AmericanFarm.com

Moore puts Maryland on map with regional logging honor

By JONATHAN CRIBBS
Staff Writer

ELLENDALE, Del. (March 31, 2015) — Sitting in a pick-up truck across the street, Eddie Moore watched one morning earlier this month as a giant grapple operated by one of his employees shredded thick branches off 30-foot tree trunks like it was husking ears or corn before dumping them into a pile.
He’d just been named 2015’s outstanding logger in the southeastern United States the week before, an honor typically bestowed upon the owners of large logging companies in timber-heavy states like the Carolinas and Georgia — not the Eastern Shore of Maryland where awards tend to follow men with exceptional corn yields.
“The Carolina boys weren’t happy,” he said, chuckling.
The award was given by the Forest Resources Association, a forestry trade organization based in Washington, D.C. Moore, a Willards, Md., logger who owns Forest Friendly Logging, works primarily off contracts to thin two Maryland state forests on the Shore, he said.
On this morning, he was thinning a small, private Delaware tract of forest after thawing snow made his state forest work too wet.
“Supposedly it improves the health of the forest,” he said about thinning where loggers remove individual trees from a forest to give existing, dominant trees more space.
It’s done for a range of reasons. Sometimes it’s to create larger, more valuable timber for better harvest years down the road.
Sometimes it’s to encourage and improve wildlife habitats.
It’s used often on the West Coast to lower the risk of devastating forest fires. But it’s considered an important aspect of forestry management.
A forest will “naturally kill itself off, but it takes 20 or 30 years,” Moore said. “So in a sense we’re playing Mother Nature.”
Moore said he’s a third-generation logger with 42 years on the job. His grandfather first began logging in the Willards area with little more than a cross-cut saw and an ax.
Forest Friendly Logging has five employees, tree cutters and other heavy equipment that can down eight to 10 tractor trailer loads of timber a day.
But to take the association’s regional award, Moore had to show he excelled at areas other than production, said Rick Meyer, the association’s regional manager.
While visiting a job site, the association wanted to make sure Moore’s outfit showed good environmental sensitivity and utilized best management practices.
He applauded Moore’s use of detailed GPS technology. Moore often gets detailed maps of the forest he works, including the locations landmarks such as cemeteries and other land-related sensitivities, including soil stability and wetness.
“It helps (his employees) to see the big picture while they’re out there harvesting,” Meyer said. “His use of technology is very good.”
Moore is one of only two Maryland loggers to win the southeastern region award in the roughly 20 years Meyer has worked with the association, Meyer said.
“The competition is pretty tough when competing with loggers out of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia,” he said.
Moore partially credits his reputation to the tightness of his crew, which has suffered just one work-related safety incident in 15 years. It’s typically hard to keep a crew together that long, but he said his team has 200 to 300 combined years of logging experience.
“They’re employees, but they’re almost like a family,” he said.
His business also has key “green” certifications, which are important to many corporations that only purchase wood products that have been green certified, he said.
Much of the wood he harvests is turned into products used on the Shore, including poultry litter and garden and building products, including mulch.
Before he reached the regional competition, however, Moore had to best local competition. He was named Maryland Logger of the Year for 2014 by the MD/DE Master Logger Steering Committee and the Maryland Forests Association.
“He was our top pick,” said Bill Cheesman, a fellow logger who served on the state award selection committee. “We just thought he was doing a better job. The equipment was in better shape. A lot of the waste was cleaned up after he left.”
Moore said he sees Shore forestry as an integrated piece of the larger agricultural economy. The poultry industry, for instance, feeds quite a bit of his business. They face challenges together.
“One supports the other,” he said. “A lot of times, just like farming, (forestry is) a father-son-type thing. A lot of stuff is passed down.”