Mountain Clearing and Brushing Inc.
Les Day reckons he travels 60,000 miles a year. What is it that takes this 32-year-old away so much from his Penn Valley home?
The story begins some years ago when he was working as an assistant forester. He and a logger friend Dave Lee, 25 years in the business, kept noticing the amount of fuel loading that had accumulated and realized the extent of the fire danger it represented.
There’s a need there, they said, so they immediately started a business (in 1999) to get rid of brush and trees that presented a threat. “We ‘demoed’ a masticator,” says Day, “then bought one, and within four months had given up our regular jobs. By the next summer we had three of them.” Obviously, there was a huge need.
Day’s and Lee’s business Mountain Clearing and Brushing, Inc. has been going strong ever since.
Starting in residential work, the word got out and before they knew it Mountain Clearing and Brushing had more business than it could handle. “It was kind of scary,” says Day, “because we couldn’t keep up with the growth. These machines aren’t cheap and the crews need months of training.” But they overcame the money and training challenge, and the business stabilized to the point that last summer they even added salvage (dead and dying trees) logging.
What keeps Day on the road now is visiting sites to make bids on, and overseeing the many crews that are working simultaneously around the state, doing the clearing for such clients as home owners, home owner associations, private timberland owners, the Forest Service, and state parks. Some jobs, like canyon work with up to 51% slopes, require the big masticator, which cost $300,000 and despite its immense weight of 170,000 pounds, applies only 7 pounds per square inch. And some jobs, like the 150 acres in Alturas, are cleared by hand crews that can number anywhere from 6 to 30 people.
Day’s biggest challenge is the people who work for him. Not only the cost and paperwork of worker’s compensation, but finding them in the first place. “We hire word of mouth,” he says. It doesn’t matter to him where a person comes from, as long as he’s open to doing such things as living in the woods for three months at a time, and is able to learn how to drive the masticators. For logging, the company hires subcontractors, “a great group of guys, some of the best loggers in the county,” says Day. “Subs are what make us a great company. They count on me to keep them busy. My sole purpose is getting jobs.” This large network of subs and associate companies Day works with means a lot of money being pumped into the local economy here.
The nature of Day’s business is job security, big time; indeed, the company motto is: Our business is always growing. “Look, for instance,” he says “at the 49er fire fuel. It’s grown back.” About every five years fuel clearing needs to be done again.
How serious is the situation? “Fifteen million acres in 18 of our Sierra region counties,” says Day, “have fuel problems.
“Our population is growing. Places like Rough and Ready with their 15 feet tall manzanita trees are ready to burn again. Nevada City, Banner Mountain (like the Oakland hills)”are all in danger.”
To help neighborhoods assess, such fire hazards, Day, in his capacity as educator on the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, is happy to go on location and give you some advice. If the job is big enough (1/2 acre or over), and the budget can handle anywhere from $450 an acre to $1,200 an acre for a masticator, then Day’s company could be the one for you, or he can help locate one. To take advantage of this service, call the council at 470-9193, or go on the web at: http://www.firesafecouncilnevco.com.
Day can also come up with creative solutions, such as goats to eat underbrush, which is exactly what is happening on a developer’s property next door to Lake Wildwood. One hundred goats are taking care of 120 acres at a quarter of the cost. Now that’s outside the box, green thinking for you.
“Our vision,” says the company’s mission statement, “is to become one of the largest if not the largest mechanical vegetation contractor in California that specializes in the control of undesirable vegetation and mechanical logging.” While it’s a tough business to make a profit in, Day says there’s a good chance they’ll make a profit this year. A lot of hard work that finally pays off.
Mountain Clearing &
Brushing, Inc. 273-8370;
email: firstname.lastname@example.org n
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User