Erin Bradetich (Forester)

Forester  

Idaho Forest Group forester and private log buyer Erin Bradetich always knew she’d end up working in the woods. At 23, she went to work for Stimson Lumber Company as a forester and one of their youngest employees, but her drive to work in the woods has been present from an even younger age.

“I grew up around forestry,” Erin recounts. “My father, Doug Bradetich, is a forester with Idaho Forest Group at their Chilco location, and my grandpa was a forester also, with Louisiana-Pacific. I remember my cousins logging all the time. I also used to love going to the mill office with Dad when I was very young, maybe 5 years old. I love being in the woods and being outside, and I remember thinking ‘This’ll be me someday’ when I was 4 or 5, going to work with my dad.”

Erin’s position as log buyer has her working with private forest landowners to have their property logged.  She evaluates the timber and provides an estimate of the volume and quality of timber and coordinates a logging contractor to harvest the property.  The logs go to one of the Idaho Forest Group sawmills. 

As a forester fresh out of school, Erin began her career working for Stimson Lumber Company, managing Stimson’s timberlands between St. Maries and the Potlatch-Moscow area to grow logs to run through Stimson’s lumber mills throughout the region. Her days were comprised of some email and office work, including sale write-ups and harvest mapping, prior to heading outside for the majority of her 9- or 10-hour workday. Once out on the ground, Erin spent her time laying out sales on site, flagging sale boundaries, marking streams and roads, and engaging in contract administration which varied by job site.

During her time at Stimson, Erin spent 75% of her time outside and loved being in the woods, working with the loggers. It was also important for her to be able to see the results of the management plan she helped implement.

Today Erin also does a good deal of public outreach, speaking at schools about forest management and what foresters do.  Erin volunteers to help with local forestry contests, field days and the Idaho Tree Farm Program and participates in the Intermountain Logging Conference held each spring.

“My favorite part of my job now is getting to work with the public and help private landowners through all the steps of harvesting their property and replanting for the future,” Erin said.

“My dad was definitely a major mentor,” Erin shares, “as was my mom’s dad, Ron McCormick. I’ve had some other great teachers too. The guys I’ve worked with in the past have all been very valuable. I spent 2 seasons at the Idaho Department of Lands in their Sandpoint office, and I learned a lot there. Greg Simmons, Stimson’s Area Forester on the Benewah Block, also taught me a lot. The crew that I work with now at Idaho Forest Group has made a major impact on my career as well.”

“We use a lot of technology in the woods,” she continues. “I use a handheld GPS unit in the field quite often to mark waypoints and to remind myself about boundaries, roads, water bodies, etc. and occasionally I will use a tablet for data recording. In the office, I use ArcMap 10.1 to create harvest maps, and I use my computer for timber sale write-ups and budgeting.”

Training and classroom time is definitely a requirement for a position like Erin’s. She has a bachelor’s degree in forest resources from the University of Idaho, and continuing education classes are important also. She still has time for hobbies, though.

“I ride horses, ski, and run half-marathons,” she relates. “I also hunt deer, and I fish . . . I do pretty much anything that gets me outside.”

“Anybody who wants to get into this line of work should get started right away, taking forestry-type classes, because having a college degree is absolutely beneficial,” she says. “In the summers, get a job with the Idaho Department of Lands, the US Forest Service, or a private company. The sooner you can start paying your dues in the brush and getting out there, the better. Communications skills are vital, so work on those, and get involved with Society of American Foresters or your school’s Logger Sports team. Get your name out there and start making connections. Do anything you can to be one step ahead of everyone else.”

Learn more about Idaho Forest Group: https://www.idfg.com/