The 85th annual Oregon Logging Conference in Eugene runs Thursday through Saturday at Lane Event Center and Fairgrounds. (Photo by Oregon Logging Conference)

The 85th annual Oregon Logging Conference this week at the Lane Event Center and Fairgrounds in Eugene will feature more displays and exhibitors this year, organizers announced.

The conference runs 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

“I think the increases this year are because of a combination of being able to gather in person, and the activities that are planned,” Oregon Logging Conference Manager Rikki Wellman said.

Displays featuring state-of-the-art logging and forestry equipment is a popular part of the event. This year’s theme is “Green Trees Matter. Health Forest = Health Future.”

Oregon Logging Conference President Craig Olson said the theme speaks to the core of the industry. 

“More than ever, today we recognize the importance of our forests and the products they provide,” Olson said. “This reinforces something we’ve known all along — that we are an essential industry in today’s world.”

Travis Joseph, president and chief executive officer of the American Forest Resource Council, will serve as the keynote speaker. Joseph will speak at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with a presentation that includes reference to global environmental and forestry trends, highlighting progress and success in natural resources management.

Joseph’s talk will also place Oregon’s forestry conflicts into a larger context, with updates on recent national and local laws that impact the forest sector, workers and communities.

The OLC includes a full schedule on its website.

The conference on Friday features Future Forestry Workers Career Day and Philomath High School forestry students are scheduled to participate. The event provides students with information about current jobs available and the skills needed to fill those positions.

Organizers said 875 high school students from 30 schools are expected to attend to learn about forestry and logging, wildland firefighting, diesel mechanics, welding and heavy equipment operation.

A high school logging and forestry skills competition will also be part of the event, where students may observe activities that include cable splicing, choker setting, crosscut and single buck sawing, compass and pacing, tool identification and log scaling.

The conference on Friday will also include the popular Log Loader Competition, which tests the skills of log loader operators in the areas of speed, skill and efficiency. Operating a Link-Belt log loader, contestants have 7 minutes to stack log blocks end-to-end, matching numbers or colors on predetermined marks on the ground.

On Saturday, the conference will have Family Day from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Wheeler Pavilion. Family Day includes paper making, birdhouse building and other hands-on activities. Admission is free.