Timber Corporations vs. Timber Workers

By David Peltier of Waldport, Oregon. David describes himself as "a 50 year young radical progressive tree farmer, house-builder, social worker."

President Bush cares for the timber corporations, not the timber workers.

Mr. Bush is clueless on how to preserve our world-class forests. We must not cut ANY old-growth trees in Oregon. This genetic legacy is for all of us. We must proect ourselves from tree diseases. We must reduce invasive species. We must create forest restoration jobs, and sustainable forestry jobs for our rural people. We must reduce forestry fuels carefully and appropriately, creating jobs. We cannot tolorate any more boom and bust forest economic cycles; these enrich aloof, unaccountable corporate elites and hurt our communities and working families.

We need to plant billions of trees for future generations. Clearcuts hurt the land. We must encourage selective cutting, and protection of riparian areas, wildlife corridors, and places of special botanical importance.

Comments

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    From a rural Democratic viewpoint, David Peltier is exactly right in framing these issues as corporate versus worker. Past practices have been based upon coming into an area, cutting to the ground, and leaving either forcing the worker to move with the company, or to find other work in a now depressed economy.

    Rural people enjoy clean air, clean water, and the diversity of the forests as much as anyone else. But our lives are tied to the economics of our communities. Reaching a sustainable timber harvest level would make what timber mills there are permanent employers versus short term employers. A stable rural economy would be so much better than the boom/bust cycle we have had in the past.

    This vision of community stability and all that follows should be framed as a Democratic Party vision. Stable economy then equals stable funding for schools and services. Stable economy supports families over generations. Stable economy is a family value.

  • Gregor (unverified)
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    It's not specific to the timber industry that the workers receive no consideration from this administration, or Conservative Republicans in general.

    As for saving anything environmental, I have absolutely no clue why anyone would willingly surrender their environment to support some corporation's profits and a short term economic gain. The money disappears as soon as the trees are gone and trees of that quality won't be back in our lifetime.

    Frankly, the corporate types who practice clear cutting are merely parasites, because they leave their host devoid of life when they leave and move to their next victim. I find it greatly irritating that these types declare they need those few extra trees to survive, or to make a profit. More accurately, their quest is MORE profit. They will not miss lunch if they leave a few trees behind.

    Now there's the program that works the way the Republicans intend, No Tree Left Behind.

  • Rodney (unverified)
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    I think that the anti-logging point of view would be a lot more palatable to rural Oregonians if the feds/state could come up with alternative ideas that would provide good jobs in these areas.

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    Northwest Environment Watch's Cascadia Scorecard has the best information I've found about forestry issues for our bioregion.

  • Lyndon Ruhnke (unverified)
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    David's guest column is not anti-logging, but for sustainability and the future. It is important for folks to realize that not every person who is against clear cutting or for land use that is more land/fish/plant/human/future friendly is against rural communities. Rural economies certainly benefit from stopping resource abuse.

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    Yeah, in the brave new world, the children of loggers are assured of a bright future cleaning toilets and serving lattes to urban eco tourists on their annual pilgrimage to commune with nature. Plenty of good jobs for all.

    Steve makes some good points. From the fourth through sixth grade, I worked with my dad and his partner logging around the Coos Bay area. In those days the loggers and the millworkers saw the big logging corporations as the enemy.

    By the mid seventies, these same loggers and millworkers were being called thirty kinds of dirty names and accused of all kinds of eco crimes by snot nosed college kids who had read "Silent Spring", "Ecotopia", and the "Monkey Wrench Gang".

    Those college kids are all grown up now and still vilifying the rubes for their stupidity. The environmental movement just ran that Measure 34 initiative in the last election. The canvassers that I talked to, another brain dead generation of "True Believers" knew nothing about the tillamook issue beyond what they'd been spoon fed by their (presumably) Boomer ecotrainers.

    Last week I read in the Oregonian that trees 20" in diameter were the new defenition of "Old Growth", although the person commenting allowed as how they had to reach 30" in diameter to create a multi storied canopy. This is "framing" at its most dishonest and destructive.

    There will be no solutions as long as the Triumphal Enviro Left is incapable of honestly discussing useful logging options that include clear cutting (yes Mabel, there are large sections of the coast and arguably some of the valley where clear cutting small non-contiguous tracts would actually be beneficial or would do little harm), thinning, replanting, as well as using new tech to capture more fiber from the same acre.

