Timber’s Term of the Week: Section 37

    Section 37


  1. Where all good bushelers go when they go beyond the vale.  A logger’s paradise where every tree is straight, tall, without flaws, and eight feet in diameter. And no underbrush, scalers, or inkslingers can be found: John’s gone to Section 37 and won’t be coming back.
  2. A mythical place.
  3. Something not supposed to exist: Let’s just say I found this in Section 37 and leave it at that, okay?

Why Section 37?
Pretty much all the arable land not within the original thirteen colonies is supposed to have been placed into a grid known as the Public Land Survey System. Its basic units of area are the township. Each township is supposed to have thirty-six sections.


If people were perfect and honest the sections could have looked like this.

Within a 6-mile by 6-mile township, the upper right section is Section 1 the section west of number is Section 2 (see image). The numbering moves left to all the way Section 6, the section south of Section 6 is section 7 and the number and progresses in a serpentine manner all the way to Section 36. There should be no Section 37.

There shouldn’t be any Sections numbered 37. However, anything people devise can be screwed up. Below is a map showing the sections of the Milk Ranch on Case Mountain in Tulare County, California. Not many perfect squares in the bunch.

Sections 37 do exist.

Sections 37 do exist. Click on the map to expand it and look northeast of Hammond.

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Tree Seedlings Available for Planting on California’s Post-Fire Forest Restoration

California experienced a severe fire season last year. Many thousands of forested acres have burned both on private and public lands.

CAL FIRE assistance programs can help California forest landowners whose forests were affected by fires. One of these programs is the Tree Seedling Nursery Program. This program sells tree seedlings for reforesting forest ownerships. Tree seedlings are available to the public for reforestation, erosion control, watershed protection, windbreaks, Christmas tree and fuelwood plantations, and approved research projects. All seedlings grown are from seed well adapted to the various climate zones, growing conditions and elevations found within the state.

At present, CAL FIRE Magalia Reforestation Center still has good inventories of appropriate seedlings available. Yet, demand may overwhelm the supplies. Therefore, landowners need to first check with the Magalia Reforestation Center’s staff to determine what is available and before submitting their orders.

The CAL FIRE Nursery Program also has a staff of foresters who can provide free reforestation advice to landowners. In addition to these foresters, CAL FIRE has forestry assistant specialists at most local Unit Offices who can also provide free reforestation advice or direct individuals to the type of professional consultant they may need to assist them. These specialists also can provide information on limited State or Federal cost-share funding that may be available.

Keep in mind, seedling prices vary by age (one or two year old), how they were grown (bareroot or in containers) and by the quantity purchased. Seedlings grown cover the majority of California’s timberland conifer species, with a few hardwoods and some non-natives grown for specific landowner objectives.

For more information, please contact the Magalia Reforestation Center at 6640 Steiffer Road, Magalia, 95954, Phone: (530) 872-6301 (email: cdfnursery@fire.ca.gov).

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Timber’s Term of the Week: Skid Road

How did skid road morph into skid row?

Webster’s Online Dictionary defines a “skid road” as:

A road made of logs on which freshly cut timber can be hauled.

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines a “skid road” as:

A road along which logs are skidded.

The California Board of Forestry defines skid roads (or tractor roads) as “constructed trails or established paths used by tractors or other vehicles for skidding logs.” (Source: Title 14, California Code of Regulations Chapters 4, 4.5 and 10)

To move logs from where the trees are cut, loggers attach cables to the logs then drag or “skid” the logs down to a landing where the loader arranges the logs by size into decks. Nowadays loggers use powerful skidding machines. The older or more traditional form of the term is the version given by the Webster’s Online Dictionary. When animals such as oxen, horses, or mules pulled the logs, the roads were constructed differently. The loggers placed peeled logs at right angles across the road. Loggers could grease the skids to make the hauling of the logs easier.

These corduroy roads led to the mill, often at the edge of town. Hence, the skid road led to skid row where establishments could help the “boomer” make his “pung” less bulky: a place with cheap boarding houses and saloons for male entertainment.

For more on “Skid Road” and “Skid Row,” see the Past Tense blog or Bill Casselman’s Word of the Day for how logging shaped the history of Vancouver, BC.  The late John Ciardi also talked about skid roads and skid row on NPR: On Words with John Ciardi; the episode is on “Siwash: Origin and Use of Tribe Name.

Leave me a note if you can add more or want to know what boomer or pung means.

Here’s a skidder demonstration. Note the grapple used to lift the log ends into the air.

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