A well-planned timber harvest can leave the forest looking like it wasn’t harvested at all and make your next outdoor recreational activity in Montana’s forests, whether hiking, mountain biking, camping, hunting, birdwatching, or photography, a more enjoyable and safe experience.
One of the ways in which timber harvesting enhances outdoor recreation is by providing access to areas of Montana’s backcountry that were previously difficult to reach through the creation of access roads to remote job sites. These roads also provide vital access for firefighters fighting wildfires. (Click here to learn more ways timber harvesting can enhance recreation.)
If you are planning to recreate in areas where active timber harvesting is underway this summer, there are some tips you should remember:
Active timber harvesting site – Do not enter.
If you come upon an active site where timber harvesters are working, stay completely clear of the area.
Workers are not expecting you to be there and are not watching out for you. They are concentrating on their tasks, operating large, high-tech equipment, and watching out for hazards.
“As loggers use their tools and equipment, they deal with massive weights and irresistible momentum of falling, rolling, and sliding trees and logs. The hazards are more acute when dangerous environmental conditions are factored in, such as uneven, unstable, or rough terrain; and inclement weather, including rain, snow, lightning, winds, and extreme cold.” (US Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration: https://www.osha.gov/logging)
Also, workers will not be able to hear you due to the loud equipment and earplugs they wear to protect from hearing loss.
To enter a timber harvesting site, OSHA requires, at a minimum, hard hats, eye protection, hearing protection, and foot protection.
Even if the timber harvesting site is not active, do not enter!
There are many hazards on a job site, even when timber harvesters are not actively working, including:
· Overhead hazards such as dead limbs, lodged trees, and logging equipment.
· Falling, rolling, and sliding trees and log.
· Logs that are not secured or stable and are not safe to climb or walk on.
· Uneven and rough terrain covered in debris.
· No clear paths on which to travel.
Timber harvesting access roads – Watch, listen, and make room for trucks and equipment.
When traveling on an active timber harvesting site access road, be aware of your surroundings, listen, and watch for logging equipment and trucks. If you meet logging equipment traveling on the road, move off the road, and allow for maximum passing space.
Wearing bright-colored clothing will also help you to be more easily seen, and if traveling in darker conditions, such as during bad weather or at dawn or dusk, it is advised that you wear reflective clothing and carry a light source.
Timber harvesters want you to enjoy Montana’s backcountry. These locations can be enjoyed all the more when safety measures are respected.
Montana timber harvesters are dedicated stewards of our state’s forests. They are committed to responsible forest management practices to ensure generations of healthy, beautiful forests for future Montanans.