Don Fulton, 83, was born in Sonora, has lived in Groveland since he was 5, and recently accepted an award naming him 2016 Logger of the Year at the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference in Redding.
Fulton, who’s been running his Groveland business, Fulton Trucking, for decades, was nominated for the award by Jack Thornburg of Columbia Helicopters. Forester Jeff Gletne of Sierra Forest Products said Fulton was recognized in part for working 50 years in the logging and trucking industry as of this year.
“He started it from nothing,” Don’s son, Steve Fulton, 55, said Thursday. “We’re into the logging end of it now. We have one truck at this point. We contract with SPI to haul trees, skid’em, load’em, deck’em, you name it.”
Fulton Trucking is off Highway 120, and the business employs 14 people, Steve Fulton said.
“Back in the ’70s and ’80s, we had close to 50 people working for us,” Steve Fulton said. “Times change, and the equipment changes, everything got mechanized. We have fewer employees now, but we’re still here.”
Don Fulton began working with one truck for Pickering Lumber Co., which used to be in Standard where Sierra Pacific Industries is now, Steve Fulton said. Steve Fulton and his sister, Shelley, operate Fulton Trucking these days.
Gletne presented the award to Don Fulton. He said the Sierra Cascade Logging Conference has been presenting its Logger of the Year Award since 1991.
Don Fulton has much in common with other loggers, Gletne said.
“As I was gathering information from the family and friends of this year’s recipient, it struck me that he shares many of the traits that we have all seen in loggers over the years,” Gletne said when he presented the award.
“He is resourceful. If something breaks and he can’t find a part, he builds a substitute himself,” Gletne said.
“Like a lot of loggers, he can be a little stubborn and hard-headed,” Gletne said. “He got pulled over by a CHP one day while headed down the hill with a load of logs. The cop said he was just giving him a warning to stay on his own side of the road.
Fulton asked the Highway Patrol officer how he knew he had crossed over the center line, and the officer told him he had seen the tracks in the rain.
“Not thinking much of the cop’s investigative skills, our logger of the year started an argument which almost ended up costing him a few more bucks,” Gletne said.
“Loggers can also be fearless, sometimes to the point of being foolish,” Gletne said. “One night, his camp trailer started rocking and rolling. He jumped out of bed and looked out the window to see which one of his crew members was playing a not-so-funny joke on him. Well, he found himself eye to eye with a big old bear. Rather than getting dressed and getting a flashlight and a gun, our fearless logger grabbed a knife off the counter and charged out the door in his underwear. That was the last time that bear was seen in camp.”
When Don Fulton accepted the 2016 Logger of the Year Award on Feb. 11, he had generations of family with him.
“We were all there with him, 15 of us,” Steve Fulton said. “Three of his children, some grandkids and great-grandkids.”
Mike Albrecht, of Sierra Resource Management outside Jamestown, was named 2013 Logger of the Year by the same organization. Albrecht said Don Fulton is the fifth Tuolumne County resident to win the award. Other previous winners from Tuolumne County are Joe Martin, Wilbur Black and Richard Pland.
“It’s a wonderful statewide recognition for Don,” Albrecht said. “It was a big surprise for him.”