CalCedar Centennial Event: Day 2 – Sawmill & Forestry Tour

This continues from prior Centennial Event Day 1 summary post.

Day 2 focused uniquely on California wood supply highlighting the process from forest management and harvesting to sawmill production of Incense Cedar pencil Stock. The day was made possible with the generous collaboration of one of CalCedar’s leading lumber suppliers Sierra Pacific Industries.  After a 1 hour drive to Lincoln, CA guests and a group of new arrivals met up at SPI’s extensive complex there.  This includes a large log sawmill focused on cutting for premium grade lumber products, a small log dimension lumber mill, a cogeneration facility using the mill waste to produce energy and steam, dry kilns and finished lumber planing mill and packaging operation.  The mill produces a diverse range of lumber products for commercial, industrial and residential purposes from up to 7 different species throughout the year, given available species tributary to this location.

The forestry tour group at the harvest production area in the Tahoe National Forest.

In addition to 3×3 inch Pencil Stock squares, Incense-cedar is utilized for other commercial fencing, siding and decking to make optimal use of the variety of log sizes and qualities coming to the mill.  While the saw mills were running other species and products, the planing mill was grading, sorting and packaging a recent of kiln dried cedar pencil stock destined for container shipment to CalCedar’s Tianjin slat factory. An impressive facility the group gained a good sense of the scale and complexity of an integrated multi-species, multi-product lumber operation.  This mill represents one of 5 SPI mills and 8 total sawmills producing Incense-cedar and White Fir pencil stock for CalCedar’s needs throughout California and Oregon.

Participants on the Sawmill tour included a contingent of Japanese pencil makers pictured here in front of Incense-cedar pencil stock ready to ship to CalCedar’s Tianjin slat factory.

After a boxed lunch and a 1 hour plus drive up into the mountains the group arrived at an active timber harvest site in the Tahoe National Forest mostly harvesting, de-limbing and trimming to length Ponderosa Pine log segments for transport to the Lincoln facility visited previously. Incense-cedar represents just 5-7% of the trees throughout its natural growing range so arrives from different harvesting operations and aggregates in the various sawmill log decks until sufficient quantities are built up to schedule an efficient production run as each new species . Here the SPI foresters explained about current forest management practices and challenges with recent draught and Pine bark beetle infestations affecting certain species and their indirect impact on cedar supplies as the industry focuses more on salvage harvesting of those affected species.

Finally the group travelled on to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe for an open evening and subsequent day of relaxation and site seeing or relaxation before the closing event the following night.

For more images see the full Forest & Sawmill tour photo gallery.