    It looks to me that a lot of them, like the Religious Right are no longer capable of finding the Truth, as they are blinded, Like the Religious Right, by their own mythology.

  • Chris (unverified)
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    Right on Pat.

    In reference to Steve's comment: I wholeheartedly disagree with your assertion that "Past practices have been based upon coming into an area, cutting to the ground, and leaving either forcing the worker to move with the company, or to find other work in a now depressed economy." That simply isn't true (unless you define an area as one hillside and define leaving as moving twenty or forty miles to the next job). I don't know where this notion came from but it is largely untrue. Of course I am willing to listen if you can present evidence that this actually happened regularly. With the exeption of public lands which have been essentially locked up, we are still harvesting in all the areas we have ever harvested in Oregon (with the possible exception of some marginal private lands located in areas where the only mills were dependent on public timber which is now unavailable, thereby making the mills unviable and current harvest of the private lands impossible, since no market (mill) exists anymore).

    However I agree with Steve that economic stability should be a Democratic issue. I get so tired of trying to get Democrats to take up economic issues and make them our own. For too long, the Republicans have been seen as the pro-economic party.

    To that end, it should be noted that we currently don't come even close to approaching a sustainable harvest level off our public lands or our public and private aggregate. I for one, do not believe that public forests exist to create jobs. I believe that they should be governed democratically and if the people want to set aside old growth then that will should be done. I just wish that the public were more factually aware of the reality of our forest landscapes.

    Gregor said: "Frankly, the corporate types who practice clear cutting are merely parasites, because they leave their host devoid of life when they leave and move to their next victim."

    I'm sure the inflammatory language is heartfelt, but I question Gregor's assertion that the "host is left devoid of life". Certainly the ecosystem is dramatically changed. And it then takes a new shape. But to insinuate that it is gone forever is disingenuous. Things keep growing and new life arises. I'm not sure what is inherently bad or evil about changing our landscape. When trees are cut, it hurts some creatures and benefits others. And the ecosystem continues to evolve over the next 70 years until the trees are harvested again. There is nothing parasitic about responsible stewardship of our resources. If you want old grwoth ecosystems, then simply manage the public rotation to 200 years instead of 70 like private timber does.

    Some people may have a problem with killing plants and animals. For them, preservation is a value. I don't have a problem with that as long as that value is an informed one. But as a party which also champions the plight of the poor, Democrats shouldn't forget that anti-timber measures only make lumber and therefore the cost of building housing more expensive.

    As a partner and manger of a small forest products company, it is frutrating to hear so many talk about that which they know so little. The rhetoric of the radical enviro left is getting old already and hasn't fooled many who actually live in rural timber-dependent Oregon.

    Personally, I think that "framing" as presented by Lakoff has its limits. You can frame this as a "corporation versus worker" issue, but it probably won't sell because it lacks much truth.

    Ask those long time union employees of Weyerhaueser (the largest private timber owner in Oregon) whether their company has been good to them. I haven't met one yet who would say otherwise. I'm sure they exist, but I am also sure they are fewer than the company loyalists.

    With regards to the illusion that logging old growth benefits big corporations, here is a little timber econ 101.

    When the old growth was locked up in the late 80's and early 90's it was "Big Timber" that benefitted the most. When there were suddenly fewer trees available to support the existing mills, timber values skyrocketed; benefitting all the families and corporations who owned big parcels of timber. The compnies who were integrated and had their own mills gor hurt a lot in their mills, but more than made up for it if they owned their own trees. They could shut down mills to stop the losses but ht etress just kept growing. It is the small family owned mills that don't own their own timber that most often take it in the shorts from supply constrictions. It is also those type of mills that stand to gain the most from logging on public lands because they can bid for that wood just as well as the big boys.

    There is no doubt that sustainabilty is important to our landscape, both economically and environmentally. It is very possible to believe in responsible stewardship and sustainability but not be anti timber, and anti logging. In an age when Democrats seem to be lacking vision and seem to gravitate to whatever is not Republican, let's not let our zeal to win back power, override our ability to address complex issues and present real world, responsible solutions.

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    What we're doing in this area is awful, which is why I pointed everyone to the scorecard above. Here's an animated map of what's happening logging-wise in our area. It's not a pretty site, it's not sustainable, and we should be ashamed of our lack of foresight.

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    So what does the map mean Albert?

