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Oregon loggers were on the front lines fighting wildfires. Here’s how you can help them recover

Photo from Bighorn Logging Corp.

When wildfires devastated Oregon forests and communities in September, loggers were all-hands-on-deck to help with fire suppression and emergency response.

These same fires destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of their tools and equipment that couldn’t be moved in time. In some cases, these loggers even lost their homes.

To help them get back on their feet, the Oregon Logging Conference, a regional logging conference that meets annually, created the OLC Repair & Recover Fire Relief Fund. The fund, guided by OLC board member Heidi Leib, provides financial support to timber-related contractors affected by the fires as they work on recovery and getting back to work. So far, the fund has raised $103,000 and has started giving out donations.

“I saw a need to create a program to target businesses that had lost equipment, tools and supplies to the fires,” Leib told Oregon Forests Forever. “This fund will assist with insurance deductibles and the costs of moving and repairing equipment and replacing equipment and supplies.”

On Christmas day the Fire Relief Fund provided $20,000 to a logging family that lost everything to the Holiday wildfire and were forced to start over. This donation will help them rebuild so they, and their employees, can get back to work.

Many vehicles and heavy machines were left behind to burn on job sites as fires spread out of control. Just one of these machines could cost anywhere from $200,000 up to $1.5 million. That’s on top of the harvested timber that was destroyed by fires.

One contract logger, Rick McKay based in Sweet Home, told the Oregonian that he lost nine pieces of logging equipment worth an estimated $1 million.

“These are the same people we rely on for forest restoration efforts,” Leib added.

Scott Melcher, president of the Oregon Logging Conference, says the fund is supported by donations from forest products manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and individuals.

Some of the fund’s top donors include:

  • Boise Cascade
  • General Trailer
  • Georgia Pacific
  • Murphy
  • Northwest Farm Credit Services
  • Roseburg Forest Products
  • Seneca
  • South Coast Lumber Co.
  • Starker Forest
  • Triad Machinery
  • Weyerhaeuser

“The OLC Repair & Recovery Fire Relief program would assist forestry contractors with insurance deductibles and costs associated with removal, repairing, and replacement of equipment, tools and supplies, damaged by recent wildfires,” added Melcher.

To learn how you can help, email [email protected] or call 541-686-9191.

Heidi Leib can also be reached directly at [email protected]. A donation form can be found here.