Folks, this is from an op-ed by Andy Geissler, a forester who works for the American Forest Resource Council in Eugene, Oregon. He is writing about a previous op-ed on the recent expansion of a national monument in SW Oregon.
The Jan. 12 guest viewpoint headlined “Expanded monument could benefit economy” offers a strange and disturbing perspective on how economic value is placed on certain commodities, and likewise, how Oregon places value on its economy. The context is the expansion of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument in Southwest Oregon.
The authors assert that “the economic value of tourism associated with an expanded monument would vastly exceed the value of timber that could be extracted.”
I believe the flaw in this approach is that it assumes that whichever commodity generates the most economic value is inherently the “best” or most useful commodity.
I can relate to this, as I live very close to the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon, which attracts more than four million visitors annually. Those visitors certainly have an economic impact, but most of the folks in the local communities don’t get much of a benefit in terms of well-paying jobs. We’d be much better off if some of the former jobs in the woods, trucks, and mills were brought back — jobs that pay far more than most the recreation and tourism jobs here. And I think we could have both. For us, a more-diverse local economy would be much better than one so largely tied to tourism.
FWIW, two of the 14 homes along my rural road that sold last year were bought as vacation homes. That makes 5 homes now that sit empty most of the year. It is rare that these new owners spend any money here….