........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

A day in the life
of a logging camp manager

....“When it’s blowing or snowing or the heavy rains are on I like to get up a little earlier than normal–about 4:30 and jump in the pickup for a look-see around the claim. No use sending a crew out to work in that stuff unless you know yourself just what it’s going to be like.”
....“I talk to them straight forward–no use beating around the bush. If some guy isn’t puttin’ out for the money he’s making then I let him know I know it. That way, we understand each other.”
....“I like giving people authority, don’t believe in hanging on their necks. Hell, we’ve got some damn good men here and if I didn’t let them figure out the answers for themselves, I’d be ‘round the bend trying to keep this place producing. I keep my eyes open, and I listen, and I’m available.”
....So, boys and girls of the forest around us, you don’t want to grow up to be another Bobby Orr––you want to be a logging camp manager! There is a difference you know. Bobby gets the glory, the headlines, the champagne bath. The camp manager gets hell from all sides, no headlines and a bottle of beer at night as he sits and wonders what the devil you’ve got to do to make some days go right.
....Superstar?–No way! Just a man with common sense, able to sort out union problems, production forecasts, tour the V.I.P’s around when you’d rather be out at side five. Sort out the environmental issues with forest rangers, fisheries officers, fish and wildlife people, health officers, pollu-tion control men and an assortment of good guys and kooks, all concerned
with what your camp is doing. Oh yes, then there’s the people. They have problems, oh do they have problems! Keep the eyes open – and listen.
....Visitors – equipment salesmen, hun-ters, you name it – the logging camp manager gets them. The old “bull of the woods” boss is a thing of the past. Instead we find a combination of dip-lomat, referee, psychiatrist and public relations man. Oh yes – he still must have knowledge of logging and its by-products – roadbuilding, mechanical know-how, booming, forestry and engineering. He must keep up with the newest methods, for the cost of logging and of running a camp are enormous today.
....Inter-company memo from head office: “Your roads building cost for last month is not in line with your forecast budget of last year – what’s wrong?” What’s wrong! Oh nothing’s wrong except they took away to another camp the best Cat he had, and the rock drilling contractor wants more money, and his road foreman was promoted to foreman of another camp, and the recent big winds meant he had to divert his road crew to cleaning up some slides, and a grade shovel is in the shop for major repairs, and his wife is mad at him, and he’s got a head-ache. Oh, nothing’s wrong – except he’d like to get his hands on the guy in head office!
....Then there’s the new type of problem. Women want to work in the woods. “And if you don’t give me a chance to prove I’m as good as a man, I’ll go to the women’s rights people.” Some jobs they can do–some gals can
do just about any job – drive a log truck, run a dozer boat, work in the landings. Burt not all gals – just like not all guys. The stamina must be there for logging jobs in general require stamina if not strength. It’s a worrisome issue for the manager. Walk the tightrope chap – they’re watching you.
....Safety, in an industry where 50 loggers die every year from on-the-job accidents, the logging camp manager is always conscious of his responsibility toward safe production.
....The pickup stops, he leans out the window and speaks to the side fore-man. “I’ve been here for half an hour and I haven’t heard a power-saw running up in that small group of trees some faller is working on. You better walk over that way and holler to him and see if he’s O.K.
....He’s standing at a landing and talking to the road foreman. “I see you stopped the grade shovel from digging up ahead there. What’s the matter?”
....“Well, that hillside is pretty steep and the timber wasn’t felled for right-of-way, it was just felled for logging. As a result there’s long stuff and some big ones not bucked, and if that shovel keeps digging along the bottom of the hill, he’s going to have the whole god-damned hillside fall in on him. I think we better ballast up to him and move a machine in there to yard out some of those logs first before we let him dig any more road.”

....“Way to go man. Play it safe.”

....The above, just two instances of keeping the eyes open and listening.

British Columbia Lumberman, April, 1976

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You don’t need any safety slogans or banners – just some common sense and some side-rods and foremen around who know the score. That’s what safety is really about in the woods. Good, plain, thinking sense. Team work they call it on Hockey Night In Canada–safe production they call it in the woods. Same thing, only the stakes are much higher in the bush. The stakes? People’s lives!
....“Sure the young fellows come and go. Nothing to get too excited about. Hell, when I was young I wanted to see the country, too. Some camps are good–some aren’t. Maybe you try a few before you settle down for a little while. There’s nothing glamorous about being a logger. The work can be dirty, dangerous, and sometimes dull. I don’t blame young guys for movin’ on. Just as long as I get replacements from the hiring agency.
....“Come on, jump in the pickup and I’ll take you out to the south end–we’ve got a wall of rock out there that we’re drilling through that looks like the Fraser Canyon. A 500-foot cutway high up – and a salmon river way down below. We’ve got to hold every piece of right-of-way wood and all the blasted rock up there. If any of it falls down into the river, we’ve had it.”
....You look at the cut and the drill rig and the big backhoe carefully loading the debris into big gravel trucks. Not a pinch gets away. A real professional job, being done by men who know their stuff. Good planning, good execution.
....The cookhouse serves about 100 men–neat, clean, long tables with benches. It’s cafeteria style–as most of them are today. Good grub and f lots of it. It’s lunch and some of the crew and staff are having lunch and talking shop, hockey and life.
....“See that old fellow over there. He used to be a bullcook in the camp. Nice old guy. Had nowhere to go when he retired so he’s got a little shack down near the beach. He walks up to the cookhouse each day and peels the potatoes for dinner. Hell, we got a potato machine but the old guy figures he should do a little for his board, so he peels ‘em. That way there’s still some meaning to life for him. Nice old guy.”
....Logging camp managers of the big coastal camps in B.C. – a good job, sure. Sometimes a bit of a lonesome job because you’re the guy way out on a limb and you have to puzzle through a few answers all on your own. Action? There’s lots of that in a multitude of directions. It can lead on to different things–maybe your own camp some day. Maybe up the ladder into head office some day (heaven forbid!) Maybe hanging in there because you like what you’re doing and you want to keep doing it. Maybe

that retirement day is not too far away and you can look back on some great guys and great days–and that piece of land with a house on it looks pretty good in the near future.
....The men who do this job of camp manager–and those who have done it in the past, have earned their bread. I’ve known a great many of them and without sounding corny, they’ve contributed one hell of a lot to this forest around us. A few names like Bruce King, Bill Ewing, the late Zip Lenno, the Beise brothers Don and


Keith, Jack Vettleson, Fred Walker,Pat Schreiber, Mike Poje, Vern Roberts, Ernie Venus–just to name a few, and there’s lots more. If there is one quality these men have in common it would have to be stamina. And that’s what the job has always demanded. Nice going, chaps. Have a nice day, Fred, and –

Keep out of the bight,


British Columbia Lumberman, March, 1976