G. Robert Baker, or G-Bob, as most people refer to him, has been a self-employed logging contractor since 1976. Currently living in Saratoga County with his wife, Gabrielle, G-Bob owns his own company: Baker Forest Products. Gabrielle, a local pre-school teacher, has worked at their church’s nursery school program for the past several years. With two of their children gone and two still living at home, the couple is now preparing to celebrate twenty-eight years of marriage. Allison, the oldest child, followed in her mother’s footsteps and is now an elementary school teacher. Brandon is currently completing an electrical workers apprenticeship after having graduated from Paul Smith with two degrees in Fish & Wildlife and Surveying. Ashley is finishing her final year in nursing (RN) school, while Lindsay has recently completed her second year at SUNY Cortland.

For his own part G-Bob did some post-grad work after graduating from the University of Northern Colorado with a liberal arts major and a double minor in biology and chemistry. Still not sure what profession best suited him, G-Bob returned to the East Coast and took a short-term job with a Vermont logger in 1972. Having loved the experience, he decided to purchase a used skidder after finding an advertisement in the local paper. That same year, 1976, G-Bob left Maine, where he had been living, and returned home to New York.

As he embarked on his new-found profession with visions of grandeur, G-Bob quickly realized that he wasn’t going to be the area’s biggest contractor any time soon, since he was continuously buying equipment. Now, however, G-Bob runs a successful business, Baker Forest Products, which caters to various property sizes. While a number of logging jobs are relatively small, only about five acres in area, G-Bob also has clients who require rotational thinning on 600-acre properties. With an entire career revolving around woodlot management, G-Bob finds most foresters and landowners to be excellent stewards and enjoys working on projects with them.

Having had two to three kids in college simultaneously for the last eight to ten years, and given current market conditions, G-Bob doesn’t see himself retiring from the logging profession anytime soon. While the job is physically demanding, he finds that it keeps him healthy and being his own boss is a great perk. Despite the recent economic downturn, G-Bob has yet to see a decline in his year-round business, as he already has jobs booked out for the next few years. Unfortunately, he surmises that scheduled harvests may be postponed if owners are forced to renegotiate stumpage prices to avoid selling timber into a poor market.

Aside from running his own business, G-Bob is also on the board of New York Logger Training (NYLT). Established in the early 90’s, the NYLT is a statewide organization offering logger education, primarily in safety procedures, first aid and CPR, as well as forest ecology, silviculture and BMP’s. The organization aims to not only provide a safer workplace for loggers, but to also improve professionalism and public image. G-Bob has also been on the Northeastern Loggers Association board for the past six years and is their representative to the American Loggers Council, a national organization of timber harvesters.

Additionally, G-Bob is a member of the Southern Adirondack Chapter of NYFOA. Though he joined over a dozen years ago, his schedule has never permitted him to hold office. G-Bob keeps busy with various NYFOA activities, including co-leading woodswalks on properties he has logged. Though he has yet to lead a woods-walk on his personal property, G-Bob owns 100 acres of land that he purchased in 1978. Originally farmland, the primary eighty acres was in transition when G-Bob bought it, and is now a combination of white pine and mixed northern hardwoods grown in Windsor sand gravel. G-Bob has done many mini cuts over the years, harvesting a few loads of logs almost annually after taking time in the spring to pick and choose what trees to harvest. While it helps pay the property taxes, he wouldn’t recommend doing this for the majority of properties as it increases residual damage.

Christmas trees, including spruces and balsam firs, have also been planted on the property, though it is more of a hobby for G-Bob. While he harvests and sells some of the trees, visitors are also allowed to pick and harvest trees of their liking. G-Bob also manages three bee hives on the property, though he has never made a habit out of harvesting the honey. Instead, the apiaries help facilitate pollination on the property.

Despite his success with white pine and Christmas tree planting, G-Bob experienced disappointment when a planting of black walnuts failed a few years ago. G-Bob attributes the failure to unsuitable soil composition and believes that your site structure dictates what species will grow best. In the late 90’s, G-Bob was forced to throw away a good deal of market-sized Douglas firs after they became diseased.

The eighty acres was also part of a “SIP Grant,” a federal program for wildlife habitat improvement. As part of the program, G-Bob removed four acres of low-grade pole timber and planted crab apple, European larch and imperial clover. The clover successfully served as a cover crop for several years, but eventually failed. Now he is trying to plant alfalfa, but with limited success. Nonetheless, G-Bob has noted an increase in wildlife on the property.

The remaining twenty acres of property is mountainous forest land and includes a few feeder springs that dry up after springtime. The area includes one nice stand of timber that is now gorgeous red oak and hemlock, after G-Bob removed 50,000 board feet of diseased beech from the area in 1974. The twenty-acre area is located approximately five miles from where he currently lives. G-Bob also manages an additional 200 acre property in conjunction with his siblings. His father, who had a love of land, inherited much of the property, though he bought additional pieces. G-Bob has done similar wildlife habitat improvements on these areas, but not to the same extent as on his own property. Nonetheless, managing the additional acres of land while also tending to his own property and running Baker Forest Products keeps G-Bob busy year-round.

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