Any foresters or loggers out there?


Enthusiastic about Wooden Canoes
Greetings paddleheads,
Part of the mystique of canoe building and repair is the accomplishment of procuring one's own lumber. I am a retired environmental consultant, trained in forestry and range management. I would like to hear from people in the Great Lakes and Northest areas who work in the woods or spend time finding trees for boat lumber. Are there any horse loggers out there? My family is from Washington State since 1889 and I went to school at the U. of Wash. My relatives came to Arlington, VT in 1752. You can't have boats without lumber, and you can't have lumber without logging. Just remember that a healthy forest is no accident. (Soc. of American Foresters).

Remember to get those boats wet.
Thanks for all your help so far.

No loggers at our house, but Denis is in touch with one who keeps his eye out for whatever it is we need (either for the house or the canoes). Denis knew a guy who logged with horses here (in Michigan's Upper Peninsula) but isn't sure he still does.

The current house-project involves paneling made of basswood for the third-floor bedroom. If our logger-friend is taking out some trees that include basswood, we get a call. I like this, because we aren't asking that trees be cut specifically for our project.

A while back, someone requested an Old Town build record that turned out to have been originally shipped to Gifford Pinchot, who ordered a 15 foot CS grade fifty pound model in 1922.

And, because you like trees and forests, I'll share a favorite quote from Aldo Leopold:

"Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a good shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree—and there will be one.

"If his back be strong and his shovel sharp, there may eventually be ten thousand. And in the seventh year he may lean upon his shovel, and look upon his trees, and find them good.

"God passed on his handiwork as early as the seventh day, but I notice He has since been rather noncommittal about its merits. I gather either that He spoke too soon, or that trees stand more looking upon than do fig leaves and firmaments."

Waiting for spring and boat-wetting season!

I am retired from Weyerhaeuser Co. There OSB mill in Grayling Mi. We also have a hardwood sawmill in Lewiston.There are still a few using horse's.
As far as boat lumber goes you can get all the clear flat sawn white cedar that you want, Quarter sawn is very hard to find the saw mills don't want to bother sawing it. You can still find clear ash and cherry but the price is quite high and it is hard to find a sawmill that will cut long length's and you must find a logger that will let you know when he finds trees that might yield clear lumber. Eight foot lgt's of hardwood are easy to obtain.In the UP there are still a few clear Eastern White Fir being able to get them is also hard.
Who is selling clear white cedar in Northern Michigan? The cedar mills I called wanted no part of grading out clear from their regular stock.
Logging for boat lumber


My original thought relates to the wonder of the early canoes, built from local materials that were always available locally during a trip for repairs. Part of the value system among outdoor people, especially in the West, is self-sufficiency.

I am absolutely thrilled to receive posts from WCHA members who know about this stuff. Even in western Nevada we had local saw mills 100 years ago. Our local barns are all timber framed from local ponderosa pine, incense cedar and Douglas fir, and date back to the late 1850's. That qualifies as old here. John Fremont didn't see Pyramid Lake until 1846.

Now the good lumber comes from some other state like Washington.
Algonquin logging museum

'nother day frittered away in the park, buildings were closed but exhibits arent. Its Algonquin, so its all canoe related! Behold the mighty aligator, pointer and locomotive, and a chute. Really liked the early spark arrestor on the train.:eek:
Water taxi on Opeongo lake, for a head start on your trip, 2 canoes at a time. If this wont get you there, nothing will!


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logging in maine woods

I do a fair amount of logging, when I am not guiding, not with horse, though for many reasons. My grandfather used them and as a kid I remember cutting with horse to well, most of them guys never saw a retirement because they were to worn out by 50, to live much longer. Horse logging is done half by horse half by man, I can tell you story's from guys who cut ceder for R&R ties, they would have to drag the ties out of the swamp by hand to the horses, because horses can't work in mud. Horses don't pile wood, men do (or skidders) and the wood needs to be piled to be loaded and trucked. It a nice idea, but if you need to make a pay check you need to produce wood, and your not going to do it with horses. I can tell you right now pay for cutting and yarding wood/ wood delivered to the mills is almost exactly what is was 20 years ago, bit less for some, bit more for some, depending on what it is. The cost of stumpage has gone up, and the cost of trucking has gone up, as well as operating cost, in 2000, I was only paying 65 cents a gallon for off road diesel, now its 3$. The cost of equipment is crazy 20 years ago you could buy a cable skidder for 10,000, that same skidder after 20 years of working is worth 15,000 if it has been kept up. I do not feel you could ever produce enough wood to buy a / make payments on a new cable skidder here. You go down to Bangor 20 years ago every dealer had a dozen new machines, and the company's (john deere, cat, case, tree farmer, timberjack, franklin) would finance one to anyone with a contract to cut wood, now they don't even stock a cable skidder.
Logging is on a down hill slope here in Maine. I feel it started with the CLP (certified logging professional) this added a $5000 yearly expense to most of us, when mills won't take your wood unless certified. Another one of the sounds good feels good, lets tell someone who has cut wood for 20 years how to cut wood and charge him for it, But pay him the same amount. Maine lost most of there small independent loggers because of this. Now next to none of the mills require it because they need wood. 1996 was the last year I operated on company ground, they don't want a man with a chain saw, the wanted mechanized crews. The mills and the lumber economy is going to kill the cutting industry, they won't pay more for the wood and it has gone to far to recover,no ones making enough money to re invest in equipment for the future. The skidder I run every day all last winter is a 1982, if it dies I am done, and not necessary by choice. There is a lot of small wood lots in maine 100-200 acres size, that need these type of crews to harvest the wood, and manage them for the future. There will always be some big company's with mechanized equipment, but they wont produce enough wood to keep the mills open in the long run. The days when people like myself, and farmers own a skidder and cut when other work is slow is numbered. This did produced more than half of the wood here in Maine.
As far as finding quality wood for boat building there are still mills around that do grade and separate, lest here in Maine. Your much better off looking at the small mills. Cedar has many different outlets here, from log cabin stock, fence posts and shingle mills, most ceder mills are not producing boards...but there are some and if your looking in Maine i can send you to a few. Most of the larger mills buy rough stock from smaller mills like log cabin company's buying from a mill sawing out cants for them to shape into cabin logs, these smaller mills do separate and grade boards from the sides of these cants.
I think there is plenty of good wood out there, right now, it is just a matter of knowing who has it.
2 points I missed

