Conservative Corner: Save a Tree, Starve a Logger

Most of us have heard the phrase, “go paper-less” or “save a tree”.  For some time I have been puzzled by this term and what it means in its context. I understand how people would see the need for more up-to-date record keeping in a modern world, however, when I hear some say, “save a tree”, I have to say save a tree from what? Save them from fire, from insects, or perhaps from natural disaster. Whatever danger one may think Pacific Northwest trees are in, Oregon has had quite a prosperous history from this natural and renewable resource.

There was a time when Oregonians bathed in the wealth of the timber industry. There were homes built, businesses thrived, lumber was plentiful, there were plenty of jobs and towns prospered. There are and were towns in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest that were dependent on the success of the timber industry. Most every town in the region at some point owed its livelihood to harvesting of wood.

 The first lumber mill in the region was built in 1827 and by 1833 lumber had become a profitable export for the area. By the 1850s there were 4 lumber mills in Oregon and lumber was being traded with China, Hawaii, and Australia. By 1870 the number of mills in Oregon grew to 173, and by 1947 1,573 lumber mills turning out more than 7 billion board feet according to www.opb.org/programs/oregonstory/logging.

In 1973 Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and environmental groups made the Northern Spotted Owl the “poster child” for their assault on the logging industry and the regional economy. The environmentalist groups argued that the spotted owl could only survive in old-growth forest, but this was never accurately confirmed. Recently more accurate information about the owl has come to light in response to the anti-logging scandal from http://www.news.discovery.com. As it turns out, the spotted owl is still drastically declining in numbers, and it’s not due to logging. It is due to its natural predators like the bard owl and the golden eagle.

The logging continues to be stifled by radical environmental groups like ELF, Earth First, and The Earth Liberation Front in their attempt to remove all improvements to communities and the region. These domestic terrorist groups have already claimed responsibility for destroying company property and setting fire to logging trucks. “Destroying luxury homes, SUVs, and other private property thereby costing Americans millions of dollars in damages is their strategy”, according to www.targetofopportunity.com/elf.htm. I know these are extreme cases; however, whether it is one extreme case, or many minor problems, the effect is the same, the loss of jobs, money and security in a community.

Trees are also a renewable crop and they grow relevantly quickly in the Northwest region. The mild and damp winters and the warm and sunny summers practically guaranty healthy trees every year. The harvest of this “crop” also insures many people with livelihoods to keep communities and towns alive.

If you have ever taken a journey along Hwy 22 going east you will see the damage the environmental groups have done to the towns and communities in the area. Cold, quite mills, empty stores, and vacant houses are a sad reminder of what used to be a thriving community. Most of what’s left along that lonely stretch of highway is ghost towns and non-productive mills thanks to the environmental groups who seem to care more for a human-less planet than they do for the community from which they live. They seem to call the near death of these small towns a victory. These are the same people who choose to protest the logging industry using paper signs with wooden handles.

If you have sympathies towards the environmental groups, please remember where you get your lumber, plywood, paper, and other paper products. It does not come from thin air, someone has to cut, haul, process and sell the wood products in which we depend.

The next time you see a lumberjack or a logging truck please be thankful that someone is providing valuable products and helping to stimulate the economy with their lumber dollars. So before you go totally “paperless”, just remember; the next time you “save a tree” you may just starve a town.

               Dkhummel.com, dkhummel.blogspot.com

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About D.K. Hummel
I am a dis-placed Alaskan, Ham radio operator, Broadcaster/DJ, Seahawk fan, Alaska Aces fan, U.S. Army Vet, and a conservative; but not always in that order.

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