Balloon logging efforts haven't taken off locally

Has balloon logging ever taken place in Southern Oregon? A balloon seems cheaper to operate than a helicopter, maybe slower, but wouldn't it get the same job done?

— Skye J., Ashland

Skye, according to a few retired Southern Oregon-based timber-sale managers and a couple of distinguished professors at Oregon State University's College of Forestry, balloon logging has never made an appearance in Southern Oregon forests.

It was tested once in the Umpqua National Forest, said John Sessions, an OSU distinguished professor who visited several balloon-logging sites during the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in the Willamette National Forest. The last balloon-logging operation he remembers in Oregon took place no later than 1986.

According to retired Applegate Ranger District timber sale manager Jerry Wojack, balloon logging came as close as Oakridge, just off Highway 58, in Oregon's central Cascades, and also on the timbered slopes of Oregon's central Coast Range. This was back in the late 1960s, said Wojack, who worked for the Forest Service for 34 years.

Although balloon logging evolved in Oregon, Sessions said, the practice never took off, as it was typically suitable only for clearcuts, still expensive, and overly fair-weather dependent.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to

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