>I live in the Northwest, a land of forests and rivers, mountains and valleys, and rain. For many years the primary industry in the Northwest has been wood products, such as logging and sawmilling. There has been a lot of controversy in recent decades around the wood products industry’s tree harvesting (logging) practices, in particular the practice of clear cutting.
Recently I stumbled across this video about the ramifications of clear cutting and over cutting:
I cannot help but think that the problems that lead to the mudslides was not mere ignorance. I have to believe it was also greed.
If you don’t live in the Northwest you might have an image of logging in your mind as something like this:
In reality, modern logging is more like this:
No wonder clear cutting today is leading to unprecedented levels of over cutting. With that kind of technology in one’s hands, and money is to be had, why not just cut down as many trees as fast as one can?
For me this is a personal issue. I grew up in the wood products industry. My grandfather and father owned and operated a couple of sawmills. In the early 1980s, when the economy tanked, those mills went the way of so many in those days – belly up. That was an extremely difficult time for my family, and many families in the Northwest. I remember the great tension between the wood products people and the environmentalists. I remember bumper stickers that read: “Make our forests grow, plant a Sierra Clubber.” But I know I have slowly changed over time. In the past I was not a “treehugger” type of person, but I do find myself more and more falling on the side of the environmentalists. And I do listen to TreeHugger Radio. But I also know the reality for many families who rely on the wood products industry for their livelihood. For me it’s not merely about clear cutting and the loss of old growth forests, though that is part of it. For me it’s about the whole picture, about how we manage and abuse all the resources we have, and about our motivations and justifications. We are sinners after all.
*Note: It would be rather difficult to produce a picture today like the one above of the two loggers. There are not many trees of that size (old growth) left anymore.