Since the largest wildfire in Texas history, an affected Bastrop County couple has worked to harvest, transport, mill, and are currently rebuilding their home from the timber on their Lost Pines property. With a creative and pioneering spirit to construct their home from the scorched trees, they are personally rebuilding from the ashes. Blessed by the relationship with a local sawmill, they are maximizing the wood resources in as many ways possible for construction and finishes.
Five years ago, my husband Robert
and I left the fast paced urban life for a quiet, simpler one. We moved from Dallas to follow our dream of
rural living, a beautiful place to raise a family, and pursue our artistic
endeavors. Just outside Bastrop, we
found sanctuary on seven acres of heavily wooded Lost Pines forest. Our home
was a modest two bedroom house and the perfect starter home. We settled in well
into our new life, made new friends, and quickly fell in love with all the
small town charms of Bastrop. Prior to
our first child’s birth in 2009, we made improvements to our property,
renovations to our home, and had built a sculpture workshop for our art enterprise,
MorzArt. Life in our Lost Pines home had become the peaceful life we had dreamt
up years prior. That all changed one
Sunday afternoon last fall when the Bastrop Complex Fire broke out Labor Day weekend,
and grew to be the largest property damaging fire in Texas history, which
ultimately destroyed nearly 1700 homes and claimed two lives.
September 13, 2011
Like many citizens affected by
the history making wildfires in Bastrop County, Texas, we were left wondering
what to do with over 300 dead standing pine trees that remained after the fire
destroyed our family’s home and art studio.
Picking up the pieces after losing one’s home certainly is an
emotionally challenging life event.
Combine that with 95% loss of our forest land and the cleanup measures
needed, the situation quickly seemed overwhelming. In an effort to not render our land useless
to tree hazards, we developed a strong desire to make good use of our loved and
lost Loblolly Pines. Through a friend, we learned of one local man’s mission; a
mission that offered us a new hope to the situation we faced regarding the
rebuilding of our home and a solution to our burned timber. We knew the timber was still viable, and our
strong desire to use them prompted us to contact Jim Leverett of Logs to Lumber,
Incorporated. What first started as a
desire has now grown to a mission compelling us to extremes… off-road extremes.
Jim Leverett founded Logs to
Lumber (L2L) in anticipation of and in response to the great need that would
arise as a result of the fires. His
organization is a grassroots, non-profit dedicated to “assist affected citizens
in the rebuilding effort by harvesting & utilizing the viable timber
resources of the Lost Pines.” Their
motto: “Our Resources Rebuilding Our Community”. According to the Logs to
Lumber website, “The mission of Logs to Lumber is to ‘find a way to convert
dead or dying trees scorched by the Bastrop County Complex Fire into something
that can be used to repair the damage done by that fire’. Logs to Lumber relies solely upon the
donations from caring citizens and volunteers to achieve this mission...donations
of timber, time, know-how, heavy equipment, and money help to achieve this
necessary mission for the benefit of our devastated community. The goal: Organize Logistics, Harvest the
Timber, Provide Lumber to the People.”
February 24, 2012
Upon meeting Leverett, we learned
that in the months following the fire, he had been working out the logistics of
timber donations, volunteer crews, donated equipment, and had worked out
arrangements with sawmills willing to trade out the burned timber for milled
lumber. The lumber generated will then be utilized in rebuilding efforts for affected
families. In a short time, Mr. Leverett had accomplished a lot of groundwork
towards his mission, and we knew that we had found the win-win solution that
was aligned with our goals concerning the arduous timber clean-up and
rebuilding of our home.
Leverett’s formation of an
impromptu logging operation was quite an ambitious undertaking, and with it, he
stressed the need for community supported efforts to achieve the L2L goals. Leverett has succeeded in bringing milled lumber back to
Bastrop, yet unfortunately he continues to hurdle obstacles related to
acquiring heavy equipment donations in order to manage the timber weight and
maneuver through the sandy soil of the forest.
With the massive need and quantity of acreage that Mr. Leverett has
access to, we recognized the importance of helping to him ramp up the harvesting
efforts. Believing in his mission, we felt that the L2L organization was not
getting the attention it warranted. With a limited amount of time to accomplish
the timber harvesting goal, we knew it was imperative to spread the word and
inform others of the Logs to Lumber’s important work within the community.
The challenge is a two day
competition to be held Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-27. During the “working hours” of 8:00 am to 6:00
pm, both days, competitors will be given the opportunity to work as little or
as much as they can to retrieve and deliver logs to loading zones. The challenge is a point-based competition,
where participants will earn points for logs they deliver. All logs will be cut in 21-foot lengths and
inches in diameter will determine the points awarded to vehicle teams. For
example, should a participating vehicle deliver an 8” log, they would earn 8
points; similarly, a 30 inch log = 30 points.
There are no limitations on the quantity or means by which participants
can retrieve logs in a pass of the circular course. We encourage participants
to gather teammates and to employ ingenuity and strategy to accomplish the
challenge mission. At the close of the two
day competition, the current winning prize for the vehicle with the most points
earned is $1,200.
We are currently making arrangements
for the challenge and prepping the course for log delivery efficiency. According to our Official Rules, “For the mission
to be successful, efficiency for a steady flow of deliveries is key….wide
pre-established lanes will be created for accessibility to logging area and
exits to loading zones. Trees will be
‘felled & bucked’ and logs ready to ‘grab-n-go’.”
From this event, we hope to
achieve a couple of primary goals.
Firstly, deliver as many logs as possible to the mill, and secondly,
bring attention to the Logs to Lumber mission and its important purpose for
healing our community.