Perry and Natalie Brandt have been working in Delta County in the timber industry since 1981. They started with Burkey Lumber which had four retail stores and owned the mill in Delta.
The Brandts came to Lazear in 1983 from Granby.
After working for a couple of years with Burkey Lumber, he worked with Louisiana Pacific where he had 21 crew members.
For the last three years he has been working for West Range Reclamation. He does roadside hazard tree removal. He removes any trees that might fall on Forest Service roads. "The Forest Service has invested literally thousands of dollars to develop road systems throughout the national forest. They have the liability of trees falling down and hitting people using those roadways. So that's why they've been removing those hazard trees."
Those trees, depending on size and quality of wood, go to the pellet plants around Grand, Jackson and Clear Creek counties. Others go to post and pole mills throughout the state. Saw log material goes to different saw mills in Colorado.
The government is allocating funds for fuel mitigation. There has been a lot of work in and around Breckenridge and Frisco. That work is to put a fire break around residential areas.
"For years we worked locally. I basically closed every saw mill down in this country. I've worked there until they've shut down due to the economy and moved on. Before I worked for West Range Reclamation, I was working for Intermountain Resources out of Montrose," Brandt said.
Prior to that was his time with Louisiana Pacific, logging aspen timber from 1984 until 2001.
The economy over those years has gone up and down. What does Brandt credit for his longevity in logging? Natalie answered, "Adaptability and experience."
"We've always tried to run our company with a lot of integrity. I don't want to get too flowery about it," Brandt said. "I've had crew members who have worked with me since 1984. There's integrity in how you handle your employees and integrity in how you work with your employer and different land owners that you purchase wood from. You just can't go out there and start doing something without some form of integrity."
Brandt primarily bids on government jobs. On private timber he mainly negotiates a contract, but also sometimes has to bid on private timber. He specializes in harvesting timber — cut and removal.
"Land managers on public ground are always coming up with additional rules and regulations that make it more difficult to perform the jobs and meet all the requirements," he said.
He finds that when the government makes a rule it has an effect on how he has to operate and on his profitability.
"Since 2007 when the recession started, we saw a drop in the housing sector. So at that point in time we adapted and went into fuel mitigation and roadside hazard removal," Brandt said.
Brandt shared his frustrations with policy of the Forest Service, the BLM and the state concerning forests being killed by spruce beetles. "Forest management now is flawed. You can't stop an epidemic of bugs if you are only logging the timber they have already killed and [the bugs] have moved on." He wants work to be done in those areas that are not totally infested. The public doesn't want green trees cut to slow down the spruce beetle epidemic. Between public perception and a slow-moving government, Brandt isn't hopeful. "I don't think it will ever change," he said.
"Our land managers, because of the political climate, are unable or unwilling to become proactive in forest management on public land. That would be the BLM, State Forest Service and U.S. Forest Service. And those guys would just burn me at the stake if they thought they could because I'm saying those guys have not been effective in the way they are doing things," Brandt said. "They are hamstrung by rules and regulations, but it's still their fault. If they are the land managers, they should be making the appropriate and proper decisions on how to create forest health. They know what needs to be done, but they aren't doing it."blog comments powered by Disqus