“Somewhere between a hippie and a cowboy.” That’s how Jim Zacharias describes himself. Dressed in his ripped logging attire you wouldn’t guess that he’s on the Wallowa Resource Board—or any board for that matter. There’s a large hole in the right shoulder of his collared white and baby blue stripped shirt. A shock of greyed hair reaches for his neck from underneath a Jay Zee Lumber ball cap that might once have been black.
As a high schooler, Zacharias contemplated being a wildlife biologist, but like many of his classmates he decided to become a logger which allowed him to stay in the county. After losing his mill job in the 90’s timber bust, he started the Joseph Timber Company, the first mechanical thinning operation on public land in the county. Now he owns a custom logging company which has a contract with a private ranch to extract $50,000 worth of timber annually. As a small-scale logger, Zacharias made a point of showing us the line between the property he selectively cuts and the property the Hancock Investment Group recently clearcut. In contrast to the outsider group, his company elects to leave snags for wildlife habitat. Hoping to dispel misconceptions about loggers, he told us, “Even the biggest, roughest, toughest logger, if he sees a birds nest in that tree, he kind of cringes.”
By: Griffin Cronk