Jen Boudevin

While lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his big, blue ox Babe are characters of myth, the sport of logging is no tall tale.

The Cal Poly Logging Team knows this firsthand, carrying on the legacy of traditional forestry field skills on campus.

The coed team has been a part of the natural resources management department for nearly three decades, competing in traditional lumberjack/lumberjill events, as well as in forestry-related technical events all while having a lot of fun in the process, said the team’s former co-president, Mike Papa.

The team recently competed in the annual Association of Western Forestry Club (AWFC) Conclave, where the Cal Poly Logging A-Team placed fifth overall. The Cal Poly Logging B-Team came in 12th.

The event, held March 22-24 at Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch, invited teams from forestry departments at universities in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and Utah to compete in a series of contests involving both physical skills and technical knowledge.

This year, 12 teams from 10 universities and community colleges entered 110 student loggers in three days of competition and contests including compass use, plant and tree identification, pole climbing, axe throwing and chopping, among others.

The event was “spectacular to say the least,” said Doug Piirto, the logging team IRA program manager. “I am very, very proud of the Cal Poly forestry and natural resources (FNR) and Logging Team students.”

When the team is not engaging in competition, its members keep busy with a number of exhibitions held throughout the school year. Logging Team students can also take the FNR 290 class, forestry skills, to enhance their abilities.

“The FNR 290 class meets a couple of times per week with scheduled practices as part of the class activities,” Piirto said in an e-mail, adding that the AWFC Conclave is one of the “learn-by-doing” activities the class provides.

The team sources and sells firewood annually as its main fund-raiser, and sets up a booth during Cal Poly’s Open House where anybody can try their hand at axe throwing.

For detailed results of the AWFC 2006 competition, including the results of individual Cal Poly competitors who placed in events, click here.

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