Logging Jobs in New York – Is This the New Home of the Lumberjack?

Logging has made an amazing comeback in New York State that some find disturbing. Clear-cutting forests to create farmland was standard operating procedure in New York until about 80 years ago. Until recently, there was virtually no logging industry in New York, but just as the forests have rebounded, so has logging. World-wide demand for trendy hardwoods like oak, poplar, cherry and maple has spurred the resurgence logging operations in the state. In addition, recent Federal regulations that limit cutting on Federal lands in the western United States, especially in the Pacific Northwest, have forced lumber companies to expand the areas in which they operate.

These lumber companies have approached large numbers of landowners in New York, offering premium prices for stands of trees all over the state, even including trees in the first-ring suburbs of New York City. Logging in New York State centers on wooded lots rather than old-growth forests. This is a different type of logging from the familiar process of logging the deep woods. In New York State, landowners of plots as small as 10 acres have been approached by lumber companies.

In response to this trend, a trend that makes many people uncomfortable, states like New York have enacted programs and policies aimed at preserving forests while still utilizing some of the valuable trees the contain. But because the land is not state-owned, government can do little to stop landowners from making lucrative private deals with loggers. Some of these deals involve "liquidation cutting" that is a version of clear-cutting on a smaller scale. Local communities, however, have had some luck in enacting local laws that restrict or even prohibit logging. The upshot of all this is that the logging industry in New York State finds itself mired in one controversy after another.

Although the public perception is one of predatory loggers in collusion with a corrupt state government, many communities have taken steps to preserve woodlands with stiff local laws and ordinances. Another misperception has to do with the concept of "old-growth" woodlands. It is a sound forestry practice to cut mature trees because this creates gaps in the forest canopy, allowing sunlight to reach smaller trees. These trees will produce another crop of lumber in 10 or 15 years.

In this often hostile and politically-charged environment, the logging industry in New York is probably not a good career choice. The median hourly rate for a logger in New York State at $ 12.00 is substantially lower than Oregon at $ 19.00, Texas at $ 17.30 and California at $ 19.00. The cost of living in New York State, when compared to these same states, is substantially higher, so the loggers in New York State will feel the negative impact of low wages more than they would in other states with lower costs of living.