August 05, 2004

SIUC, association offer safety courses for loggers

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Felling a tree in your backyard is dangerous. Felling much larger trees in wooded areas is no less hazardous for even experienced loggers.

That's why the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Forestry Department and the Illinois Wood Products Association are sponsoring professional logging courses in three separate areas of the state. The five-part course, "The Game of Logging," focuses on safety training for loggers and woodlands stewardship.

On Monday, Aug. 9, six class members from the courses taught in Carbondale will hone their felling techniques in a wooded area east of Herrin. The goal of the program is to sharpen the skills of loggers, said Lee Rife, director of member services for the Illinois Wood Products Association, which is headquartered in SIUC's Forestry Department.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the Aug. 9 session where loggers work on their tree-felling techniques. Tree felling should begin about 12:30 p.m., and interviews with participants will be available. Wear clothing appropriate for walking through wooded areas. Directions to the logging site east of Herrin are below. For more information, contact Lee Rife of the Illinois Wood Products Association at 217/529-2886, or SIUC Forestry Department Chair John E. Phelps at 618/453-7464.

Each participant will fell a tree. The day will also consist of calculating tree lean limits, advanced cutting and wedging techniques on leaning trees, and bucking and limbing methods.

"Logging is dangerous work because you have several thousand pounds of tree crashing down," said Rife. "If you are off just a little bit Š"

The five-part course, which began last month with classes in both Carbondale and Effingham, consists of four levels of hands-on timber harvesting that emphasize safety, technique and proper use of logging tools. Each outdoor session lasts one day and runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., rain or shine.

The course instructor, Joe Glenn, is a professional logger from Piedmont, Mo. Glenn trained for several years under Soren Ericksson, who developed the "Game of Logging," in Scandanavia.

The workshop gives loggers additional training and practice and a chance to learn new techniques, said John E. Phelps, who chairs SIUC's forestry department. A number of the six students in the Carbondale class currently work for MeadWestvaco Corp., which has an office in Wickliffe, Ky.

"It gives the logger a higher degree of control over where a tree is going to fall," Phelps said. "It is particularly problematic with leaning trees; they can be dangerous. If you do have some degree of control and knowledge about where they are going to fall you can take safe measures to protect yourself and other people around you."

Felling trees in an efficient harvest layout limits damage done to other standing trees, and makes it is easier to skid fallen trees out of the woods, said Phelps.

A similar class is scheduled Aug. 10 in the Effingham area. Two more classes that cover advanced felling and forest management are set in Carbondale and Effingham later this month. Five classes are scheduled in November and December for the Peoria area.

The workshop is part of a $29,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service aimed at providing technical assistance to rural forest-product businesses.

Shaping cooperative ventures is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the long-range development plan that guides the University to its 150th anniversary in 2019.

(DIRECTIONS TO THE LOGGING SITE: Take Illinois 148 through Herrin to the Freeman Spur Road at the old WJPF studios. Turn right onto the Freeman Spur Road and continue east on the Chittyville Blacktop -- Do not curve north to Freeman Spur. Continue east on the Chittyville Blacktop until you cross a set of railroad tracks. After crossing the tracks, turn left -- north -- onto Stiritz Road. Go about one mile north and continue straight off the road into a wooded, dirt road area.)