    At the 1970 point it says the green areas are forest but not necessarily old growth. Then it proceends with oranges and yellows (nice alarming colors of course) to show subsequent logging.

    How many thousand acres and how many trees of what age in 1970? The map leads you to believe that there was no replanting in the thirty three years that it covers. Is that true?

    <hr/>

    Standing alone that map is about as useful to furthering the debate as a potato chip in the likeness of the Virgin Mary. Kind of reenforces my point about the "faith based" nature of the enviro-movement.

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    That said, I believe that there was excessive cutting in the 80s. I also believe that many or most urban "progressives" would really like to see a cessation of all logging in this state forever. Is that your position Albert?

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    RE: Chris's comments above.

    I take it from you comments that you don't believe that timber companies come into an area, cut down the forests for awhile, then leave - and leave the workers facing a move or a depressed economy.

    Hmmm. Well, my family has been knocking around Oregon for over a 100 years witnessing this. I will attempt to keep this brief.

    My great-aunt Lucile Smith Wilson and her cousin Edna Freitag taught school in the 1918/19 school year on the Siuslaw river not far from Walton. They shared housing (I believe it was the Richardson family farm). One walked a mile west on the railroad tracks to her school, and the other walked a mile east on the tracks to the next school. The Coast Range in that era was full of timber workers, cutting trees, putting them on the trains, and shipping them off to be cut, mainly in Eugene. My cousin Billee (Lucile's daughter) and I went through that area last May. I seriously doubt that there are 5 school age children in that area now, not even close to the two-schools worth in 1918/19. Why did these people leave? Timber left.

    On the same trip last year, Billee and I went up almost the full length of the Smith River - whole towns there have disappeared, in particular Gunter in northern Douglas County. Today there is only a small cemetery left - but in the late 1930's Billee and her brother Norman lived there and went to school there. My grandfather helped build the barn on their property. Billee's dad, my great-uncle Peck, helped with fire fighting crew supply for summer work to supplement the farm income. - Today, not one house, not one structure, is left on the entire upper part of the Smith River.

    My mother-in-law, Joyce Phillips, was working at the Champion lumber mill near Mapleton on the Siuslaw River when I married my wife. She was a dispatcher, and sent trucks hauling product all over the western US. I think it was the early 1980's when she was laid off and the mill closed. That company is now entirely relocated to the southern US. After Champion, Joyce was forced to work as a clerk in a convenience store for awhile, then worked for Dune City until she retired. Her Champion pension, for about 15 years of work, is under $100 per month.

    Fast forward to today. The Ochoco Lumber Mill shut down operation in Prineville in 1999. They maintain a corporate office here, they still own some forest lands here, but their main cutting operation is now in Lithuania. They were the last large mill in this part of Oregon.

    These are some of the experiences in my extended family (there are more). I guess back to you Chris - what the heck are you talking about? What evidence are you thinking of that contradicts that timber companies have come to Oregon, cut the trees, and run? You seem to imply that as much cutting is happening now as ever happened. Really?? Not in the Ochoco Forest, not in the Siuslaw Forest.

    One comment of Chris's I agree with is that Lakoff framing has it's limits. I have a piece written about this topic that will appear on Blue Oregon next Monday (I'm told).

  • Chris (unverified)
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    With regards to Steve's comments about cutting and running:

    To compare the early century heyday to today is comparing apples and oranges.

    First, with the advance of technology, timber harvesting and sawmilling require a fraction of the labor they once did. Gone is the day of the logging camp and the small timber town (which often wasn't much more than a permanent logging camp). There is no longer the need for hundreds of workers and all the camp staff to live at the base of a harvest area. The mechanization of logging, log transportation and the shift from being labor intensive to capital intensive was responsible for the decline of the small logging camps and camp towns before the decline of federal timber harvest. We still harvest on rivate lands all over the state. but today instead of living on site, the lgogers drive reliable pickup trucks and vans to the job. One to two hour commutes are not uncommon. Also, I think that popluation shifts from rural to urban and suburban are much larger that just our timber industry. As people seek more comfort and easier "better" lives for their children they tend to abandon rural life for urban.

    Secondly, places like the coast range (i.e. Siuslaw area) have experienced a decline in harvest activity due to a change in federal forest management policy and environmentalist legal challenges to federal timber sales; not because the areas have been cut over.

