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Red Flags for Producers — The Foundation of the Timber Supply Chain

Red Flags for Producers — The Foundation of the Timber Supply Chain

Harvesting timber for a variety of uses is what the timber industry is all about. Security breaches in the production phase of the process can have a negative impact on the landowners who are downstream from the logging operation and on the timber companies who receive the harvested timber based on contractual agreements.  Security issues related to producers must be considered from two different perspectives:

  • The producers themselves and the security issues they face on-site within their own operations. 
  • The timber companies have contracted with producers for timber harvested from a specific tract of land. 

The are two primary areas to consider when looking at security concerns for producers while working on the tract: 

  • Trespassers and the potential threats they bring to the safety and security of employees and property.
  • Theft and fraud from logging and transportation employees and sub-contractors who may siphon timber and other wood-related products for their own personal use.

THINGS THAT KEEP LOGGERS UP AT NIGHT (BESIDES CASH FLOW!)

With respect to trespassers, producers face the familiar issues of fuel theft, equipment theft and damage, and theft of wood. As fuel prices have increased over the past few years, the fuel utilized to operate wood equipment has become a target for thieves. To compound the problem, fuel thieves can cause additional damage and loss of land clean-up when fuel spills contaminate soil and water. 

Besides thieves, other trespassers can be as innocent as wandering hikers, nature lovers, and recreational hunters. However, others can be angry protesters or even drug dealers who use the wood’s remoteness as a cover for their operations. 

An equally serious problem for producers is a breach of security from other loggers and truckers (whether employees or sub-contractors) who are hired to harvest and deliver the timber in accordance with the contract. 

Red flag alerts with respect to loggers:

–      Noticing unusual traffic patterns into or around the logging site. 

–      Unlocked gates

–      4-wheeler traffic into and out of the logging site. 

–      Missing tools

–      Contract truck drivers who float among several loggers

–      Foresters who ask you to “kite” timber from one tract to another

–      Hostile hunt club members

RECOMMENDATIONS 

Most of the recommended precautions for producers are designed to protect property from theft and vandalism.   

1. Discourage access to the equipment during down times by blocking the entrance or leaving equipment near the homes of friendly neighbors or as far back in the woods as possible

2. Install anti-theft mechanisms such as locks, steel-braided fuel lines that cannot be cut, and anti-siphon screens on the necks of each tank. . 

3. Secure equipment and trailers to a stationary object.

In some cases, employees need to be protected from unwanted trespassers such as drug dealers who are looking for refuge in remote areas or angry environmentalists and neighbors who are seeking to take matters in their own hands to stop the operation. 

1. If there are unusual materials on the property such as trash, fertilizer bags, plastic garbage bags, 20–50-gallon drums, etc. and especially if there are distinctive, obnoxious odors, STAY AWAY. Contact the local authorities and the landowner. These could be signs of serious and dangerous illegal trespassing.

2. Although most demonstrators are merely voicing their opinions, be wary of those who are particularly angry and militant. Contact local authorities and the landowner.

3. Pay attention to things that are misplaced or out of the ordinary, such as hidden logs in the woods, unusual traffic patterns on the tract, and nearby timber cuttings from other producers. These could be unauthorized, and you could be falsely accused of working outside your contract.

Finally, although we hate to think about it, producers need to be concerned about employees and contractors who are providing logging and transportation services for your operation. 

The best security prevention with loggers (whether employees or contractors) is to have clear, well-established processes and procedures to keep everyone honest.  

  • Ensure employees and contractors are clear about contractual terms and conditions to avoid misunderstandings. 
  • Track fuel and supply usage.
  • Keep clear records of all shipments.
  • Train employees in policies, procedures, safe practices and performance expectations.
  • Have procedures for and expectations for reporting safety and security red flags.
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