BLM logging trailhead with the help of horses, not machinery

Two Percheron horses pull a felled tree to the trail that got caught up in other trees. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

If you go down to Espey Trailhead at Cathedral Hills Park, you'll see a "Trail Closed to the Public" sign. The trail is closed on weekdays through May 30th because of horse logging.

Nick Rodgers and his nephew are helping log dead and dying trees thanks to the Flathead Wood Borer Beetle. Bureau of Land Management is calling some of the trees "hazardous" because they are dead or dying and could fall on the trail, injuring people, or could easily catch fire during fire season if there were to be a spark in that area.

Rodgers and his nephew are using horses, two black Percheron horses and one Belgian, to remove the salvageable trees while leaving the ones that are too rotted to take nature's course.

"Everybody's got to work together and like I said, it's a trust," Rodgers said. "It's a trust between the horses. They have to trust you if you hook them heavy, and they can't pull, they won't pull. They'll quit you. It's a trust level between them and us and us and them."

Rodgers is a 4th generation logger out of Butte Falls and has been horse logging consistently for the past year or so. He says the practice leaves less of an environmental footprint, is cheaper and easier to maneuver than using large machinery. He admits it is slower progress, but gets joy out of working with the animals regularly.

"It's going back to basics," Rodgers said. "America was built on horses. They have been used for war, for construction. This is America."

BLM anticipated falling about a truckload of trees, but have already surpassed that - not including the trees that cannot be salvaged.

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