OR Dept. of Forestry release – SALEM, Ore. – Two loggers and a forestry consultant have been chosen as Operator of the Year for their respective region of Oregon. Three regional advisory committees to the Oregon Board of Forestry selected the trio earlier this fall. The recipients will be recognized in Salem at the January meeting of the Board. The honorees are: Eastern Oregon – Leigh Ann Vradenburg with the Klamath Watershed Partnership in Klamath County Northwest Oregon – Ron Staley of Ron Staley Enterprises, Inc., of Lebanon, Ore., in Linn County. Southwest Oregon – Wally Plikat of Plikat Logging, Inc., based in Roseburg, Ore. The award recognizes forest operators who, while harvesting timber or doing other forestry work, protect natural resources at a level that consistently meets or goes above and beyond requirements of the Oregon Forest Practices Act *. That law requires people to manage forests responsibly and protect streams and water quality, protect and enhance habitat, and reduce landslide risks. The law also requires landowners to replant forests after harvesting. Videos about each of the three Operators of the Year and five Merit Award winners can be viewed on the ODF website at https://www.oregon.gov/odf/Working/Pages/default.aspx Southwest Oregon – Landowner Roseburg Resources nominated Plikat Logging for Operator of the Year. They pointed out Plikat’s willingness to protect streams by shutting down winter operations unprompted during heavy rainfalls. They also pointed out how Plikat safely logged steep hillsides while carefully protecting buffers around fish-bearing streams by careful placement of rigging corridors where logs were passed over the buffer or through pre-existing gaps in trees. ODF Stewardship Forester Donnie Widener said Plikat also maintained access to a popular tourist attraction – the Doerner Fir, also known as the Brummit Fir. At 327 feet tall, the Douglas-fir is one of the tallest trees in the world. “The only road to the fir passed right through Plikat’s logging operation, which they would halt to let visitors pass through safely,” said Widener. Merit Awards were also given to five other companies, including: Austin Weber of Weber Logging and Construction, Inc., based in Roseburg for consistent employment of innovative logging technology in steep-slope areas to protect fish-bearing streams and minimize soil disturbance and erosion.