The formation of the Louisiana Logging Council (LLC) in 1995 can be likened to a clearcut—knocking down barriers between loggers in east and west, north and south Louisiana, giving clearer visibility to the aim of improving the lives of loggers everywhere.
The LLC will turn 25 in 2020 and many milestones have been reached in the years since.
“The Logging Council gave them a voice in developing forest policy,” said C.A. “Buck” Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association and the LLC. The LLC was formed under the umbrella of the LFA but with an independent board of directors.
Tony Lavespere remembers going to the first meeting of the American Loggers Council (ALC) with Derald Phillips before the Louisiana council was formed. They each owned independent logging businesses, but someone questioned whether they should sit at the table because they had no affiliation with a logging group in their state.
“Earl St. John, one of the founders of the ALC, had us all go around the room and identify our businesses. When we said we owned our logging business, he said, ‘That’s good enough for me.’ ”
But they and others knew that a logging council was what they needed in the state.
“All we wanted was to unite them as a group,” said Derald Phillips of Lena, the first president of the LLC.
“We had one goal,” said Lavespere, “uniting the loggers in Louisiana.”
“The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) was being launched, and that would involve new standards nationwide that directly affected loggers,” said Vandersteen. “It was advantageous for loggers to work together on these issues and standards so they were in harmony with SFI.”
Clyde Todd, who was the program director for the newly minted LLC, remembers the early years of safety training, board meetings, fundraisers for Log a Load for kids and important visits to the Legislature as exciting times.
“The loggers were not just sitting in the same room (as other forestry interests) but making decisions on their own,” Todd said.
At first, however, loggers and industry were skeptical of a council.