Australasia's home for timber news and information

Program takes students from lessons to logging

Some college students in Maine are stepping outside their classrooms and back into the woods. Following the footsteps of the forest workers before them, they’re among a new wave of loggers, who are trading in axes for high tech machines. Source: CBS News

In East Millinocket, Maine, industry leaders hope these graduates can return the logging industry to its glory days.

“We are in beautiful downtown TA-R7,” says Donald Burr, the head coordinator of the Mechanized Logging Operators Programs.

TA-R7 is what the professionals call this plot of forest, in the middle of Maine, where the deep woods serve as a classroom for the state’s next generation of loggers.

“We are giving them, as students, the very foundation of what it takes to be logger,” Burr said.

Ben Tuttle is a student in the new mechanized logging program through Northern Maine Community College.

His dad is a logger – and he fell in love with the trade as a kid.  “The cool equipment and how big it was and just being in the woods.”

The logging business today is a far cry from the lumberjacks of yesteryear, and it’s at a critical turning point.

In the digital age, demand for paper has dropped dramatically and Senator Angus King says Maine’s forest industry has taken a major hit.

To keep it alive, he’s counting on a process called cross laminated timber.

Logging is now done with high-tech machinery and GPS systems, which require extra training.

“There’s a lot of acres, millions of acres, in wood – and that’s a lot of money, waiting for that next product,” says Burr.

While it’s not what it used to be, logging is still a multi-billion dollar industry in Maine with a shortage of workers.

And students here are hoping to put down roots.

Without this 12-week program, training usually takes a year and will cost companies about $100,000 to train each future logger.