Pat Carlock was chosen by the National Tree Farm System as "Idaho Logger of the Year."

With the growing pressure on loggers to protect the environment, Carlock has shucked the old logging techniques and embraced those that employ a light hand on the land.He pointed out the modern techniques last week in a tour of a 200,000-board-foot harvest of insect-killed ponderosa pine trees bordering his land along Squaw Creek in southwestern Idaho.

His objective was to keep soil erosion to a minimum and prevent debris from washing into the stream, which drains the east side of Squaw Butte near Emmett.

"We took a few trees here and a few trees there, and we left the riparian values intact," Carlock said. "We hauled the logs over the hill so we didn't have to cross the creek."

As a teenager about 30 years ago, Carlock said, he helped log the same area for his uncle. In those days, loggers took the most direct route to log landings; environmental concerns weren't given a thought on private land.

"We just skidded the logs and drove our tractors right across the creek," he said. "Boy, we've come around 180 degrees from those days."

State Forester John Roberts said he nominated Carlock for the award "because of the overall quality of his harvest operations, but especially because of the huge amount of effort that Pat puts into his relationship with the small, private timber owner."

Carlock said he spends about 20 percent of his time logging private woodlots.

Roberts is a state forest practices officer who has supervised Carlock's logging operations for the past two years. Carlock's wealth of knowledge about logging allows him to bridge the myriad concerns raised by individual landowners, Roberts said.

Some, for example, want their property logged, but they don't want to see the log haul roads, they don't want their view changed, and they don't want their apple trees crushed by heavy equipment.

"Pat takes all of his time making sure the landowner is happy," Roberts said. "It's a micro-management kind of thing."

Roberts said Carlock's attention to detail applies to all of his jobs.

"I live up here," Carlock said. "I don't want to muck up the creek or ruin the view. We're trying to do what's right. But we don't get much credit for that."

In the case of his own logging project last summer - one of about 10 he conducted last year - Western pine beetles were ravaging his ponderosa pine trees.

"The bugs are really wiping out this country," he said. "About half the trees were hit by bugs. When the bugs move in, you've got to thin out the stand or it will all go to the bugs."

To protect the environment on that sale, Carlock installed rolling dips in the log roads to divert water runoff and avoid washouts, seeded roads with grass to stabilize the soil until the next logging job and skidded logs uphill with cable systems.