    Eugene/Springfield used to be the timber capital of the world (with over 100 mills) because of the extraordinary large federal forests with good highway access to both the west and the east (the Siuslaw National Forest to the west and the Willamette National Forest ot the east). Currently there are a fraction of that number (around a dozen if you go as far south as Cottage Grove). Most of the survivors own their own timber. When harvesting on federal forests came to a halt, so did the viability of mills without their own timber. (As a side note, the remaining mills cut more lumber than did the huge number of mills during the boom times. And they cut that increased amount out of much smaller trees. This is due to the quantum leaps in sawmill technology made since the 70’s and early 80’s.)

    Steve asserts: “Why did these people leave? Timber left.”

    The timber is still there. I promise. I’m not just saying this to make a point. It is. The people left because of technology and then the shut down of the forests. And incidentally, many of the people in the old days who raped and pillages our forests weren’t “timber corporations”. They were mom and pop “gyppo” outfits, who as you correctly pointed out, dotted the countryside.

    Again, I have no problem with a public exercising its democratic control over our federal forests so that they are managed according to the will of the majority. I simply want people to be factually informed. And frankly, lefties in Oregon tend not to listen to people who make it their livelihood to factually track harvest and inventory levels: the foresters, scientists, national forest managers or the timber community because they don’t trust them.

    But equally silly is the notion that the environmental groups that support a no-cut agenda are objective. I can get on board with sustainability, ecosystem diversity, and watershed health, but not no-cut; which is what a large contingent of the environmental community actually wants. Is their agenda any more radical than the big bad corporations? Will they be less dishonest in representing the truth? Can people really trust them any more than industry? I doubt it. In fact I know it because I know that many of the “facts” presented by enviros often lack context, are misleading, manipulative, and dishonest.

    I think its too bad that we tend to reach the middle by pulling as hard as we can from each political pole on any given issue? And I agree with Pat that environmentalism is essentially a religion (he didn’t say that exactly but I am). And the fervor with which people follow it can blind them to objective reality. And we can’t make responsible democratic decisions without objectively informed citizens.

  • Chris (unverified)
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    One other thing....

    Steve wrote: This vision of community stability and all that follows should be framed as a Democratic Party vision. Stable economy then equals stable funding for schools and services. Stable economy supports families over generations. Stable economy is a family value.

    I agree wholeheartedly!

  • engineer (unverified)
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    Re Chris' comments-finally a rational presentation of the facts.
    Re Steves comments (I usually find Steves posts to be well informed), but in his sojourn to Smith River in Douglas County he fails to mention that forest management is still occurring on industrial forest lands, second and even third-growth harvesting is occurring. There is some thinning on BLM lands, done for wildlife habitat improvement primarily.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Chris and Engineer -

    Excuse me if I don't see the difference between the de-population of the Siuslaw and Smith River valley's and the closure 5.5 years ago of the Ochoco Lumber Mill, and that company's move to Lithuania.

    They came, they cut, and they left.

    I agree that things are progressing nicely towards a sustainable future. I agree that timber harvesting takes less people than it used to. And my description was of "past practices" - go look at my posts.

    So - the opportunity in "future practices" is for the Democratic Party to support and nurture policies, laws, and regulations that keep a balance between the sustainable output of the forests, corporate interests, and the need of the people that live in forested areas to have good family wage jobs.

    The "past practices" are in fact the Republican present. We need to hammer home especially in the rural areas of the State where forestry is big, that the Republicans still support "old time" cut and run corporations, and the Democrats support "new" forest practices that will result in more or less permanent, sustained family wage jobs.

    Imagine - a wedge issue that works for Democrats in our rural forested areas!

  • John (unverified)
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    This notion that environmentalists are dreamers with no connection to the working class or the realities of economics is so much bullshit I have to speak out!

    For the record I grew up in a working class family in Illinois and came to Oregon with nearly zero environmental consciousness. Didn't take long at all to see that the BIG timber companies were pitting workers against environmentalists with a "divide-and-conquer" mentality.

    Let's keep this in mind: the national forest are ours to decide what to do with. Only four percent of the wood products Americans use come from our national forests. I vote to stop cutting all timber on our national forests. Stop before old-growth forests disappear entirely! Mother Earth has compromised enough for (how many?) generations. It is time for humans to start compromising--for our own survival. Much less importantly: I am outraged as a taxpayer that I am subsidizing the timber industry to cut from land that belongs to all of us in order to make stockholders more money while global warming continues unabated! Insanity!

