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Make logging great again

As I walked through a wooded area the other day, I saw some beautiful, big old trees. I walked around admiring the beauty of the place, and then I looked down and saw some cute little tree sprouts. They were already standing straight, green, and even a little majestic for such a little tree. I thought about how if it were nurtured and left to grow, in years to come it would become shade for rest and refuge. This tiny sprout could become a home for birds, squirrels, opossums or even a treehouse for children to climb and play. Working for a logging company, I also thought about how it could provide shelter as wood for building homes, pulp for paper or even chips to be made into toilet paper. If you live in a home and get the privilege to use toilet paper, thank a logger!

The logging business could also be considered a farm industry. We might cut down the trees, but we also plant them. It might take some time (even a generation) before we harvest, but these trees are our future. We are more than loggers, we are “tree farmers.” Our “crops” just take a little more time to reap what we sow. But without us tree farmers, who is going to provide what we provide (think toilet paper)?

Running and maintaining a logging business has become increasingly more challenging. We are limited by quotas on what we can bring to the mills. Some mills have closed completely. The severely depressed and diminishing log markets mean that an entire valuable supply chain could be disrupted. Loggers and log trucking companies face high operating costs, our insurance is astronomical and, lately, we have seen a drastic loss of return on our investment. Logging throughout the United States is being reduced and new investments in the logging sector are extremely limited.

On July 21, 2020, bills H.R. 7690 and S. 4233 were introduced to Congress, and both were immediately sent to committee. Did you know that 90% of all bills die in committee? Languishing there with no thought, discussion or action. The logging and log trucking industry is suffering and needs the help these bills would provide.

The American Loggers Council has urged all loggers to write or call their congressmen and the president and urge them to consider logging as important as farming, and to pass the

“Loggers Relief Act.” It will allow the USDA that already oversees Forestry Services to provide grants and loans that will help companies that have seen a 10% revenue decline due to COVID-19 and have been hit hard by this pandemic. The Loggers Council has told lawmakers, “This program is intended to ensure that contractors can have the opportunity to remain in business over the next 12 months and to adjust their operations as markets begin to stabilize.”

During this pandemic, we definitely learned from the great “Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020” how important TP is to all of us. We urge you to assist us loggers, or “tree farmers,” who bring this vital resource to you to get HR 7690 and S.4233 out of committee to the House and Senate floors for a vote, have it pass and go to President Trump to sign into law. Write or call your congressman. Flood them with emails and messages imploring them to get it done. Remind them that they, too, use what we provide, and they need to help a logger, so we can keep helping you!

Kathy Hunter is the secretary at Wade T. Biggs Logging, Inc., a family-run logging business operating in Beaufort County for more than 50 years.