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Northern California Tour Highlights Sustainable Forestry and Milling Practices

In partnership with the US Forest Service and WoodWorks, the Mendocino Companies hosted a tour of its Ukiah, California timberlands and sawmill facilities on May 12, 2023. The 30 tour participants included architects, engineers, and other specifiers. Most were Bay Area-based, with a few traveling from farther afield to attend the day-long tour. 

Commencing at the Ukiah Forestry Office, Jessica Hewitt, Director, Marketing and Charlie Jourdain, Manager, Business Development, provided an overview of the Mendocino Companies’ business, product lines, and environmental credentials, including Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® C031337, C013133) certification, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results, and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) documentation. 

Participants toured the Mendocino Companies’ properties to see a well-managed working forest and sawmill where solid-sawn, Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® C031337, C013133) certified redwood and Douglas fir wood products are produced. Photo courtesy of the Mendocino Companies

The tour continued with lunch and two stops on the timberland property to highlight how long-term management aims to restore the lands to a natural, conifer-dominant landscape, and to create a wildfire resilient forest. Led by John Andersen, Director, Forest Policy, the first stop highlighted a section of old-growth forest that is permanently protected from logging. Mr. Andersen further described how variable retention is utilized to create opportunities for replanting and regenerating redwood and Douglas fir trees where other, non-conifer tree species may be dominant. 

The next tour stop focused on forest management activities that reduce fuels to prevent catastrophic wildfire events. The stop was located at Miller Ridge, a major north-south trending ridge west of the city of Ukiah. Ladder fuels, brush and small to medium-sized trees, which allow fire to reach the crowns of conifers, were removed through mastication activities. Wildfires that have burned through areas treated in this manner have shown these treatments are effective in retaining forest canopies post-fire.         

Lastly, participants were guided through the Ukiah Sawmill where redwood and Douglas fir logs are processed into solid-sawn lumber. Led by John Crosswhite, Director, Operations, participants learned that the facility is unique in that it can cut multiple wood species while most mills cut only one. Mr. Crosswhite described the technology in the mill that maximizes lumber production while minimizing waste, ensuring maximum value extraction from each log that is milled.

“Choosing wood as a building material can help support sustainable management and restoration of forest ecosystems on federal, state and private forest lands throughout California and the United States,” said Helena Murray, Regional Wood and Biomass Utilization Program Manager at the US Forest Service.

“Our program has the unique role of working directly with design and construction professionals to encourage and support the use of wood in commercial and multi-family buildings,” said Chelsea Drenick, WoodWorks’ Regional Director for Northern California, Nevada and Utah. “People are interested in sustainability topics like biogenic carbon and LCA, and an important part of our message is that the use of wood in buildings helps to incentivize landowners to invest in practices aimed at long-term forest health. The ability to demonstrate sustainability at work on the Mendocino Companies’ lands, and the process of making lumber, was an invaluable education opportunity.” 

Mendocino Companies’ John Andersen added, “I thank the US Forest Service, WoodWorks, and everyone who attended to see firsthand the sustainable forest management policies we employ. There is no better source of lumber than in California where regulations ensure protection of all the forest resources we value.”  

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