As We See It: Gaining Traction

June 5th, 2014

May 5, 2014

2013-2014 ALC President Brian Nelson By Brian Nelson, ALC President

The American Loggers Council (ALC) has been making trips to Washington D.C. since practically the beginning of the organization. Shortly      after the founding of the ALC it was decided to have the Spring Board of Directors Meeting held annually in Washington D.C. to give members the opportunity to visit with their elected officials and relevant agency officials on issues that impact their businesses prior to attending the board meeting.

Over the years, the meetings that ALC members have had with elected and agency officials have ranged from upbeat, positive, and productive to let’s just say ….. “Less than productive” to be kind and most anything in between. I remember a meeting we had one year with an elected official’s staffer where we must have been keeping her from something since she spent more time looking at her watch than paying attention to what we were trying to convey to her. Thankfully over the years the visits have been much more productive than that particular instance. After returning from this year’s trip to D.C. I would have to say that our meetings were of the positive and productive variety.

I believe we are making progress with our visits to D.C. in the sense that we are being asked by officials to testify before Congress on issues that affect the timber industry, we’re building relationships with Agency officials, and with elected officials and their staffs. It is becoming apparent, that when there is an issue that impacts the timber harvesting profession in this country, that the American Loggers Council is the go to organization to get a loggers perspective on said issue.

ALC Logo colorThis year’s meeting started off with a brief update on timber tax issues from Dan Sakura of NAFO followed by a briefing of the issues that ALC members would take with them on their Hill visits. Following the morning briefing ALC members made well over 100 visits to their elected and agency officials over the course of the next day and a half. I would like to thank those sponsors that made the trip to D.C. to attend and participate in Hill visits with ALC members. I found it very beneficial to have representatives from two of the largest equipment manufacturers in the world to attend Hill visits with us. As loggers we tend to get “tunnel vision” on an issue and to get the perspective of the OEM’s was very helpful not only for myself but for the staffers that we were talking with during those visits. It also gave those sponsors an opportunity to see first-hand what the ALC does on the political and legislative front for its members.

Those sponsors with attendees were: Caterpillar – Joe Allen, Chip Burroughs, and Mike Duncan;  John Deere-Kelly Granatier, Tom Trone, Craig McBeth, and Collis Jones; Southern Loggers Cooperative- Bill Jones;

In addition to Hill visits, the ALC held a session with numerous speakers discussing various topics of importance to its members.

Those speakers in attendance were: Jim Pena- USFS – discussing Farm Bill and timber sale program issues; Daniel Cassidy- USDA-discussing research and education in biobased products; Bill Imbergamo- FFRC- discussing Federal Timber Sale Program, NEPA reform, and wildfire funding; Luke Loy- USDOT- FMCSA discussing truck weight and CSA issues; Caitlin Rayman- USDOT-FHA -discussing the Truck Size and Weight Study; Tom Trone- John Deere- discussing telematics in today’s new forestry equipment.

The ALC Spring Fly In and Board of Directors Meeting was a success with a record number of members attending both the Fly In as well as the Board meeting. In addition the ALC was asked to testify on a package of four bills dealing with NEPA following the meeting. We have also gained some much needed traction on the Youth Careers in Logging issue.

While the wheels of Congress oftentimes move at a snail’s pace compared to the production that we all experience on our jobs, it is imperative that we keep pushing the process along to ensure that we in the timber harvesting industry do not become the latest species to be listed as endangered. If you or your state is not represented by the American Loggers Council at the National level, then perhaps it is time for you to consider joining the ranks. When we are all pulling together towards a common goal, there isn’t anything that cannot be accomplished.

Until next time


Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

 The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at or contact their office at 409-625-0206.


As WE See It: Still Striving

January 10th, 2014

By Danny Dructor, ALC Executive Vice President

Twenty years ago, in 1994, a small group of professional loggers took a bold step and formed an organization called the American Loggers Council.  The coalescing issue that led them to the formation of the Council was the roll-out in that same year of the Sustainable Forestry Initiatives® Program.  It would seem while others were designing programs that would have direct impacts on logging businesses, those same people and organizations forgot to ask what the loggers themselves thought about the program and its impact on loggers.  These early leaders of the American Loggers Council thought that it was time that the loggers had a national, unified voice on these issues.

A mission statement for the ALC was formed and simply states:

The American Loggers Council is a national organization representing independent loggers formed to enhance the logging profession, provide a unified voice on logging issues, and cooperate with public, industrial, and private timberland owners to further sustainable forestry practices.

One of the primary goals of the strategic plan for the ALC is to enhance the professionalism of logging.  This includes taking a proactive stance on issues of industry concern, improving relationships between mills and loggers, and promoting the perception of the industry.  For the past twenty years, the ALC has promoted logger training and education programs to not only help loggers better understand the relationship that exists between their operations and the environment, but to also help to positively influence the public’s perception of sustainable timber harvesting operations.

