Members of the Cal Forestry Club trekked into the Sierra Nevada foothills Monday to harvest trees for their annual holiday tree sale.
About 15 members of the organization participated in the harvest, called “the cut,” which has been a club fundraising tradition and bonding activity for dozens of years, according to UC Berkeley junior and club member Julian Bauer.
“We’re in an isolated environment doing intense manual labor, falling up to thigh-high snow with each step, cutting down trees with hand saws and then dragging them back to the cars,” said UC Berkeley senior and club vice president Natalie Holt. “I don’t know of any other activity that brings people together like that.”
This year, club members brought 427 trees back to Berkeley to be sold near the south side of Mulford Hall during the club’s sale that began Tuesday.
Much of the money raised during the sale will go toward sending about a dozen Cal Forestry members to the Society of American Foresters Convention, which takes place each fall. Club members attend the convention not only to hear presentations on topics such as climate change but also to network with industry professionals.
Holt said the club raised about $9,000 last year and has raised about $4,000 this year as of Wednesday morning. The trees are sold for $6 per foot during the sale, which is staffed in shifts by club members.
The club has an arrangement with Sierra Pacific Industries, a forest products company that employs many UC Berkeley alumni and former Cal Forestry members, to gather the trees. The harvest works in sync with the Aspen Restoration Project, a Sierra Pacific initiative that aims to make aspens the dominant species in a small portion of the company’s land.
Because conifers compete with aspen for optimal growing conditions, the company allows Cal Forestry to remove conifers from a particular section of its land free of charge, bring them back to Berkeley and sell them.
“We go in and take what we need until the truck is full,” Holt said. “We love being up there. It’s our thing.”
The project is one of Sierra Pacific’s larger operation and management efforts, Holt said.
Club members had to postpone this year’s cut by two days due to a heavy snowstorm that produced several feet of snow and icy roads that would have been dangerous to drive on, Holt said.
Second-time customer and Berkeley resident Eric Din said he came back to the sale this year because he was satisfied with the authenticity of the trees.
“I just love the concept and the trees,” Din said. “I prefer to get one that actually looks like a real tree instead of a manicured ornament tree.”