Promoting Safe and Environmentally Responsible Tethered Logging

Improving harvesting practices on steep slopes in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West
Why this Project Matters
Harvesting timber on steep slopes poses safety and environmental challenges. Tethered harvesting, also known as cable-assist harvesting, uses cable-winch systems on machines like harvesters, feller bunchers, forwarders, loaders, and skidders to stabilize and assist equipment operations on steep slopes. The cable system allows the equipment to operate on slopes that would normally be considered unsafe for operators and equipment or damaging to soils. Research is needed to investigate the operational feasibility, worker safety considerations, environmental impact, and economic efficiency of tethered logging, which will improve harvesting practices in the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West.
How the Project Contributes to Sustainability Objectives
One of the key objectives of this study is to measure impacts of tethered logging on soil health. Good soil health is critical to prompt reforestation which in turn provides habitat for wildlife, slows the incursion of invasive plant species, and reduces the rate of surface water flowing to streams below. This study will help forest managers and regulators better understand the potential effects of tethered logging systems on ecosystem services including soil productivity, clean water, and riparian and terrestrial biodiversity. Sharing this knowledge will enable land managers and regulators to make informed, evidence-based decisions that will improve the sustainability of forest management operations.
SFI’s Contribution
The SFI Community Grant Program is supporting this project. The study will generate empirical data about the impacts of tethered logging systems on soil disturbance, sediment delivery to streams, operational costs, and worker safety. This data will be made widely available. This will help grow professional development for land managers, regulators, contractors, operators, and loggers by delivering information to help them make informed, site-specific decisions to ensure tethered logging represents a responsible, sustainable option that meets SFI standards.
How this Project Builds SFI Community Engagement
A critical step in this project will be communicating the results of this study, along with findings from similar research locations across the region, to timber companies, land managers, representatives from the forestry industry, small landowners, regulators, educators, environmentalist organizations, and natural resource professionals including foresters, biologists, geologists, and silviculturists. The Washington State SFI Implementation Committee, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and Oregon State University will share findings through conferences, online newsletters, and training materials, which will be shared with SFI Implementation Committees in California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Alberta, and British Columbia.
This partnership includes researchers, SFI certified organizations, and government officials.
  • Project lead: Washington State SFI Implementation Committee
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • Oregon State University College of Forestry
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources
Related Information
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Washington Kids Gain Valuable Wildfire Knowledge
Washington State SFI Implementation Committee
SFI responds to local needs and issues across the United States and Canada through 34 SFI Implementation Committees at the state, provincial, and regional level. This unique grassroots network involves private landowners, independent loggers, forestry professionals, Indigenous people, local government agencies, academics, scientists, and conservationists. SFI Implementation Committees promote the SFI Forest Management Standard as a means to broaden the practice of responsible forestry and achieve progress on the ground. They offer a forum to provide information or answer questions about local forestry operations, and most have a process to respond to questions or concerns about forestry practices on SFI-certified lands. Learn more.
COPY LINK:  https://forests.org/grant-washington-sfi-implementation-committee/