Unfortunately, as in any profession, there continues to be those few rogue operators who chose to ignore both statutory and voluntary regulations within the industry, yet seem to be able to deliver their products to SFI® participating mills at the same price as those who are meeting the standards.  It is hard for those who are “getting it right” to compete with those who are not even trying.  There are costs associated with the performance measures of the SFI® program, and for the most part, those costs are still being absorbed by the timber harvesting businesses themselves.

After twenty years and several SFI® program standard revisions, there is still discussion around what should be the maximum amount of wood fiber that is procured by SFI® participants that is sourced from untrained loggers.  Most logging businesses had one to two years to get into compliance with the LT&E requirements before they were told they might not be able to deliver their products.  Industry has now had twenty years to try and reach 100% compliance, yet they still are looking to include language in the standard revision process that would allow them to “strive to accept” no more than 5% of their fiber from untrained loggers.  Strive is a five letter word that give industry an out if they are not meeting the percentage of the standard.  What would happen to your business during a OSHA audit if you “strived” to get your employees trained without ever actually doing it, or you strived to meet DOT regulations while hauling overweight loads?

We feel that it is time to level the playing field.  Competing with loggers who are not in compliance with the SFI required logger training and education program, or who are not following federal and state mandated policies, yet still being offered a home for their production from an SFI® program participant (mill) is unacceptable to those getting it right.  If this process is allowed to continue, those who are operating above the laws and regulations that govern this industry will set the bar for the rest of us to compete against and not only will the sustainability of the industry falter, but so will the perception of our industry in the eyes of the public.  After twenty years of “striving,” the program participants should be getting it right.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As We See It: WHYDFML – What Have You Done For Me Lately?

December 10th, 2013

By Brian Nelson, ALC President

I’m sure most everyone has heard this phrase in some form or another during their lifetime and many have quite possibly even used it themselves. It is one of those phrases that is used all too often today in a multitude of situations but for the sake of this article it will be in reference to State, Regional, and National logging trade associations.

What are they doing for you?

In very simple terms, they are your “voice” and they represent you and other like minded individuals on a variety of topics. Our associations represent us and our interests by attending meetings, monitoring legislation and testifying before committees on our behalf -just to name a few. The saying “there is strength in numbers” is especially true when it comes to trade associations. Take any issue your association is working on and try to get the same impact on an individual basis as your association gets from one person representing its entire membership.

I once read that when times are tough one of the first budget items cut for many businesses is advertising. Actually, this is when they need advertising the most.

That same line of thinking holds true for membership dues to trade associations. When times are good -membership increases allowing associations to do more, but when membership drops due to economic downturn, the associations will not be able to offer the same level of service previously offered- and that is when it will be needed more than ever.

At a recent meeting the discussion turned to how to increase membership of our association and more specifically how to recruit that segment of the industry that doesn’t join because “they are getting the benefits anyways.” A friend summed it up by referring to those individuals as “welfare loggers”-enjoying the fruits of other’s labor. Although a bit harsh, he does make a very valid point. While there will always be those who ride the shirttails of others, I believe with the support of those individuals, the associations could accomplish even more than they would without their support.

The American Loggers Council (ALC) tries to support those who support it. While that works well in regards to our sponsors I realize that is not always the case when talking about potential members. A potential member will benefit from what ALC does just as a current member, but that is where strength in numbers comes into play. Currently ALC represents 30 states. Our goal is to represent every state that has a commercial timber harvesting industry.

The ALC has been the voice of professional loggers in this country for nearly twenty years and has accomplished many things in that time. It was formed in 1994 after the adoption of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative by the AFPA. A group of loggers decided that they needed a voice on the national level to challenge issues that impacted them. Nearly twenty years later we are still trying to enhance the logging profession by creating a more level playing field for all loggers in this country, most recently by submitting comments to the Sustainable Forestry Board on programs for logger training and education, as well as creating a “hard number” for the maximum percentage of wood fiber that can be sourced from untrained loggers by SFI program participating mills – also known as the deminimus volume.

If you are a member of a logging trade association, whether it be national, regional, or state, I thank you for your support. If not, I encourage you to do so as they are your voice for issues that impact your business. By “supporting those that support you” we will make a difference.

Wishing everyone a Blessed Holiday Season – -Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

NewPage ‘indefinitely’ idles Rumford paper machine

November 19th, 2013

By Whit Richardson, BDN Staff

RUMFORD, Maine — NewPage on Tuesday said it would “indefinitely” stop operation of one of the paper machines at its Rumford paper mill by mid-February because of tough economic conditions.

Employees at the Rumford mill — there are about 830 — received the news Tuesday morning, according to Anthony Lyons, a mill spokesman….

