Episode 2: Tree Harvester

What do you love most about your job?
Kirk Luoto: I think one of the things I like most about my job is that I’m able to do something different almost every single day. Doing this job, you get a really, really big reward out of it just knowing that you’re doing something that most people can’t do or won’t do — just that sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, that you’ve moved a mountainside full of trees.

How many trees do move on average a day?
Kirk: Oh, maybe 300-400 trees a day.

And what would you say is the biggest challenge? How might weather prevent you from your doing your job properly?
Kirk: We’re up in high elevations and sometimes it makes it very, very dangerous for our crew to be working in snowy weather. It’s just really hard to get around and it’s hard to find logs. If you have snow that’s over a foot deep, it just makes it very time consuming and very unsafe.

What are the Top 3 dangers that you’re always trying to prevent?
Kirk: A small danger, the majority of the time, would be a slip and a fall out there. It happens all the time. Sometimes you can really hurt yourself and sometimes you just get back up and shake yourself off. A lot of the time, you have to worry about what we call “upenders” — when you’re yard logging, it involves cables and things like that. Sometimes, trees will be headed up the hill and they’ll hit a stump or a rock or just hit dirt and swing around like a baseball bat. It’s actually taken out a number of men over the history of logging. Another danger would be just random trees falling over, whether it be from the heavy wind that we’ve had and the rain or stuff like that.

Getting to the machines — the Feller-Buncher, the Dangle Head Processor, and the Log Loader. Do you have a favorite machine and if so, why do you like that particular machine?
Bob: My favorite machine is the loader. That’s the one that I was able to teach Richard on. The reason I like it is because the controls and everything are basically the same thing that we use on all our other machines other than our yarders, as they have similar controls. So, if you can get the loader down, then you can get the rest of it and add onto it from there.

Kirk: I think for me, every machine is so different. I like the challenges of each of them. I think running a hot saw and figuring out how you’re going to cut the unit out where it can be logged is a challenge. Running a processor, there are so many buttons on it. You’re constantly thinking all the time, constantly grading the log as it’s going. You have to do it as fast as you can, so that’s a challenge in itself.

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