OREGON STANDOFF: Timber collapse fuels resentment of federal policy (Greenwire)

From Greenwire today. Mentions that “the Forest Service banned the cutting of old-growth ponderosa pine” in 1995. The ban was a prohibition on cutting trees larger than 21 inches DBH (the “Eastside Screens” — background here), so of course that didn’t ban all old-growth, just the ones bigger than 21 inches.

The article has a photo of the old Hines Lumber Co. mill, with part of the roof missing.




Timber collapse fuels resentment of federal policy

14 thoughts on “OREGON STANDOFF: Timber collapse fuels resentment of federal policy (Greenwire)”

  1. Once again, this article provides a shining example of how so much of the of what we call journalism today is really nothing more than an exercise in false equivalence. The story line always looks the same. Journalist needs news. Journalist finds two people from opposite sides of the spectrum. Journalist gets a few quotes from opposing sides. Viola! Journalism!

    In realityland, the facts are always more complex and there is usually one side that is right, and another that would rather create their own facts than actually face a complex reality. Had the reporter actually cared, he could have pressed Andy for more detail and I’m sure Andy would have obliged him with documented facts and figures showing the declining economic efficacy of continued harvest (not to mention all of the externalities). Could the other side of the story show such facts and figures? Or, is their argument better characterized as “shooting the messenger.” People rarely blame themselves when they do something stupid. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have invented the word “scapegoat” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapegoat) thousands of years ago were it not a basic human response to avoiding blaming ourselves for our sins.

  2. “Even without the environmental restrictions, modern technology still would have killed many timber jobs, the Oregon economic office said. ‘The automation and mechanization in the logging process and in the mills, by itself, would and has resulted in a large employment decline,’ it said.”

  3. Hijacking a wildlife refuge 30 years after the fact of the timber reforms of the 90’s is hardly justification for Bundy’s actions. If tomorrow I go out and take over an office for Wildlife Services and complain about gender inequality I would be forecably escorted off the property and summarily charged. If the law is not clear it is the comprehension level of the audience not the legal language of the law.

    • I agree, Anita. Here’s what I wrote in my Editor’s Notebook column in the February edition of The Forestry Source:

      “Ours is a nation of laws, and in this case Bundy and his gang have broken one or more of those laws. They ought to be arrested and charged with crimes. I would say the same if a group of “environmentalists” occupied a US Forest Service office, citing their opposition to a timber sale, or if a bunch of loggers took over the same office to protest the low level of harvests. Either way, it would be law-breaking. “

        • Me too, Matt. Actually, for the published version I took out “environmentalists” and added “a group of Earth First protesters” — didn’t want to offend anyone.

          FWIW, I also wrote, “I hope the occupiers decide to give themselves up without a shot being fired.” I’m saddened to hear that one of them was killed. I hope the rest of the bunch leave before anyone else is hurt or killed.

  4. Regarding Eric Anderson’s comment above …. Journalists need/require 15-second sound bites. Those who do not like forestry are very good at giving a journalist a dramatic picture that fits into that 15 seconds. Now, whether or not that picture is true or is 50 years old and done in accordance with out-dated, outlawed practices is immaterial. If journalists repeat it often enough, it becomes the “truth” in the minds of many. The problem with forestry is that a forest and forestry are far too complex to fit nice, 15-second sound bites and few journalists are not interested in 15 minute stories.

    For a time, I collected quite a number of newspaper articles that pertained to environmental issues, particularly forests. As a rule, the first part of the article was about the issue – fair enough. Another part generally had quotes from one, oftentimes more, from the environmental perspective – fair enough. The problem I found was that, IF the forester’s perspective was even there (and it oftentimes was not), it was typically at the end of the article and seldom with a quote. These seemed to be in a 3 or 4 to 1 ratio – not so fair.

    Journalism and reality are often very different creatures. Therefore, I read about the Malheur story with great skepticism!

