Earlier in the week the owners of the Rough and Ready Lumber mill south of Cave Junction, Oregon announced they were closing their doors for good. There was one reason cited by the owners: A lack of logging on Forest Service and BLM lands in southwestern Oregon. Jennifer Phillippi even went so far as to describe the situation this way, “It’s like sitting in a grocery store not being able to eat while the produce rots around you.”
Well, if you wander away from the timber mill’s talking points even a little bit and talk with actual neighbors in southwestern Oregon who have witnessed Rough and Ready’s handywork over the years, you get a much different story – a story of over-cutting, mis-management, toxic contamination and political manipulation.
Jennifer Elliott with the NBC station in Medford has the other side of the story (click here to watch the news segment):
Today, as the last saw mill in Josephine and Jackson county announces it’s plans to close, some residents are sharing the other side of the story: one they say includes political manipulation, mis-management, and contamination. For some, the news that Rough and Ready Lumber in Cave Junction is going out of business threw up a red flag. Residents fear the threat to close is a ploy to gain access to more timber.
Residents say they’ve seen this happen before. “It’s been some years back the Rough and Ready mill was up for sale,” says South Cave Junction Neighborhood Watch member, Guenter Ambron.
“It’s just wrong,” says a neighbor of Rough and Ready, too scared to identify herself on camera for fear of retaliation. She tells us there’s more than meets in the eye in the company’s announcement to close. “I think it’s being used as a tool to push our representatives and governor into giving them O&C lands,” continues the neighbor.
She says at one point, Rough and Ready was considered a self sufficient company with private logging lands, but she says it’s their own fault they’re out of wood.”If they actually maintained their resource lands and had not clear cut and sprayed with poisons they would actually have a constant supply of timbers to harvest.”
“Now they go in and take this land and bio massed it, all of money they’ve done combined could not pay for the damages it’s done for us, ” says Orville Camp, who lives below a 60 acre area he says was clear cut and sprayed by a group he claims has ties to Rough and Ready Lumber.
“You can see it’s all dead down here,” he remarks.
He tell us that’s part of the reason the wood can’t grow back for this company as well as other timber groups with the same plight.
“They say the land is no longer sustainable for growing trees, which is kind of true.”
Plus, he says it’s destroyed his personal watershed, created a fire hazard, and contaminated his ponds.
We contacted Rough and Ready owner Jennifer Krauss Phillippi for her thoughts on these accusations. She was unavailable for comment.
“For the Phillippi’s to think they’re entitled to our public lands is wrong,” says the anonymous neighbor.
We do know Oregon’s governor is in contact with Rough and Ready owners, but we do not have any information as to the details of that communication.