November / December 2023

FITZPATRICK, Alabama – As more loggers and landowners are exposed to the system, cut-to-length operations are making believers out of skeptics in the southeastern U.S., and quickly becoming an all-weather solution to approaching Southern hardwood in wet ground.


  • Bama’s Sanders: Wet Ground, Big Timber
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Bama’s Sanders: Wet Ground, Big Timber

Article by Patrick Dunning

FITZPATRICK, Alabama – As more loggers and landowners are exposed to the system, cut-to-length operations are making believers out of skeptics in the southeastern U.S., and quickly becoming an all-weather solution to approaching Southern hardwood in wet ground.

Kirk Sanders, 62, owner, KSC LLC., has conducted high-grade thinning prescriptions with Ponsse forestry equipment in Alabama since 2000 and was recommended by his forester for a commercial thinning operation 30 miles east of Timber Harvesting’s headquarters, on a 120-acre tract in Bullock County, because of his machines and how he’s able to utilize them.

This stand of Black Belt timber hadn’t been touched since 1995 and for the last three years the ground was too saturated to access any merchantable hardwood by conventional cut-skid means. (The “Black Belt” is a soil type less than 100 miles wide but stretching from southeast Alabama into northern Mississippi, known for its dark prairie soils underlain by chalk formations: When it gets wet in the Black Belt it can stay wet a while.)

Chunks of the land were still under water when KSC began harvesting trees on the property in August, and three sizeable beaver dams were identified on the southwest end of the parcel that prevented the proper movement of water and also flooded valuable timberland.

KSC’s 2012 Elephant forwarder and 2016 Bear harvester made light work of the wet conditions and efficiently moved 6,000 tons of hardwood species in two months.

“When we first got here it was really, really wet. You’d be standing in water right here at this landing a couple months ago,” Kevin Tyler, 46, harvester operator, says. “We worked the dry areas first and now we’re on the backside of the property, about two miles in, working our way back to the road. We should be done by the end of this week.”

Consulting forester, Brett Ezelle, Carlson Land Services, Inc., admits he questioned the cut-to-length system’s capabilities on this tract in the beginning, but is now a staunch supporter of Ponsse machines after observing them in bottomland operations. “I was doubting the machines in big timber like this; I’ve seen them cut pine but I’m a firm believer now. This was my first experience with Ponsse and I’m convinced this is the way to cut hardwood. There’s less damage to the ground, they do an excellent job processing logs and there’s very little waste,” Ezelle said.


Spanning seven decades since its inception in 1952, Timber Harvesting highlights innovative and successful logging operations across the U.S. and around the world. Timber Harvesting also emphasizes new technology and provides the best marketing vehicle for the industry’s suppliers to reach the largest number of loggers in North America and beyond.

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