2010 Logger of the Year’s work is “light on the land”

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JEFFERSON CITY–Missouri loggers who take care of their customers, the trees they harvest and the forest where those trees grow get a reputation … for excellence.

Each year, a few of Missouri’s best loggers vie for their vocation’s highest honor. The first hurdle a potential logger of the year must clear is receiving a nomination from a professional forester. This year’s logger of the year, Matt L’Heureux, of Patterson, received nominations from Forestry District Supervisor Jason Jensen and from the Conservation Department’s Madison and Wayne county Forestry Division work teams.

Receiving three nominations was impressive, but loggers of the year selections are based on performance in several aspects of logging. The narratives that accompanied L’Heureux’s nominations not only documented his performance. They painted a picture of a professional for whom sustainable forestry is a personal core value.

“It is an eye-opener to see someone able to maintain normal production with a large grapple skidder and do very little damage to the residual stand,” said Resource Forester Mark Pelton.

Resource Forester Becky Fletcher noted L’Heureux’s careful observance of forestry best-management practices, even under the most difficult conditions. As an example, she pointed to his work on a salvage timber sale at Amidon Conservation Area. Trees knocked down by high winds made work nearly impossible in some areas, but L’Heureux was up to the challenge.

“Matt is very light on the land,” said Fletcher. “He shuts himself down during wet times and has a system for the freeze/thaw cycle. He gets to the site early in the morning and does his skidding (moving logs around) until the ground starts to thaw in the sun. Then he parks the skidder, and he and his crew cut trees with their chainsaws for the rest of the day. He is very careful about ruts and keeping the roads and skid trails in good condition. One of the roads is now in better condition than when he started.”

Forestry District Supervisor Jason Jensen expressed admiration for L’Heureux’s skill with a chainsaw.

“He truly understands that how the trees are felled has a direct impact on the amount of residual damage resulting from skidding,” he said.

Logger of the Year Awards recipients receive framed certificates from the Conservation Department and a Stihl chainsaw donated by Crader Distributing in Marble Hill. Candidates for the Logger of the Year Award must have completed the Professional Timber Harvester’s Training Program.

For information about past award recipients, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation, 2901 West Truman Blvd. Jefferson City, MO 65102, 573-522-4115 Ext. 3304 or visit http://bit.ly/cFAf97.

-Jim Low-