Click to read more from the: Bangor Daily News

As WE See It: Addressing the Logging Capacity Issue

November 6th, 2013

By ALC Presidnet Brian Nelson

The term logging capacity appears to be the latest buzz word in our industry. There has been considerable discussion on the subject from mills to timberland owners to loggers and most everyone in between. While I admit that the issue is serious to the long term sustainability of the timber industry, the reasons for the shortage are as varied as the potential solutions being offered up. To complicate things even further, the reasons and potential solutions are generally quite different depending on which segment of the industry one is speaking to.

Numerous articles have been written dealing with the many facets of the logging capacity shortage but the one I’d like to touch on is labor. For a business to succeed it has to have an experienced and stable workforce among other things. For a business to continue for generations it needs an experienced management team that can take over when the current owner decides to call it quits.

Like many in this industry my brother and I got started at a very early age by following dad to the woods on weekends and summer vacations. We learned to run each machine by “getting in and pulling levers to see what they do” as our dad would always tell us. We learned to run the operation by following in his footsteps, asking a lot of questions, and learning from our mistakes.

While it hasn’t always been easy there is nothing that I would rather be doing. Logging is all I’ve ever done and all I’ve ever wanted to do. With each passing year we get older and closer to calling it quits and the need for someone to take over our operations increases. The question is “Who is that someone and where are they to get the experience that is needed to take over a logging business?” For many the answer could very well be our children just as many of us learned and took over from our parents.

Logging, much like farming, is a generational industry where many of the businesses are family owned and operated and are past down from generation to generation. The two are also very similar in the sense that you are either born into it or are married into it. The number of young people getting into the industry without any family history in logging is few and far between and with good reason.

While many of us started learning the ropes at a young age in the past, today that is not possible or should I say it is not legal per Federal Child Labor Laws. Logging is considered a hazardous occupation and therefore no one under the age of eighteen may be employed in it.

I understand the reason for the law is to protect the young and inexperienced and I surely wouldn’t want to see anyone get injured whether it is one of my kids or someone else but I believe the law is a bit antiquated. The reason I say that is that I feel it was written in the days when hand falling and bucking with chainsaws were the norm, but today, at least in the Lake States Region, chainsaws are the exception not the rule. Mechanization has greatly improved safety over the years and many of today’s modern machines are safer to operate than some of the jobs our kids are allowed to do.

The American Loggers Council (ALC) has been working on this issue for a number of years now with members of Congress and the Department of Labor. We have been trying to get the same exemption afforded our counterparts in agriculture for our immediate family members between the ages of 16 and 18. Today’s modern logging operations are labor intensive, highly mechanized and technical careers that require on-the-ground training in order to train the next generation to be proficient and productive.

This exemption would ensure that the next generation of mechanical timber harvesters can gain the needed on-the-ground training and experience under the close supervision of their parents who have a vested interest in their children’s safety and in passing down the profession to the next generation of timber harvesters.

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

If I wanted American to fail

November 5th, 2013


October 23rd, 2013


Click Link Below for Long Notice or the logo at left to visit the MTA’s

Construction Contracts Page

MTA: 2013.13 Roadside Clearing Notice to Contractors

Nathaniel F. Carll

Purchasing Manager

Maine Turnpike Authority

2360 Congress Street

Portland, ME 04102

Phone: (207)482-8115

Fax:   (207)871-7739


As WE See It: Thank You

October 7th, 2013

By Brian Nelson, ALC President

As I look back on the events of the 19th Annual American Loggers Council Meeting recently held at the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana, I can’t help but make a comparison between it and the government shutdown debacle that is currently going on.

The ALC has accomplished many things over the past 19 years thanks in large part to the dedication of some of the finest loggers this country has to offer. We as loggers are notoriously independent, but to see so many different personalities come together from all corners of this great country to try and make this industry better for everyone is truly inspiring and goes to show the character that we have in this industry. Our elected officials in Washington D.C. could learn a lesson or two from those in our industry on how to resolve issues for the greater good of all, not just themselves or their party.

Regardless of one’s political views I can’t imagine anyone believes that all the arguing and political jockeying is good for the country as a whole. If nothing else, just think of how our Veterans, who risked their lives to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy, feel when they are turned away from THEIR memorials.  That is just wrong in every sense of the word!!!!!!!!!!

I will get off my soap box now and get back to the issue at hand

I have set some goals for my term as President of the ALC as is customary with each year’s incoming president.

1.      To continue working on the issues that affect all of our businesses such as Clean Water Act legislation, Federal Forest management or lack there of, and overreaching governmental regulations to name a few.

2.     To work on the Child Labor Laws issue to try and get the same exemption for our immediate family members that our counterparts in agriculture are afforded. With the rising age of loggers in this country we need to start training the next generation of loggers to take over our businesses or logging as we know it will fail to exist.

