Well-Managed Forests Are Logged

Shay locomotive on the Haul Road in the 1940s

Shay locomotive on the Haul Road in the 1940s

Cyclists owe a debt of gratitude to the logging industry. Most, if not all, of the roads here were built in the name of logging.

In 2000 a lawsuit brought by Redwood Empire led to a court decision that Summit Road is a public road. It was another victory for cyclists too. I’ve ridden the road many times, even though landowners who use the road claimed it was theirs.

There’s not much logging going on in the Santa Cruz Mountains these days, and you can bet the tree huggers couldn’t be happier. I enjoy pristine forests as much as the next outdoors lover, but let’s not be so quick to condemn logging.

Done responsibly, it’s an integral part of sound forest management. Selectively logged forests often have healthier trees than unmanaged forests. Some uncut forests become fire hazards. Trees can grow as thin as toothpicks.

Logging practices today are a far cry more responsible than clear-cutting. During my rides over the past 29 years I’ve seen plenty of logging. It’s hard to see though. Loggers are restricted to cutting only so many trees an acre, among many other restrictions.

Big Creek and Redtree Properties
One of the most responsible logging companies, and one of the few remaining in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is Big Creek Lumber in Davenport. The McCrary family has owned the business since 1946. Their responsible logging practices have been written about in The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Frank McCrary, the current owner, takes an interest in the land. After all, he and his family live there. He has been active in building trails and one in Big Basin State Park has his namesake — McCrary Ridge Trail.

Another responsible logging company is Redtree Properties. Their forest management practices have been certified by SmartWood, which is a part of the Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit conservation organization.

They actively log the area between Portola State Park and Waterman Gap at Highway 9. It’s some of the most beautiful forest anywhere in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and home to the historic Haul Road, which follows Pescadero Creek from Highway 9 to Pescadero Road.

Next time you see a logging truck go by, give a wave.

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