Forest Management

Harvest Operations

Harvest Layout
SFMA Staff discuss harvest
layout with contractor

Silvicultural systems often require regular timber harvesting activity. Most harvesting in the SFMA is done with mechanized equipment. The operators work through a stand based on the silvicultural prescription provided by SFMA staff. Sophisticated machines do the hard and dangerous work of cutting and hauling trees to roadside landings where products are loaded on trucks and hauled to market. While the equipment separates the operators from the physical task of harvesting trees, their skill and attention to detail is essential to achieving management goals and minimizing impacts of harvesting on the stand and the ecosystem. The SFMA is fortunate to have extremely skilled and dedicated crews who are committed to the goals and standards of the SFMA management program.

Map display from GSP enabled tablet
(figure 1) Map display from GSP enabled tablet
computer inside processor

Most of the harvesting in the SFMA is conducted with a “cut-to-length” equipment system that consists of two types of equipment. A machine called a “processor”(link to harvest video) cuts the tree, removes the limbs using a set of knives on the cutting head, and then cuts the tree into specific lengths based on highest grade product the tree contains. Recently a new GPS navigation system has been installed in the processor that allows the operator to have a large scale color map showing the equipment location in relation to operational layout and management features (figure 1). The logs piled at the side of the processor trail are hauled to the roadside log landing by a machine known as a “forwarder.” The forwarder uses a long boom arm with grapple head to load logs into a bunk on the back of the machine. Once on the roadside the wood is carefully sorted into different piles based on the product type and final market destination.

Processor at Work
Processor at Work

The piles of logs at the road are then loaded onto large tractor trailer trucks. Some of these trucks are much larger than normal highway trucks as the road network from the SFMA to some of the mill locations is entirely private and higher than normal truck weight limits are permitted. The wood is then hauled to a variety of mills and concentration yards, some destinations are over 100 miles from the point of origin in the SFMA.

Harvest crews and SFMA staff are housed at field camps in the SFMA during the week. These camps provide a level of comfort not afforded to the loggers and foresters who worked in the Maine woods a century ago. These camps have running water, solar and diesel power, and satellite internet.

Road Maintenance Operations

Grading on Forest Management Roads
Grading on Forest Management Road

An extensive network of over 60 miles of forest a management roads require constant attention. These dirt roads must be graded to make them passable by trucks and to improve road drainage and longevity. Culverts and roadside ditches also require attention from time to time. This work is conducted by outside contractors using heavy equipment like excavators and bulldozers. SFMA staff have worked to map and assess all the culverts in the SFMA. This is an on-going project but is extremely helpful in planning and budgeting for maintenance activities.