The Red Zone

Timber Tract Orientation is an action that should be discussed with the crew before beginning operations on a new tract. Boundary lines must be pointed out as well as any pipelines, overhead power lines, and public road access routes.

Boundary lines are important and must be located and clearly marked before beginning operations. Crossing a boundary line could result in a visit from law enforcement, and or costly repairs, not to mention the bad publicity it might generate. Boundary lines that are displaying faded paint should be checked for accuracy and flagged.

Overhead electric power lines are a very real and present danger. Not all power lines have large right of ways and may be obscured by the timber that is to be harvested. Crew members should always be on the lookout for overhead power lines because of the risk of personnel being electrocuted, damage to equipment, and starting forest fires. Loggers find it hard to resist using power line right of ways, ROW, for their operations. They like to use the ROW for the trucks to turn around in, setting up a field shop, and for landings to load trucks in. With so much activity taking place in the ROW, people tend to let their guard down and relax their focus while in such a dangerous area. Loader operators raise logs ever closer to the wires while loading. Shear operators may lose respect for power lines and take more chances when cutting timber beside ROWs. They should be very careful when cutting timber that could fall or touch power lines. For example, many years ago a power line supplying power to Houston Co. Lake’s water pump station was damaged by a tree cut by a shear on a logging job. On this day the shear operator was cutting saw log size timber on an incline next to a power line. Instead of taking extra precaution and cutting one tree at a time, which would have given him better control, he cut two trees. Upon releasing the shear’s grapple to lay down the two trees, one tree twisted out of the grapple and fell directly on the power lines. Two or three hundred yards down the ROW, the owner and a crew member were standing in the power line ROW, but not directly under the power lines themselves. The chain reaction caused every cross member supporting the power lines to snap over three hundred yards down the line from the point of contact by the tree. Luckily, the two men were not standing directly under the power lines as they came crashing to the ground. When it comes to electricity, give it a LOT! of room.