North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Equine Foresty: A Minnesota Logger Seeks to Educate the Public on Low-Impact Forest Harvesting
After working at a treatment facility for juveniles for 16 years, Tim Carroll never planned to have a successful career logging with horses. But when Carroll married his wife, Doreen, who had three riding horses, he soon grew attached to draft horses and began using them to plow his driveway and do other work on his property.
Soon after, down the road from his home in Minnesota, Carroll noticed a neighbor had hired a machine logger. The rest, you could say, is history.
“Those loggers had left a mess on my neighbor’s property,” explained Carroll. “I asked if I could come by and clean out some of those logs with my horses. It didn’t take long and I had a crowd of people watching. People started asking me if I could come out to their land. Before I had my first job done, I had three contracts waiting. Not long after that, I had 27 contracts. After 5 years, I quit my day job, and started doing this fulltime.
”Other than cutting firewood, Carroll had never been involved in forestry. Soon, “equine forestry,” as Carroll calls it, became his new passion. As his interest in horse logging grew, he traveled around the country working with other horse loggers, such as Jason Rutledge with Healing Harvest Forest Foundation.
Today, Cedar River Horse Logging and Wood Products has been in business for 18 years using draft horses for sustainable forest management.
Carroll developed a strong desire to educate people about the benefits and sustainability of equine forestry, so he submitted a proposal to NCR-SARE. He received a 2006 Farmer Rancher grant from NCR-SARE for $6,000 to educate the public about this low-impact forest harvesting method with his project, “Equine Forestry: Promotion of a Low-Impact Forest Harvesting Method.”
“Draft horses are incredibly efficient, and people need to know that,” explained Carroll. “This project was started to educate the public about equine forestry and to bring young people into the profession. The average age of a horse logger is 45-55. It’s not for a lack of demand for the work; it’s a lack of educated young people getting involved.”
Carroll is convinced his method is sustainable from many angles.
“I don’t think that there’s a system that’s more sustainable for logging than ours,” he explained. “Horses cost about $2.50 per day to operate, including deprecation, and we can move a semi load of logs per day with them. We even use them to harvest the hay they eat. Skidders don’t produce baby skidders. Horses reproduce colts. “With his project funds, Carroll created a DVD to demonstrate and educate the public about the benefits of equine forestry.
The production was aired on Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). For the production, Carroll set up an old fashion logging camp with a 20 man crew, 11 horses, four saw mills, and a camp cook. During production, the camp logged and sawed 36,000 board feet in eight days.
“The film was aired for the first time on January 12, 2008 on TPT and I have had a lot of calls from people who would now prefer to have their land worked with horses,” said Carroll.
“I have done a lot of seminars and demonstrations and found people really want this service. They are interested in learning more about horse logging. Also, this grant has given me an opportunity to understand the Public Broadcasting System and how it works. My role as a businessman is changing from a producer to a manager and teacher,” said Carroll.
Carroll’s project has been featured on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels program in 2008.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC06-605, Equine Forestry: Promotion of a Low-Impact Forest Harvesting Method.
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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.