  5. You need to read Charles Wilkinson’s book, “Crossing the Next Meridian”. It provides an insight into the history of the settlement of the western public domain lands and the strong influence the timber, ranching and mining barons had on the drafting of laws and policies governing the public lands. He refers to them as the “Lords of Yesterday”. He goes on to explain how they were able to not only influences the laws and policies but, also establish significant subsidies to benefit their interests. These lands were never taken from private ownership but, rather placed under public management for the citizens of our country. Private use of these lands is a privilege granted through a special use permit and clearly conveys no legal rights. Use requires reimbursement to the American citizens for the privilege. The reimbursement is often far below what one would pay for the same privilege on private lands, thus a subsidy. The limits of our natural resources are becoming highly visible today and we, on the North American Continent, are currently demanding far more then can be sustained in the future. Professor William Rees, University of British Columbia, tells us each individual in the U.S. and Canada, require 20 acres to produce the energy and products required to support our standard of living yet, if you divide the worlds land base by today’s world population there is slightly less than 4 acres available per person. There are no more frontiers to discover on this planet and sound management is the only choice for the future! Current management will have to change from what we can take from our natural surroundings to proper management of our natural surroundings!

  6. I agree that Wilkinson’s book is excellent. There is a simple principle at work for federal policy — if you intend to make money through your use of land or resources, you should pay for the privilege. This applies to logging, grazing, film making, ecotourism, etc. The actual amount paid has long been subject to political influence, though most agencies have made recurrent efforts to secure market value.

  7. The decline of the timber industry is Harney County has many causes:
    * only a tiny fraction of Harney County is forested;
    * eastside forests are dry, slow growing, low productivity;
    * the Harney County timber industry was only profitable when they were high grading and liquidating old growth forests;
    * Harney County is remote and far from major markets and transportation newtoworks (e.g. I-5, I-84);
    * mechanization and automation;

  8. The mill was in Burns because of the railhead. Don’t forget the short line up to Seneca where the wood was. But the 21 inch rule is prima facie arbitrary and capricious, and the cutoff of supply rendered any mill superfluous.
    The Bundy Bums or Bunch or Boneheads have given the gift of deflection to the usual suspects, who have had a field day screaming “radical” at anyone who wants to have a grown-up conversation about land utilization. It’s classic Celinda Lake, the idea is not to win an argument on merit, but to cast aspersions and associational negatives on your political opponent.
    In this case, there’s no discussion of the Hammonds and their unjust sentencing. While neither of them are angels, in fact, these guys seem pretty cranky, we’re talking 140 acres of sage and juniper. On top of jail, they lost their grazing priority (dunno who is running the rights now) AND got whacked with 400,000 in fines through the civil courts. That’s already plenty of hurt, is it not?
    The occupation is just stupid stuff, wrong people, wrong topic, wrong place, wrong time, and the only ones helped by this are the pro Green spin hacks who otherwise wouldn’t have a platform.

    • The spot fires that “endangered” others were along a road line and totaled one acre.
      The 2001 fire smoked out a guy’s camp, and scared the wayward grandson (who clearly has issues) but there’s nothing about whether the camp burnt in the record. If the purpose was party hunting and poaching, then why was there not an investigation into whatever animal carcasses were inside the burn area, if any?
      As I said, not angels by any means, but the dollar value of damage done might be two grand at most, never mind that prescribed fire is very often beneficial. Or that’s what I’m told by its acolytes.
      I was struck by something else in the records, about a BLM guy not clearing the road for the younger Hammond until he was good and ready to move his engine. Was it necessary to block the road to remove the guilty juniper? Could he have cleared the way? Did Hammond ask nice and then get grumpy or what?
      And I also had to howl at the claim the Hammond fires, and I paraphrase, set the BLM fire program back years. Are you kidding me? What about that fire in the canyon south of John Day? Or the Soda Springs fire last year, a quarter million acres in Idaho? So private citizens in contact with the realities of federal policy have NO REASON WHATSOEVER to be a little out of joint?


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