Taylor takes ALC post
Winn logger sets goals for presidency

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

Travis Taylor of Winnfield officially took office for a one year term as President of the American Logging Council (ALC)on October 6 at the annual convention of the ALC held in Coeu 'd Alene, Idaho. Taylor is the first logger from Louisiana to hold this position. The 2013 ALC annual convention will be held in Central Louisiana.

"It's an honor that I don't take lightly to serve as President of the ALC," Taylor told the Piney Woods Journal, "but with the honor, I know comes a lot of responsibility. The logging industry not only here in the piney woods but nationwide has been in a tailspin for many years," Taylor pointed out. "During the big building boom of the late 1990's and early 2000's, a large number of loggers and mills went out of business because of imported lumber. So a huge financial strain has been on the logging industry for more than a decade," Taylor noted.

In assuming the ALC presidency, Taylor made these remarks:
"When the housing industry collapsed five years ago, that threw the timber industry into a crisis mode. Three things have happened during the last decade for the logging industry, none of which are good. First the logging force across the US has shrunk dramatically. Secondly, the logging force has gotten appreciably older, and thirdly, and probably most devastating is that few if any young people are coming into the logging force," Taylor added.

One of my goals this year as president of the ALC is to find a way to encourage more young people to come into the logging industry. One of the ways to do this is to establish training schools for entry level positions such as equipment operators, skidder drivers, loader operators, and shear operators. An operator of logging equipment has a nice work environment.

The cabs of the skidders, loaders and shears are all air conditioned with a radio, and most things you do are computer controlled. The pay for logging equipment operators is very competitive, in fact on the higher end of the pay scale. I think that the forest and logging industry have been so isolated over the years that the general public has no idea of the job opportunities available in our industry. A project that we are currently working on here in Central Louisiana, which we hope will become a model for timber producing states, is a logging equipment operator training school.

We have the Vo-Tech school system in Louisiana on board with us. Each of these graduates from our proposed operator training school should have a job in the logging industry waiting for them upon graduation. Our goal is to get our first training school in central Louisiana up and running by March of next year. We believe that this is a for sure way to get new and younger people into the logging industry.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) by the American Forest and Paper Association in 1994, it was clear that American Loggers needed a strong, consistent presence in order to impact issues on a national level, leading to organization of the American Logging Association.

The recent ALC convention in Coeur d'Alene Idaho was the organizations' 18th annual convention. The logging industry has proven over the last 20 years its capability to embrace and sustain change and new ways of doing business. Our Best Management Program and Logger Continuing Education Program that is part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative has proven to be huge success.

We have met many other challenges in the last 20 years including the workman's compensation crisis by establishing a number of Self-Insured Insurance Funds around the country. I have found that when Loggers work together in a dedicated manner, that we can accomplish anything that we need to. That is one of my goals, to get more loggers involved in the American Logging Council and working together.

The ALC represents loggers from 30 timber producing states. The immediate past president of the ALC is Steve Sherich of Idaho who hosted the October 2012 meeting in Coeur d'Alene. Two years ago, Matt Jensen, who has written several articles for the Piney Woods Journal was president and hosted the 17th annual ALC convention in northern Wisconsin. Prior to becoming an officer in the ALC, Taylor was a member of its Board of Directors.

The new 1st Vice-President of the ALC is Brian Nelson of Michigan. The second vice president of the ALC this year is Myles Anderson of California. Louisiana also has two representatives on the current Board of Directors of the ALC, Allen Lang of Atlanta representing the Louisiana Loggers Association and Lowell Hubbard of Winnfield representing the Louisiana Logging Council. The longtime Executive Director of the ALC is former Cleveland, Texas based logger, Danny Dructor, of Milam, Texas on the banks of Toledo Bend Lake.

The 2013 annual convention, which will be the organization's nineteenth, will be held in early October at the Paragon in Marksville.

"We wanted to hold the 2013 ALC convention in Natchitoches, but there is not enough hotel space to accommodate our organization in just one hotel," Taylor explained. "We didn't want ALC members scattered around in two or three hotels and have to deal with a transportation issue."

"I know that the coming year is going to be tough on me,'' Taylor noted. "I'm already accustomed to early morning flights out of Alexandria. Danny Dructor and I have already made a couple drives to the Houston airport to catch early morning flights.''

"On the 31st of this month, Danny and I will be traveling to Fort Smith, Arkansas to attend the Federal Timber Producers Committee which is affiliated with the Federal Forest Resource Coalition," Taylor said. "The Federal Forest Resource Coalition is a relatively new organization but has become very effective in pushing the Forest Service and Congress to allow more timber harvesting on National Forest Land. I want to see the ALC build good working relations with organizations like the Federal Forest Resource Coalitio. Also, I would like to see loggers in Louisiana become members of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation and those around the country with the American Farm Bureau."