Having grown-up around loggers and worked in several different industries, I can undoubtedly say that the logging community is like no other. The culture in which logging is rooted has remained the same even when everything else in the world has seemingly changed. It is a unpretentious culture of perseverance, hard-work, and community.
This year has been particularly challenging. Covid-19 has had a significant impact on logger’s profitability across the country. In Louisiana, it is estimated that production has dropped more than 30% from the beginning of March. Most logging companies are small, family-owned, and operate with high operational costs and low margins. A few months of diminished production has serious effects on their solvency.
As if Covid-19 did not cause enough financial ruin, back to back hurricanes ripped through Louisiana. Hurricanes Laura and Delta brought violent winds that wreaked havoc like we have never seen before. The total economic loss to the Louisiana timber industry because of the hurricanes exceeds well over $1 billion.
In Winnfield Louisiana, where handshakes still mean something and so does taking care of your community. You find folks like the McManus Logging family, out using their own equipment and resources to clear the roads and debris from houses, even before the utility-workers could respond. “The damage was immeasurable. Trees decimated our infrastructure. Loggers were working 15+ hour days in 100+ temperatures. The national guard and linemen did a tremendous job, but when it came to major stuff, they left it to the skilled cutters. I am so proud to be from the logging community in times like these,” said Toni McManus McAillister, McManus Logging.
Loggers will never get the same recognition as the utility-workers and that is fine by them. That is not why they did it. Nobody asked them to help, they just did what they do – because that is who they are.
Now as we watch the wildfires incinerate the west, we see the same response. Loggers using their own assets to fight fires in forests that they were not even allowed to help manage. This genuine eagerness to selflessly help others seems to be a common occurrence with loggers, no matter the geography. Loggers embody the fabric of what it means to be a community. To be an American. To just simply be a good human being.