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An Adirondack logger keeps working in the woods

Logging and forest industries have a rich and storied past in the North Country. And while the heyday of logging in the Adirondacks is over, hundreds of people in the region still make a living cutting trees in the woods. Twenty-four-year-old Evan Nahor is one of them.

An early start

Nahor grew up just outside Old Forge in Thendara, and has always loved the woods. He had family members that worked in forestry, and in high school he worked for a logging company. He headed to the University of Maine for college, but came home to the Adirondacks each summer and worked for a logging contractor in Long Lake.

He says he “kind of fell in love with Long Lake,” and after he graduated from school, he moved to Long Lake.

Nahor works for an Adirondack contractor, Thomas Donnelly Logging, that works mostly between Long Lake and Tupper Lake. He says it was a natural fit for him, because he’s always been around the “forest products industry” and the woods where he’s always enjoyed recreating.

“And I’ve always been into machines” he admits, “and heavy machines, honestly, so that kind of has morphed into me pursuing a career in the woods.”

A day in the woods

One hundred years ago, Nahor would have used hand tools and horses. As a modern-day logger, he works on a much larger scale. It’s more technical and involves a lot more heavy machinery.

But one thing hasn’t changed — long days spent outside in the forest. Nahor says he works with a small crew, usually “just me and two other guys.” They’ll spend nine- to 10-hour days “skidding, loading trucks, cutting up wood, sending loads to the mill until 4 usually every day.”

Nahor says he loves the intensity and the physical nature of logging, and that he’s never stuck in a cubicle. His office is the outdoors.

“If you don’t bring it with you, you don’t have it. There’s no, ‘Oh, I forgot my water bottle,’ and I got to run back to the shop. You don’t get bothered by anyone; you’re out there working. Hard work, but it’s very rewarding to look at a log pile at the end of every day.”

Constant problem solving

The company Nahor works for doesn’t clear-cut the forest. They selectively cut, to try and preserve the woods and prevent erosion. Selectively harvesting wood and getting it out to the road leads to constant problem solving, which is Nahor’s favorite part of the job.

Recurring problems include, “Alright, we need to get an 18-wheeler into here, and get it turned around,” and, “We need to build a road, build a landing, build a turnaround!”

Nahor says in the winter, they’re often using roads you can hardly walk down in the summertime. It takes a lot of work to make them passable.

“Drain it, drag it, get the water off it so then we pack some snow into it, and then it freezes so it’s hard enough to drive a log truck on.”

Pandemic paper demand

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t changed Nahor’s work, but it did change how much he worked in 2020. Demand for paper plummeted in the spring and has stayed low. That’s meant smaller orders from one of Donnelly’s big customers, the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga.

Nahor says his company, and other regional logging businesses, have turned to other jobs to make ends meet, like excavation and demolition work.

This summer, also because of reduced hours, Nahor devoted more time to his side gig, a small firewood splitting and delivery business.

Now he’s back in the woods almost full-time, and tussling with a logger’s biggest opponent — the unpredictable weather.

“A truck got stuck today, twice. We had to mess around, reset a culvert because the truck went through the culvert. It’s an adventure, every day, for sure.”

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