Sierra Resource Management, Inc. of Sonora, California has been a Certified Master Logger company since 2013. Co-owner Mike Albrecht saw the certification as the next step in a career that has spanned decades and has always sought to enhance professionalism in logging. Mike, like so many loggers, grew up in the woods and has been fascinated by timber harvesting his whole life. He was raised on a 1000-acre YMCA camp in La Honda, CA where his dad was camp director. After his undergraduate work, he earned a Masters in Forestry from Duke University, going on to work in California for Pacific Ultrapower, establishing wood fueled power plants and serving as Director of Fuel Procurement for the state.
But logging and forestry have always been his passion, and in 1989 he joined Joe Martin Logging and Trucking, eventually establishing Sierra Resource Management in 1993 with partner Stacey Dodge and his wife Vicki at his side. Currently with 15 employees, this mechanized operation mainly works in the central Sierras and takes a ‘systems approach’ to forest management, focusing on stewardship contracts on Federal lands, often working with Sierra Pacific Industries. These tend to be complex and diverse contracts, often harvesting Ponderosa pine, and cedar with cut-to-length and tracked feller bunchers in some of the most sensitive and politically charged landscapes in the country. Mike is a Registered Professional Forester with the State of California. His company has developed a trusted relationship with clients and often works on ‘designation by prescription’ projects.
Mike knows his work will be highly scrutinized and sees his company’s product not in terms of the timber harvested or logs sent to market, but in the long-range health of the forest when they complete a job. Pursuing Master Logger Certification© was a natural fit for Sierra Resource Management, where pride in the work accomplished is part of the company culture. Mike saw Master Logger Certification© as way to acknowledge the excellent work he and his crew had always done, and an achievement that will elevate logging as a profession. “I’m very involved in advocating for the industry. I’m currently Vice President of Associated California Loggers and incoming President, and through that I’ve become involved in American Loggers Council. One of the things we’re working towards is recognition of logging as a profession, rather than just a job.”
He realizes Master Logger Certification© is relatively new and still gaining traction. Mike views this as a necessary next step for the timber harvesting industry, and a means to improve client trust and public perception. “I believe in it. I want to see loggers be very, very proud of what they do. Most of them already are, but sometimes when you add that professional certification, it’s a way to recognize it. Once you are Certified Master Logger, you have attained the pinnacle of achievement in the logging profession.”
He sees timber harvesting as just beginning to be recognized for the critical role it plays in keeping the ecosystem healthy and believes that Master Logger Certification© is an important step up in this process. “Let’s face it. Our guys are hardworking, and we need that, but we also need to become recognized as professionals. Certification as a Master Logger is the next step up. It’s recognition of that professionalism. “
Mike is an advocate for loggers at many levels, most vocally for his own crew: “A lot of people might say they have great employees, but I have the BEST in the business.” Many of his crew have been with him for 20-30 years, and Sierra Resource Management runs like a family operation. His leadership roles with Associated California Loggers and American Loggers Council provide a unique platform to take his message about logging as a profession to a wider audience: “I’m really interested in exploring where Master Logger Certification© is going to go. I think we are on the cusp of something very promising, and I think it’s going to take logging to the next level.”
Clearly Sierra Resource Management is a company that truly demonstrates Master Logger Certification©’s 7 Areas of Responsibility in their work. When asked what advice Mike wished he would have had when he was just starting out, he is quick to point out the need for business skills. He knows loggers are innovative and problem solvers by nature, but says from his own experience, he wished he would have had more knowledge of business principles and ways to evaluate efficiency, productivity and profit. He urges loggers to take advantage of as many continuing education opportunities as possible. As Program Chair for Associated California Logger’s annual conference in Reno, January 2019, Mike is sure to bring some great opportunities for professional development.
One of the biggest challenges facing Mike’s company, like others across the country, is the current political and regulatory climate. On the West Coast especially, decades of increasing regulatory red tape, coupled with cyclical challenges of drought and insect infestation have culminated in years of devastating wildfires. Mike is optimistic, however, and is proud of his long-standing involvement with a collaborative effort known as Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions (YSS) which is bringing together diverse stakeholders to address recovery and restoration. “Let’s face it. We are working for the public, even when we are on private land. Everyone judges us on what we leave behind.” Mike recognizes the need for more education for the public, environmental groups, and landowners about what loggers do and their commitment to healthy forests. He believes if any good can come out of the recent years of fire devastation, it will be a change in public perception about timber harvesting and forest management.
He sees nationwide growth of American Master Logger Certification© as a way loggers are demonstrating commitment to their profession. “With American Loggers Council behind it, we’re working on this at a national level. I see it taking off over the next decade. If you’re a Certified Master Logger in California or a Certified Master Logger in North Carolina, you are recognized to have met these same standards. Seems to me it gives our profession national recognition.”
Visit American Master Logger Certification for more information on the program.