    Check out these sites:

    http://www.forestcouncil.org/learn/ on economics: http://www.forestcouncil.org/press/economics.php

    ALSO:

    http://www.johnmuirproject.org/ArticlesOpinions/Big%20Timber's%20Big%20Lies.htm

    (from the third URL) On jobs and the economics of clearcutting: The Forest Service and the timber industry claim that logging our public lands is essential for jobs and the economy. But the agency's own documents show that recreation in national forests contributes over 31 times more to the U.S. economy and creates 38 times more jobs than logging national forests. If we ended all commercial logging on national forests, and redirected the subsidies into timber-community assistance, we could pay each public-lands timber worker more than $30,000 a year for job retraining or ecological restoration work, and still save taxpayers millions.

    On public opinion and cutting for forest health: As public opinion polls in the mid-'90s began to show that a growing majority of Americans wanted to end federal timber sales, the Forest Service countered by reducing the volume cut under its Timber Commodity Program and making up the difference with a steady increase in logging under the Forest Stewardship Program. Today, roughly half of all timber cut on national forests is supposedly for the forests' own good. Most of the biggest, most destructive timber sales-including massive clearcuts through ancient forests and roadless areas-are planned, prepared, and executed under the guise of stewardship. Most of these are supposedly carried out to "reduce fire risk."

    Last year, however, a General Accounting Office report finally called into serious question the use of timber sales to address fire issues. "Most of the trees that need to be removed to reduce accumulated fuels are small in diameter and have little or no commercial value," the report noted. Because of this, Forest Service managers "tend to focus on areas with high-value commercial timber rather than on areas with high fire hazards" and "include more large, commercially valuable trees in a sale than are necessary to reduce the accumulated fuels." The GAO concluded that the program is "largely driven by commercial rather than safety considerations."

    Indeed, the principal methods for setting the Forest Service's fire-reduction budget are commercial. The cover of the technical course manual of the Forest Service's National Fire Management Analysis System (NFMAS) shows a balancing scale. On its right side is a stand of trees on fire. On the left, a large bag of money. The text openly states that "NFMAS presently has no provision for directly and systematically estimating the economic impact of effects of fire on wildland resource values that do not in and of themselves produce market or commodity outputs." The message is clear: if it can't be sold, it doesn't have value.

  • David Wright (unverified)
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    The message is clear: if it can't be sold, it doesn't have value.

    No, John, the message is that if it can't be used economically, the economic impact of its loss is very difficult to estimate, if possible at all. I'd be curious to see the context from which your quote was pulled. How are those unestimated resource values used relative to the estimated resource values?

    This thread raises some very important topics. Unfortunately, the discussion seems to run high on emotion and low on reason, alas...

    For the record, I work for a wood products company headquartered in Portland. However, we have no timber/sawmill operations in Oregon, and most such operations are in Canada -- where almost all logging is done on federal lands, with strict requirements on the company for responsible forest and land management.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Well, having said, "I vote to stop cutting all timber on our national forests.", I guess John must be a Republican - No clear thinking Democrat would ever say anything that radical.

    About 50% of Oregon is public lands of one sort or another, lots of it timbered land. Very little of that is "old forest" in need of being preserved for bio-diversity, etc. Lot's of it has been used for plantation logging on and off.

    There is no doubt that we can do a better job in timber practices to destroy less of the ground, animal life and other plant life. There is no doubt that in the past we have over cut, or as I think of it we have allowed corporations to cut and run. But, sustainable timber harvests are within reach. Once we get there, then we can have a permanent workforce tied to that business.

    Only an anti-worker, anti-family wage job, anti-rural people, and anti-Democratic person would think that we should never cut down another tree. -- Think of the future forest fires! Wow.

    Now, if you really want to solve a problem, please focus on finding a commercially viable use for Juniper wood. I've got about a 100 of those nasty things on my property that I will have to cut down pretty soon (5 years?) just to lower fire danger and increase ground water.

  • Chris (unverified)
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    Side note regarding juniper: I can't tell you how many people have tried to figure out a commercial use for juniper. Sorry, but it is just too small to harvest economically and too short and too diverse in its structure to process on any sort of an industrial scale. Many people have tried and many people have lost lots of money doing so....