3.     To see more of the ALC sponsors involved on committees because many of the issues that affect our businesses also affect theirs, either directly or indirectly, and their input is valued.

4.     To do a better job of improving our image and getting our message out to those who don’t understand our industry. We must educate the policy makers and the general public on what we do and the benefits of it. If we don’t someone else surely will and their version likely won’t be favorable to us. We must be ambassadors for our industry-because if we don’t who will?

5.    To address the issue of logging capacity. While there has been a lot of discussion on this subject lately I don’t believe there has been any effort to get all parties involved in the supply chain together to start the dialogue. I realize there is no simple answer to this but we must start somewhere.

I am honored and humbled to be named the 20th President of the American Loggers Council and I will do everything I can to represent the professional timber harvesters of this great country. I’m sure there will be many challenges along the way but with the support I’ve been shown so far I’m sure we will prevail.

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US.  For more information, visit their web site at or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As WE See It: The “Invisible” Workforce

September 3rd, 2013

“Save for encountering a logging truck on a highway, most Americans have no interaction with the industry that supplies most of the building products, paper and packaging materials they consume daily.  That’s a shame because loggers – America’s “invisible” workforce – make significant contributions to the nation’s economic and environmental well-being.” – Jim Petersen – Evergreen Foundation

It is 5:00 AM in any given time zone across these United States. While many are hitting the snooze alarm, or enjoying their first cup of coffee, a dedicated group of professionals is already on the job. They are America’s loggers, harvesters of the timber that will eventually make its way into every American home in the form of building materials, the morning newspaper, paper towels, an egg carton, cereal box or those two time-honored morning rituals: brushing teeth or, well, you know.

Thousands of everyday products – including many pharmaceuticals – contain wood in one processed form or another. Not one of these products would ever reach your home were it not for loggers, the first link in an impressive supply chain that restocks your pantry, bedroom, bathroom, nursery, workshop and kitchen cupboards every time you visit a store that sells groceries, pharmaceuticals, furniture, clothing or building materials.

About 100,000 men and women are employed in logging and forestry operations in America’s timbered regions: the West, Southeast, Great Lakes and Northeast. Although tree species and products vary from region to region, the job does not. Logging, replanting and tree management are all parts of an unending cycle that insures that our nation will never run out of trees and consumers will never run out of the products they consume in such abundance.

The nation’s logging and forestry payroll tops $3 billion – is by far the largest “green” job pool we have in our country. Add in pulp and paper manufacturers, saw mills that process lumber and companies that manufacture engineered panels, sheeting, trusses and biomass for energy and you have an industry that annually generates 4.5 percent of total U.S. manufacturing GDP [gross domestic product]. This same technologically advanced industry is among the Top 10 manufacturers in 47 states.

Every day, each of Earth’s 5.4 billion inhabitants consumes, on average, the equivalent of a four-pound block of wood. But the average American uses 3.5 times this amount – about 14 pounds, the weight of a full grocery bag. About 91 percent of this wood comes from America’s privately owned managed forests. State and Indian-owned forests contribute another 6 percent and the nation’s federally-owned forests, which are no longer managed for timber, contribute a scant two percent.

Thanks to private capital and advancements in the forest sciences the United States has 20 percent more forest than it did when our nation first celebrated Earth Day in 1970 – and fully two-thirds as much forestland as it had when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker that reads, “For America’s Foresters Every Day is Earth Day.”

More than 56 percent of U.S. forests are privately owned, much of it by families who manage their lands to create or maintain wildlife habitat. Increasingly, these lands are certified as being sustainably managed by third-party organizations that grade management quality on site. Small wonder then that between the years 2000 and 2005 our nation’s forested land base grew by two million acres.

Long before logging begins, the next tree planting has been planned and budgeted. Every day, decisions are made on-the-ground by trained professionals – foresters and loggers alike – whose livelihoods and reputations turn on their ability to sustainably manage timber and deliver logs to wood processors who transform the nation’s forest abundance into thousands of products that add to the comfort and safety of your family’s daily life. Always remember that long before the logging begins, the next tree planting will occur in a matter of months, just as soon as the ground is prepared for a new crop of seedlings.

I invite you to get to know America’s loggers – perhaps for the first time in your life. I believe that you will enjoy their underappreciated story as much as they enjoy serving so many of your family’s needs.

Jim Petersen is a co-founder of the non-profit Evergreen Foundation, and publisher of Evergreen, the Foundation’s periodic journal. The Foundation was established in Medford, Oregon in 1986 to help advance public understanding and support for science based forestry and forest policy. For more information, visit their web site at .

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

Maine ACF’s Amendment to Forest Operations Notifications

August 6th, 2013

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Amendment to Forest Operations Notifications

CLICK HERE for Link to new form


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