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A man stands smiling in a forest clearing, with a large red industrial wood chipper behind him.

Peterson Timber, Inc. - Corning, CA

Making the world a better place one tree at a time

In today’s day in age, finding a successful business owner under the age of 30 is few and far between. Yet, Zane Peterson is making the world a better place one tree at a time.

Zane, a Redding native, is the owner of Peterson Timber Inc., a fuel reduction business for preventing forest fires, located in Tehama County. In Zane’s line of work, he aims to thin the forest to help with forest management and has diversified to include contract logging and harvesting, orchard and brush removal, as well as land clearing services.

Peterson Timber Inc. was first established in 2016 when Zane was just a sophomore in college. Zane had heard of a local power plant in need of wood chips, and he was working in the industry as a log buyer for a small-scale sawmill. While in this position, he had been introduced to several connections in the industry and decided to seize the opportunity to start Peterson Timber Inc. 

Zane teams up with Sierra Pacific Industries and CalFire to space the bigger trees out to help forest conditions thrive and reduce the damage done by a possible fire. Simultaneously, he is helping provide power to homes and businesses every day by turning the removed trees into biomass woodchips and then selling them to a local cogen plant.

“We already have these great machines that are called trees that take in CO2 and create oxygen,” Zane said. “When those trees are stagnated and growing slow, they’re not taking in as much carbon. When we’re out here thinning the forest, we’re allowing the natural system to work better to clean more carbon out of the air.”

On top of that, the environmental benefits as a result of the work being done by Peterson Timber Inc. are incredibly substantial. By removing the larger trees, brush is better able to grow for wildlife to eat. More water is able to run through the aquifers, and the habitat can go back into its more natural state of over 100 years ago, which benefits all living things.

“People don’t realize, often times the forest that they’re looking at, the reason they’re there and still green is because there was logging and there was forest management,” he said.

When Zane began operations seven years ago, he did not realize the positive impact the logging industry also has on providing jobs in Northern California.

“For every load that goes down the hill, there’s five or six people that touch that,” Zane said. “At the end of the day, our company supports between 75 and 100 jobs in northern California and provides an economic impact of $10-15 million per year.”

One of the most challenging aspects of being a twenty-something-year-old business owner was getting the capital needed to start the business. At first, Peterson Timber Inc. was just a brokering business because Zane could not get the funds to purchase a log loader and drum chipper. That was until Golden State Farm Credit stepped in.

“When we started, we just needed two pieces of equipment to go, and Farm Credit was able to do that for us, and that really gave us the foothold at the right time to propel our business to what it is now,” Zane said.

Zane was eligible for Farm Credit’s Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Program, which provides support to the next generation of agriculturists, like Zane, who are just entering the agricultural industry, expanding or transferring a current operation, which Golden State Farm Credit knows can be tough these days.

For many financing institutions, believing in Zane’s vision is not something that is easily understood, but for Golden State Farm Credit, it just made sense.

“A lot of banks, I couldn’t tell that story to,” Zane said. “With Farm Credit, I was able to tell the story of our business to.”