    The other underutilized specie that I personally have worked on a bit is madrone. Absolutely beautiful flooring but the falldown in the manufacturing process is absolutely horrendous due to the stem form and physical characteristics (both aesthetic and structural).

    But entrepreneurs are constantly rehashing old ideas and trying new ones to use such species, which when growing amongst the commercial species, are either left as wildlife trees or harvested and piled. They can't even be used as chips for making paper.

  • engineer (unverified)
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    Steve writes "But, sustainable timber harvests are within reach."

    I see this word tossed around with reckless abandon, and other than making the people who use it feel good I dont understand just what it means in the context of forestry. If I own one hundred acres of forestland, does that mean that for the land to be "sustainable" I have to manage my land on a 100 year rotation and can only harvest 10 acres every 10 years? I'm all for prudent forest management, taking into account non-commodity values and being a good land steward, as I suspect most people are (yes even the evil greedy big timber companies, particulary now). Please let me know what makes current forest management "unsustainable".

    By the way can we put the enviro-myth that "we're running out of old-growth" to rest finally? Refer to the following article in the Oregonian, "Old-growth forests gain ground. A federal analysis finds older trees on about 600,000 more acres 10 years after adoption of the Northwest Forest Plan."

    http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news/1113818144162980.xml?oregonian?lcen&coll=7

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    Steve, Pat, and Chris,

    You are all right. As someone who has worked for an environmental group focused on forestry issues, I can attest that some grassroots groups and activists are ill informed and extreme in their views.

    But timber companies have overcut in the past and subsequently been forced to run, blaming job losses on environmental laws when in fact they should blame their own adoption of new machinery and technology that allows more work to get done with fewer workers.

    Looking for examples and models of the kinds of companies and practices most environmentalists and Democrats support? How about Collins? Their Almanor Forest in northern California "has nearly as much wood as it had when logging began [in 1941], all of it still in mature forest that attracts bald eagles, ospreys, goshawks, and northern spotted owls." —Seth Zuckerman, Sierra Club Magazine

    In order to be ecologically as well as economically sustainable, forest rotations do need to be lengthened somewhat and companies must use more selective logging and less clearcutting. Some areas are too important and fragile ecologically to be logged at all. But most areas, if managed well under a Forest Stewardship Council type management plan, can support a full range of ecological benefits while still providing well paid forest jobs.

    For more information on the FSC and certified logging in general check out Portland's own Metafore organization in the Ecotrust building in the Pearl District downtown.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Engineer write that he doesn't understand "sustainable timber harvests".

    I am no forestry expert. But I live in a rural area where many small timber stands are privately owned, I have seen what one large timber company did, and I have watched the National Forest and their logging operations. What I see, as we move towards sustainability are several things. First, we won't "rotate" the crop like you (Engineer) projected. There are several steps in the forestry harvest process. One thing I see a lot of around here is what is called the "commercial pre-cut" meaning small dimension trees are removed to allow larger trees to grow faster. Even here on the much dryer eastern side of the Cascade Mountains, a 100 year time frame from planting to harvest would be long. After the "commercial pre-cut" there can be selective logging, pulling out other trees a few at a time over a period of years. Replacement trees can be planted under the canopy of the forest to replace the thinned or selected trees. So, yes, an owner of a small 40 acre or 100 acre parcel might not get much back in a 25 year period, but they would be getting something back, and adding long term value.

    Back to the time frame - As I previously noted on this thread, I spent some time with my cousin Billee last May looking at some of the places my extended family used to live. The Wilson family place on Wolf Creek Road (in extreme southern Lane Co., between the Smith and Siuslaw Rivers) was a farm surrounded by forest in 1945. Today, where the farms were located on the road is a deep dark forest. We walked off the road and found part of a concrete foundation in the middle of a place where no one else would have know that people ever lived. But what was in the 1940's forest, is now cut, and cleared land, replanted about 5 years ago. According to Billee, it is like a negative photograph, what was forest is now cut, what was open is now forest. - 60 years later. On the western side of Oregon, it doesn't take all that long to completely re-grow a forest.

    So, whatever, I'm not the expert. You could rotate logging, selectively log, commercial pre-cut, etc. What I see is that we are getting close to a point of balance, where the annual growth in a largely defined area can equal the annual cutting, and therefore provide a uniform stream of wood for processing; subject to some expectation of natural disaster (fire, wind storm). I really don't think we are too far off from this point. What I hear from some of my friends at the fringe of this business, is that there are places with too much built up growth, and they really should have at least some thinning so avoid being a larger fire danger.

