Spring 2010

[Alumni News]

Janet McCrary Webb

Scaling the heights of the forestry business

Janet McCray Photo courtesy of Jason Doiy.

Janet McCrary Webb (‘83, Forestry) was recently named president of Big Creek Lumber Co. in Santa Cruz. The company is a longtime Mendocino County stalwart known for its strong environmental ethics. Although this position is new to her, her love of forestry began when she was just five years old.

“I have always been interested in the family business. I loved going to the sawmill with my dad on the occasional weekend and helping out where I could,” says Webb. When she was 15, Webb earned high school science and PE credits for working out on the log deck, helping scale logs or helping the foresters with odd jobs.

Webb never questioned where she would go to college. Her choice was clear: Humboldt State University. “I chose HSU because of its reputation for providing a practical education in the field of forestry and because of its proximity to managed redwood forests,” says Webb.

She made the most of her time in Humboldt. She loved her outdoor forestry class labs in the redwoods, working on area ranches, taking her two horses for rides on the beach and tagging along on fishing trips with friends. She even found time to play viola in the Humboldt County Symphony. Webb still remembers rich political and forestry practice discussions with then-Forestry chair Gerry Partain and talking world forestry issues with Professor Sin Meng Srun.

After graduation, Webb went home to the Santa Cruz Mountains and worked in Big Creek’s forestry department. Soon after, she became a licensed forester. She started working more closely with Big Creek’s sawmill production and lumber sales department and eventually started managing those departments.

Big Creek, the McCrary’s family business for six decades, was one of the first logging companies to selectively fell trees instead of clear-cutting. The company has received numerous awards for forest stewardship and environmentally conscious forestry: “Big Creek’s ethics stem from our family having lived in the area and our love for it,” she says. “We have a long-range perspective on our local surroundings, which is important in a field like redwood forest management.”