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Short Features

Photo by Ned Therrien

Out of the Woods

New Hampshire's loggers tell their own story

Jeff Eames knows how to cut a tree. He knows how to carve out the open-faced notch that will pitch the tree forward, how to angle the fall to avoid surrounding trees. And he knows how to place the final strategic cut, then walk away as the crown begins to sway, moving out of danger as the tree gathers momentum and crashes to earth.

Eames also knows that the trees he leaves standing are as important as the ones he takes down, that selective cutting can actually strengthen and improve a forest. When Eames and his employees work in the woods, their goal is regeneration. Their staff forester, Eric Cole '97, helps plan each harvest, selecting which trees to cut and which to leave behind because they'll be more valuable later.

The men who work at J.C. Eames Timber in Epsom, N.H., are proud of what they do. They provide wood for homes and furniture and a host of other products, and they do it with care and concern for the health of the forest. They protect wetlands and avoid muddying streams. They re-seed clearings to prevent erosion and regenerate the forest. They consider the needs of wildlife. And when they are on a job, instead of working unidentified -- a typical practice among loggers -- they post business signs announcing their presence.

In short, Eames' approach to timber harvesting shatters the notion that cutting trees is a crime and that loggers are uneducated guys in dirty pickups who could care less about the environment. Responsible loggers hate this image. Some have learned to fight it by telling a different version of the logging story -- their own. Eames even produced a video offering clients and others a glimpse of the work he does.

"Five years ago, no logger would have thought of promoting himself that way," says Don Quigley '76, '78G, professor of forest technology at UNH's Thompson School. The seeds of change, he notes, were planted in 1993, with the formation of the New Hampshire Timber Harvesting Council (THC). Jointly sponsored by the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, the Thompson School and UNH Cooperative Extension, the THC is out to encourage responsible logging and to change public perception of what it means to be a logger.

The council got its start over early-morning coffee. Quigley clocked a lot of miles, driving around the state to visit 28 coffee shops and restaurants, talking with loggers. Much of the response was positive. Many loggers clearly agreed that there was a need for a professional network and a formal organization to represent their industry.

Continued on Page 2

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