The Lane County Events Center and Fairgrounds in Eugene would be buzzing with activity this week as Oregon Logging Conference setup was taking place, if we were not still navigating through a pandemic.
“I am disappointed that we cannot gather in person this year and have to say that I will miss seeing everyone,” said 2021 Oregon Logging Conference (OLC) President Scott Melcher. He said the theme of this year’s conference, Family, Friends, and Forestry, describes what is helping him get through these challenging times. “Little did we know at the time we selected the theme for the 83rd Annual OLC, just how relevant it would be,” Melcher said. “And relevant not just to the OLC, but to all of us as we go through these challenging times.”
According to Kari Westlund, President and CEO of Travel Lane County, the Oregon Logging Conference is an important economic event. “It brings close to $3 million in visitor spending to our economy each February,” Westlund said, “providing a mid-winter boost to area hotels and restaurants.” And she added, “It is an honor to host this annual gathering (in Eugene) of one of our important economic sectors and we look forward to the return of the Oregon Logging Conference in 2022 when it celebrates its 84th year.”
There are several OLC activities that are taking place this year in modified formats, to fit within ongoing and continuously changing restrictions. (hover your phone over the QR code, and go to the web address that is displayed for more information)
First is the traveling sawdust bowl, a social networking event that is taking place in several Oregon communities. Staying within existing COVID-19 restrictions, these limited attendance, outdoor gatherings provide an opportunity to talk with and make new friends in the logging industry. All are taking place in February, with five already taking place and two more are scheduled for Friday, Feb 26th in Roseburg, and Saturday, Feb 27th in Eugene.
Seminars covering current topics are all pre-recorded this year and will be available for viewing on the OLC private YouTube channel. Topics include Better Ideas/New Technology in Logging, The Three C’s (Communication, Coordination, and Cooperation) of Logging Safely Around High Voltage Facilities, Your Voice – Your Vote Counts, New Products and Practices for Cable Assist Logging, and seven presenters talking about the Oregon Forest Practices Act. Those interested in these topics must register online (OLC website) to view the pre-recorded sessions.
The popular OLC Guess the Net Scale activity has gone virtual this year. What would usually be a loaded log truck parked at the Fairgrounds, is this year a narrated video of the load of logs. Go to www.oregonloggingconference.com/virtual-guess-the-load-contest/ and click on the photo. This video can be viewed, and guesses submitted until March 7, 2021.
The format has also been modified for what would have been the fourth annual Future Forestry Workers Career Day. This year the Oregon Logging Conference Foundation has partnered with Sweet Home High School and Natural Resource instructor Blake Manley to produce a series of career opportunity videos. The first video is about a career as a feller buncher operator, a second highlights ground based jobs in logging, and another focuses on manufacturing of logging equipment. Other videos talk about truck driving and career opportunities in forestry, reforestation, and forest engineering.
The previous three years of the Future Forestry Workers Career Day were in-person events at the Fairgrounds, attracting over 700 high school students to learn about current job opportunities in the logging, forestry, trucking, wildland firefighting and other resource-related industries.
“It is unfortunate we cannot gather in person this year, but we are moving ahead already planning for next year,” OLC Manager Rikki Wellman said. “We will really miss seeing everyone this year and are hoping for a great in-person reunion in 2022!”
Mark your calendar for the 84th Annual Oregon Logging Conference, February 24 – 26, 2022.