COOS BAY - For more than 60 years, D&H Logging has been a mainstay in the forests around Coos County.
Currently run by siblings Gary and Brad Haga and Leslie Anderson, the business was first started by their parents in 1959. In the late 1980s, the children took over the business. Through downturns in the logging industry, as mills have closed and many have struggled, D&H Logging has persevered.
Through that time, they have seen it all, well, almost all.
Last week, D&H received a new honor when they were named Southwest Operator of the Year by the Department of Forestry. The award is given to three companies in the logging industry each year and is geared toward honoring companies that protect the environment while leading the way in the industry.
“This firm successfully harvested a unit using a difficult downhill logging method because steep rocky bluffs made the more traditional uphill yarding method too dangerous,” the press release stated. “Crews did an excellent job minimizing disruption to traffic on the road below the harvest site and of protecting trees bordering a nearby salmon-bearing stream. They also worked to finish logging before the start of spring nesting season for three different important bird species in the area.”
Brad Haga said the work was challenging, but it was nothing new to his crews.
“They want responsible logging out there,” Brad said. “That road was a well-traveled road, so it needed to be done correctly.”
While the Haga children were not involved in the early days of the business, it didn’t take long for them to become a vital part of the business. The two brothers have spent more than 80 years combined working in the forest while Leslie has worked in the office for more than 30 years.
Receiving an honor for protecting the environment was cool, the siblings said, but taking care of the forest is the way they’ve always done business.
“That’s where we work, eat and play,” Brad said. “We want to take care of it.”
Brad said the secret to succeeding during trying times in the industry is pretty simple — do a good job every day.
“I don’t know if there’s any secret, just do a good job,” he said. “Those companies, they don’t want to hire a bunch of people. They don’t want to babysit you.”
Through the years, D&H Logging has done virtually everything short of operating a mill, but today their primary job is more focused. After someone else cuts down a tree, D&H is responsible for collecting the logs, trimming them, cutting them to size, loading them onto trucks and delivering them to a mill.
In addition to running the logging company, the siblings own Young’s Trucking, which they use to deliver logs.
While the logging industry takes a lot of heat from environmentalists, Brad said most companies work very hard to protect the environment. He said generations of loggers have made moves to protect the forests and their industry. When a tree is cut down, new ones are planted almost immediately. Companies plant trees, fertilize them and get them growing. The goal is to let them grow for 40 or 45 years where they can then be cut again. And it works. Without cutting through the forest, there is enough wood to be cut time and time again.
“Most of the ground we log has been logged at least two times before,” Gary said.
For D&H, protecting the forests not only is right for the environment, it just makes sense. By doing things right, they keep themselves and their 17 employees on the job. And if they earn an award, that’s just a bonus.
“They pick a job that is environmentally high risk, a tough job,” Brad said. “We’ve been nominated before, but we’ve never gotten it before. This is the first time.”
The award is traditionally given out at a meeting of the Associated Oregon Logging Conference, but like everything in 2020, things will be a bit different. Instead of meeting in person, the conference is going virtual.
While things are mostly good, the biggest challenge is a surprise — trouble finding good employees.
“Nobody wants to work that hard anymore,” Leslie said. “It’s hard work.”
Despite the hard work, D&H plans to continue. And for the Haga brothers, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like it because you’re outside,” Brad said. “We see a lot of ground out here that most people have never, ever seen. There’s some pretty neat stuff going on.”