    So, I am in favor of letting the experts figure this out. I think we should let the US Forest Service do its job, which does include a mandate of sustainability. Generally, the Forest Service works to have good relationships with rural people, and appears to have a sense of balance. Like every other part of the Federal Government under Bush, they don't have enough money to do the job as well as they'd like, but that is another story for a different place and time.

  • pat (unverified)
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    How ever did you all get the idea that rotations will be 70-100 years? News for you all - Weyerhauser is doing 35 year rotations on the lands once belonging to Willamette Industries. OSU College of Forestry is blowing out all of its research forest lands in upper Soap Creek Valley to grow plantations of 35 yr rotations, 18" poles, using plenty of 'genes and chemicals'... Read their latest research plan. Thinning? Another myth, these guys don't want to bother to thin anything. Just mow it down and plant another crop of Doug Fir clones, spray herbicides for several years and come back in a few more years. The regen. forest behind my house were harvested at 27 years. Sustainable? I don't think so, I just pray at night that the slope doesn't slide away from under my house whenever we get big rains again. We've been sold a bill of goods as our fertile lovely lands have been sold to Wall Street mergers.

  • Richard L'Esperance (unverified)
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    Regarding Pat's last post. I think that Steve's idea was that 70-100 years was more ideal if you were looking at overall forest health. He even admited in his comment that 100 years would be really long for a rotation in the current economic environment. It's not necessarily true that forest companies have shortened their rotation. I've been working for a timber company for over 8 years now (not long in the industry) and the rotation has not changed much in that time. The average age of a stand of trees that gets cut is between 50 and 60 years old. Sometimes 40-45 year old stands will be cut, but that depends on the soils and geology of the land. How fast is your grove of trees growing. That's just for Douglas-fir. It really does depend on the tree, the soil and the location. Western Hemlocks grow faster. Redwoods in California grow slower (and indeed the state down there mandates that you wait 60-80 years).
    Pine grows slower too, and differently. Here you are showing your ignorance of forestry science. Timber companies cut differently for different types of trees. Douglas fir trees are clearcut, but since that's most of what you see in the Willamette valley or the western Cascades, you are seeing more clearcuts. Clearcutting is certainly easier, but Pine, east of the Cascades, is more commonly thinned, because it is an understory tree. As is hemlock. Doug-fir actually grows significantly faster in a clearing. Weyerhauser often claims that they can get better rotations out of their timber (although I'm sure that's not the average), but they have a strong regimen of genetic development and fertilization. They are still trying to get the trees just as big, but in shorter periods of time. It doesn't always work, or work as well as WeyCo says it does. I wonder what their REAL rotation average is. They might also be using their southern (US) forests in that average. Southern pine trees grow to merchantable size much quicker than western forests do. I think you'll find that most timber firms in the NorthWest will have greater than 45 or 50 year rotations. And again, what definition of "Sustainable" are you referning to when you complain about land slides? They are two different subjects. Land movement is an issue. Mostly, from my point of view, in how it affects things downslope. Stream debris quality is a problem, for sure. OR, WA and CA all have rigorous stream buffering regulations to protect that. There are clearcut size limits. When it rains, earth moves. Even if there are trees there. Just not as much.
    And I don't think that the statement, "I just pray at night that the slope doesn't slide away from under my house..." is a very scientific or objective reaction to any discussion on slide danger because of timber harvesting.

  • Richard L'Esperance (unverified)
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    I'm sorry Steve, but... "Well, having said, "I vote to stop cutting all timber on our national forests.", I guess John must be a Republican - No clear thinking Democrat would ever say anything that radical."

    Whatever. I find that there are radical viewpoints in the Democratic party that say just that very thing. Are you assuming that all Democrats are clear thinking? Sure, not all Republicans are either. But I typically vote Republican these days, and it's statements like that which solidify that voting tendency. I agree with Chris when he says that: "But equally silly is the notion that the environmental groups that support a no-cut agenda are objective. I can get on board with sustainability, ecosystem diversity, and watershed health, but not no-cut; which is what a large contingent of the environmental community actually wants." Steve, what political party does the environmental community typically vote for? Two guesses (as the first one will be the Green party, no doubt).

  • Michael (unverified)
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    <h2>SAVE THE TREES!!!!</h2>
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