Forestry Practices

Big Creek Lumber has been harvesting forestlands on the Central Coast of California continuously since 1946.  The primary objective of the forestry department at Big Creek Lumber is to manage our forestlands in a manner that ensures both environmental and economic sustainability, with healthy, growing trees that can be harvested in the future.

We manage and harvest our forestlands in accordance with the California Forest Practice Rules, which are particularly stringent and protective on the Central Coast.  Consistent with our commitment to responsible forestry and preserving healthy forest ecosystems, it has been our long-term philosophy and practice to harvest at a level less intense than the maximum allowed by law.  Over the last several decades, our forestry department has been responsible for pioneering and implementing many progressive and protective forest management practices that have eventually been adopted into the state regulations specific to timber harvest operations in Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

A helicopter picking up logs

Big Creek Lumber is a pioneer of selective harvesting on the Central Coast.  In essence, selective harvesting is the thinning of individual trees throughout a forest to allow for increased growth and vitality of the remaining trees.  These remaining trees are referred to as the "leave stand".  Coastal redwoods exhibit significant, and at times phenomenal, growth when competing trees are thinned and the remaining trees gain access to increased sunlight.  Generally, defective trees with little growth potential are harvested, allowing better formed trees to experience increased growth.  Larger trees with recognizably pronounced cavities or other potential wildlife habitat are retained.  The remaining redwoods are thinned with the principal objective of increasing spacing between dominant and co-dominant trees.  Through careful selective harvesting, Big Creek Lumber is able to cultivate a healthy, continually growing forest with trees of various ages that will grow to harvestable size at staggered intervals into the future.

Trees in a forest.In addition to selective harvesting, Big Creek Lumber was at the forefront of developing and implementing many other forest harvest practices, including riparian setbacks, improved road surfacing to minimize erosion and run-off, and various treatment methods for logging slash.

Our goal is to continue managing forests into the future for generations to come.  Properly managed forests not only provide sustainable and renewable products for local markets, but can be harvested in a manner that sustains the health and vigor of these forests.