OUR HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY
The forests currently owned by Shasta Forests Timberlands, LLC were part of the lands acquired by Thomas Barlow Walker and John E. Andrus, owners of the Red River Lumber Company beginning in 1894. The company eventually acquired over 900,000 acres of timberland in northeastern California. The company had a different approach to forestry than was common in those days, and included the concepts of pre-commercial thinning and long term sustainability. The following excerpt from the publication New York Commercial (July 7, 1905) describes this approach in the terms of the day:
“… it is interesting to recall the plans of lumbering which Mr. Walker intends to carry out. The forest undergrowth is to be systematically cleared from his lands and the waste of lumber is to be removed as these constitute the chief menace to the destruction of the timber by fire.Then, instead of denuding the land completely of standing timber, as is done by the ordinary western lumber man, a systematic plan of forestry involving the felling of only the more merchantable standing timber is to be adopted. Under this system the life of his forests will be extended indefinitely and a perpetual source of revenue will be maintained in them.”
The company built the town of Westwood, California in 1912-1913. The mill was built in three stages, each new mill providing the material to build the next. The company drew on its experience in the Minnesota Red River Valley to construct a state of the art mill. The first tree was harvested on September 10, 1912 by Clinton Walker, aided by his children Brooks and Harriet.
In addition to being a large landowner, the Red River Lumber Company was well known for its railroads (it had one of the first electric railways in Northern California), as well as many smaller specialized rail lines into the woods. It was also well known for its promotion of the legend of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe. It had popularized the legend in a series of pamphlets for the purpose of advertisement. The company combined these three unique qualities - timber, railroads and Paul Bunyan - in November 1931, when it sent the Paul Bunyan Prosperity Special as the first train on the new Western Pacific – Great Northern Transcontinental Railroad.
Over time, the original lands of the Red River Lumber Company were partitioned to various family members or sold to other timber and wood products interests including Kimberly Clark, among others. The Westwood mill was sold along with some timberland to Fruit Growers Supply in 1944 who operated it until 1956. The remaining timberlands were managed by descendants of the Red River Lumber Co. through the Shasta Forests Company ( Shafco) for the next 25 years. Shasta Forests was created in 1969 through a partition with the other owners. It started with 127,000 acres and through acquisition has grown to our current size of 139,000 acres. In 2011, Shasta Forests was reorganized into Shasta Forests Timberlands, LLC.
Over the past four decades management of Shasta Forestshas provided sustainable forestry and healthy forest ecosystems, including clean water, productive soils, wildlife habitat, forage, aesthetics and recreational opportunities. There are over 101 miles of fish bearing water courses on our lands.
Using primarily individual tree selection over the past 40 years, more than 750 million board feet of timber has been harvested providing a significant supply of wood products. Yet, by harvesting less than growth and leaving the best trees to grow, the timber volume on Shasta Forests has doubled over the past four decades and the forests are healthier and more vigorous. Our current inventory represents over 1.3 billion board feet of well managed, growing trees. The yield taxes paid and the jobs directly and indirectly created as a result of this timber production have generated millions of dollars in federal, state and local tax revenues.
As we have done since the beginning, we manage our forests to ensure that highest possible forest health and wildfire resistance. We carefully thin overgrown areas of the land to retain vigorous, well spaced trees and appropriate native species and to minimize hazardous ladder fuels.
Fire is a natural part of the forest ecosystem. Shasta Forests Timberlands, LLC has experienced numerous wildfires on our lands which have burned tens of thousands of acres of productive forest. After wildfire, we immediately salvage harvest the fire killed trees before the wood decays and then we soon replant the forestland. Our intent in these instances is to return the forest to the fire adapted native mixed conifer and pine forests that were historically present on the land. By using locally adapted native seed from our extensive seed collection, following state of the art planting methods and managing weeds and other pests, we have achieved very high survival rates on our plantations. We follow up and manage tree spacing and brushy fuel loads in these plantations as they develop to keep them healthy and vigorous and to reduce the risk of destruction from catastrophic wildfire.
We support the use of forest biomass for the generation of energy whenever possible. Many of our thinning programs, and a few of our harvesting programs, generate biomass for local power generation facilities. We feel that this provides a renewable source of energy for local communities, helps reduce fire risk and improves the health of the forest.