Most years, the Pacific Logging Congress has its annual conference in some travel destination like Hawaii or San Diego.
But once every four years the organization holds a Live In-Woods Conference out in the forest where exhibitors can demonstrate cutting-edge equipment in a variety of settings. This week Oregon State University’s research forest near Adair Village hosted the event, the first time it’s ever been in Benton County.
Jeff Wimer, an OSU instructor and the Pacific Logging Congress’ 2018 president, said the event included nine live demonstrations and 35 static displays. The event was held Thursday through Saturday, with the first two days being oriented towards professionals. On the final day was open to the public.
“It’s an opportunity to educate the public, loggers and officials like county commissioners,” he said.
Wimer said much of the event’s focus is on safety and new technology that makes logging safer. Many of the demonstrations were of heavy machinery that can be used in logging.
“You get a guy in a machine he’s 10 times safer than on the ground,” Wimer said.
Organizers estimate the event drew more than 2,000 visitors. Around 600 students from more than 30 schools, including those in Scio, Sweet Home and Philomath, also attended the event.
Wimer said one of the requirements for the site of the conference is that it include a variety of terrain types and forest densities so that different types of logging could be demonstrated.
“When we are putting this on the challenge is we have over 450 research projects going on in this forest, so finding a spot that doesn’t interfere with that (takes time).”
Wimer said it also takes weeks to prepare the site and move in equipment with the assistance of the event's more than 100 volunteers.
Tom Cook, a Philomath resident who owns R & T logging, attended the event with his son and grandson.
“I enjoy it. It’s nice to get out and see new machinery,” he said.
Cook said he was impressed by some of the tethering systems used to allow heavy logging machines to operate on steep slopes. However, he said he didn’t think he was ready to invest in any of the systems yet himself.
Cook, who also attended the Live In-Woods conference in Clatskanie in 2010, added that he hoped members of the public who attended got an understanding of just how complex logging can be.
“I hope they get an appreciation for what it takes to make things work,” he said. “It takes a lot of planning. You have to walk everything over and make a plan.”