OK i went a bit off track I did not mean to change the subject, or hyjack your thread, but one thing I did not say and I took for granted that people would connect. Is the fact without the cutting of the woods in northern Maine, without the mills that own the timberland's, who is going to own these great lands? I am talking the Allagash river, the st.john's river country. Why are they going to own them, and will we still be able to go and enjoy them the way the timber company's let us do today? It kinda funny how lumber supply's are directly related to where we have access to paddle.
The other point I did not cover, and meant to, I do saw some of the wood I use in building my canoes, (I build square stern rib and plank, grandlakers) but for the most part, it is not feasible if you have a cedar log, with lets say 50 bd ft, and the out side is free of defects, your only going to get say 10 bd ft of clear lumber for canoe stock when you saw this log in most cases, your first board is good,on each side, but as you saw into the log you start getting into knots, or other defects. To saw enough logs to get the canoe stock for a new canoe, leaves you with a lot of low grade lumber, which is fine now and then when you have other projects that can use it, but in most cases it cheaper to just go and buy the lumber compared to the amount of logs needed to saw enough clear cedar for a canoe
Logging for boat lumber


Thanks for the long replies about logging. We appreciate hearing about the economic realities of the business from someone still in it. It sounds like logging your own lumber for canoe construction is a lot of work for the result. It is still appealing somehow though.

All the old mills in this country have closed. Even the large ones that have been here for 100 years like Truckee, CA have closed. We are very dependent on National Forest lands in the west for harvesting, and the annual allowable cut has diminished to 10 percent of what it was in 1990. I think of the hardwood and white cedar forests in the East still in private ownership and thought it might be different. Economics are working against nearly everyone in resource driven industries. My hope is that we eventually will use wood for fuel to fire electrical generation plants and make working in the woods pay better. I have seen sawlogs being run through giant chippers in the woods and it breaks my heart.

My final thought is that growing trees is carbon neutral and all those other things, especially renewable. These words are tossed around a lot. Someday soon wood will be in much greater demand than it has been lately.

ppine stands for ponderosa pine
we do have wood chip fire electric plants here now, we have the Beaver plant in Chester which has be open and closed a dozen times, some of the pulp/paper mills that have shut down have been re opened as power plants, like the mill in old town. Wood chips/biomass as it is called here is for low grade trees, and bits and pieces left over from processing the other uses for wood, the bark and slabs. The problem is the price they pay, which is lowest there is, in the wood market, and in most cases it is not feasible to truck this any distance to the mill. The chester beaver plant has this as a issues and there is 3 sawmills in the area, (less than 10 miles) and is situated on the south and west edge of some of the largest commercial forest lands in the north east. The other issue is they sell the power to the grid, and get what ever the going rate is, they are obviously not competitive with the oil and coal fired plants.
On the power side they are putting wind mills up every wheres here, at first I liked the idea, and was sold on it, But not so much now, the stetson wind project which is only 10 miles from my home and camps has become a eye sore on the horizon, it looks like a air port run way with all the red light hundreds of them. and when the sun is setting the glare off them can be unbelievable. ( you could just 2 years ago go to the top of the hill here and look over 50 miles of a sea of trees well into New Brunswick Canada. They have been rushed, they have not had to follow all of the codes and permits, you would need to just to build a camp. Now we are being told they cost more than the value of power they will produce over the expect life of the turbine, but because of all the government money (taxes you and me pay)the company's are still putting them up. I and many others are concerned when this government money runs out, that they will be abandoned, and be a big junk pile in the middle of our woods.
I know the woods is always changing, I believe and know it is a valuable renewable resource, but have many concerns. What was once manged by company's such as great northern who owned timber lands, pulp and saw mills here, and managed the woods on hundred year plans are now being managed by investment company's in a office far away who only concern is the money they make. (like selling leases for the windmills) This goes back to the other statement I made, when they don't have a market for the wood, who is going to own the land, and will we be welcome to use it like we always have. We have a incomparable opportunity here in Maine, where there are hundreds of square miles of private land streams and rivers, that any one an come to hunt fish camp or canoe on, but I am afraid that this may end in the near future.