucking, construction and heavy equipment displayed on over 14 acres of outside exhibit area,” OLC Conference Manager Rikki Wellman said.

79th Annual OLC President Jeff Wimer said the success of the conference shows that the logging and related industries are thriving. “Quality speakers spoke to packed rooms during the keynote address, panel sessions and seminars, presenting timely information on hot topics in the industry today.” These topics included steep slope logging, state-of-the-art technology, and how to attract a new generation of professionals into the industry.

“Equipment exhibitors were happy with the interactions they had with those attending the conference, and the overall attitude was positive,” Wimer said. “Even the weather cooperated, at least for the most part, during the conference.”

Keynote speaker Merv George Jr., Forest Supervisor of the Six Rivers National Forest in northern California told a capacity crowd that collaboration is a key to moving forward.”If I have a gift, it’s getting people to work together,” George said. “We can do anything when people decide to come together.” He urged more focus on active management on federal land, because without it he predicted more large fires. “The amount of money being spent on fire suppression is staggering,” he said. And he suggested the money being used for fire suppression be put towards timber sales instead.

Education:

Oregon Logging Conference Foundation Live Auction held on Thursday and Friday mornings during the opening breakfasts, brought in more than $24,000 for college scholarships for the 2017-2018 school year.  Thank you to all of the donors and bidders for your educational support.

Education Day at OLC was Thursday, February 23rd, when 800 elementary school students from nine schools had an up close and personal opportunity to learn about logging and related industries. Students from Eugene, Springfield, Coburg, Cottage Grove, and Pleasant Hill were guided by OLC board members and forestry professionals to get a first hand look at equipment and other aspects of the industry.

High School Skills Competition – 28 students from three Oregon high schools competed for top honors in this logging competition. Student from Philomath, Sweet Home, and for the first time, Tillamook High Schools competed in choker setting, cable splicing, crosscut sawing, power bucking, and arbor climbing. These students are learning the skills necessary to become the next generation of the logging industry.

Saturday Family Day – The sun was shining on the final day of the 79th Oregon Logging Conference, when families and interested members of the general public are encouraged to attend, with free admission to the show. The OLC hosts a “family fun and education” event in the Wheeler Pavilion with a focus on the benefits of the wood products industry.  Children learn how to count the age of a tree, build a bird feeder, learn to make paper, and have an up close encounter with wildlife from Wildlife Images.

Desserts for Dreams Charity Event – The 14th Annual charity event held at the Eugene Hilton on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, brought in over $5,000 with 100% of the proceeds donated to the SafeHaven Humane Society.  OLC First Lady Marla Wimer, was very pleased with the turnout and the interest in this worthwhile charity.  The Desserts for Dreams is one event held each year in conjunction with the OLC.  Delicious desserts and other luncheon fare are donated by local restaurants and bakeries.

Guess the Board Feet of Loaded Log Truck  Winner – There was a tie between four people for the closest guess of board feet in the load of logs at the OLC, and Brittany Kreutzer from Langlois, OR (near Coos Bay) was drawn as the winner. She and three others guessed 6,500 board feet net, which was closest to the actual board feet of 6,490. Kreutzer comes from a family of loggers and truckers and is currently involved in the trucking industry. A total of 774 guesses were submitted during the OLC.

For those who are curious – the Gross scale of the load was 7,980 Board Feet and the logs on the load consisted of 2M, 3P, and 2P log grades with deductions for Knots, Pitch Ring, and Large Spangle. The highest guess received was 3,000,002 board feet and the lowest guess was 45 board feet.

8th Annual Log Loader Competition – You might recognize the names of the winners of this year’s log loader competition, as they are the same as last year, but in a slightly different order. 25 operators competed to see who could complete the challenge in the faster time. This year’s winners are:

First Place – 3:14.75

Bryan Chipps, Green Diamond Resource Company, Korbel, CA

Second Place – 3:20.25

Ross Cribbs, Van Well Timber Co, Dallas, OR

Third Place – 3:23.31

Zane Bryant, Bryant Logging Co., Beaver Creek, OR

All of these activities and more will be part of the 2018 Oregon Logging Conference, February 22, 23, and 24. Mark your calendar now, as OLC will celebrate the 80th Annual gathering. New and exciting plans are also in the works!