President, Wetsel-Oviatt Lumber
by Pat McConahay
Wetsel every day is literally a walk in the woods. That's
because the towering trees are his, part of an 18,000-acre spread in
El Dorado and Amador counties. He's the roll-up your sleeves president
of one of the last small timber companies in California -- one that
stands out for its unique ability to balance profit and preservation.
founded by Cecil's father, Cecil Senior, and partner Glenn Oviatt in
1939. Like his dad, Cecil, Jr. is holding his own in the face of mounting
timber regulations and pressure from environmental interests.
Spend time with
Wetsel, and it's clear he sees himself as a stweard of the land -- and
that sense of stewardship is a key reason Wetsel was the first timberman
named Agriculturalist of the Year, an award bestowed upon him in 2002
by the California State Fair Board of Directors. In Wetsel's own words:
"You cannot be a true agriculturalist without caring as much for
the land as you do for the crops that you produce."
For every tree Wetsel
harvests he plants 12 new ones. That's more than the required seven.
And he dotes on every young tree by clearing away unwanted brush to
make sure they have room to grow and flourish. The care Wetsel takes
in the forest also finds expression in the way he handles the logs that
come into his sawmill east of Sacramento. Wetsel-Oviatt is a small,
efficient operation that produces enough lumber each year for two thousand
Cecil Wetzel is
a timber operator for the new millennium, carefully managing his forests
for generations to come.