I’m curious about why some folks are against commercial timber harvesting. Some environmental groups — the Sierra Club, for example — oppose commercial timber harvesting in general, especially on federal lands. Some groups/folks support fuels reduction and thinning, as long as it doesn’t involve commercial timber sales. Of course, some of this is the legacy of past “industrial timber harvest” practices – large clearcuts with no stream buffers, etc – the “salvage rider,” and so on. On the other hand, other groups/folks may accept commercial harvests if the rotation age is long, and this includes entities that seek income though selling forest carbon. The Nature Conservancy harvests timber, usually in selective harvests, and uses the income to pay for managing its lands.
Is “commercial timber harvesting!” merely a rallying cry, a marketing ploy? A deeply held political or philosophical position? Do most people and groups support it, to some degree? What’s your take?
29 thoughts on “Commercial Timber Harvesting: Pro/Con Discussion”
I really appreciate this question, Steve.
I don’t oppose commercial timber harvesting as a matter of principle, but in most specific instances I usually find myself being very critical. Where I live the logging companies control much of the state and use a *lot* of pesticides to basically manage their lands as plantations for a few tree species. What I would consider to be ecologically rich, ethically-minded commercial forestry seems to be quite rare.
And I’m not throwing stones here; I built an outbuilding last year that I’d wanted for a long time and ultimately opted for wood that I could afford, by which I also mean wood that I’m fairly sure was grown in ways that I find objectionable. I know I’m guilty of contributing to what I denounce.
Pileated, good points. Compares clearcuts, pesticides, and management intensity in general to agriculture, the clearcuts are far more benign. Yet there are few if any protesters at the clearing of a new wheat field, apple orchard, or vineyard.
Perfect example of what’s wrong when you have a monomaniacal focus on logging as if trees capable of living many, many centuries are the same as an annual crop of food or fruit harvesting. The rationalization tries to pound a square peg into a round hole and turns its back on hundred of millions of years genetic fecundity that depends on and was developed with no one cutting down the forest to save it.
The big issue here is who controls the landscape outside of flat fertile fields converted to agriculture. And we have these massive once densely forested landscapes that could sustain thousand of different species that if cultivated could lead to a hundred new industries / commodities, but they never get a chance because the don’t grow as fast as a seedling in a clear cut.
The mono-crop tree farm mentality that sees trees not for the value they can provide for thousand of species if left to fulfill their evolutionary purpose of living for centuries and stabilizing and moderating the microclimate around it, but instead it treats trees like rows of corn and the money made from those trees no matter how immature, makes more money on Wall street. So that monopoly that forever clears the forest rather than develops new industries that depend on a healthy sequestrating forest that are locked up and not logged for centuries rules the landscape to the exclusion of all the other unrealized opportunities.
As in when we talk enviros vs. loggers what we’re really talking about is the lumber industry’s monopolization of the landscape and a culture that won’t allow other uses to be a greater priority, so much so that we don’t ever get enough opportunity to invest long term in something far more divers and more profitable. The pro-logging focus always ignorantly argues there’s no other land use possible that makes money other than logging the forest to protect it from real estate developers, which is close minded ignorance!
Same thing happened with fossil fuel industry when they shut down the development of electric cars in the 1920’s and even a century later spent tens of millions on a smear campaign against Tesla to keep everyone convinced that there’s no alternative to fossil fuels and there never will be.
Same thing with slavery in the deep south. They did such a good job at convincing people that African Americans could serve no other purpose than as slaves and after 600K soldiers died in the civil war they kept their message alive with mass lynchings of African Americans. Then when lynching was shut down they turned to mass incarceration of African Americans. All because a small number of people long ago were defending a horrifically barbaric approach to their monopoly on cotton manufacturing.
These dishonest exploitive monopolies live on in our cultural beliefs and are passed down to the next generation. Just yesterday the old lady running the Home Depot register told me that her logger dad told her soon as the Spotted owl issue showed up that there would be huge fires and awful climate changes with heat waves and all kinds of other disasters all because the enviros wouldn’t let her daddy destroy the last of the old growth trees. It’s gaslighting at its finest. Though equating forests to farmland comes in a close second.
Another example is for decades I’ve looked for timberland owners to do a series of high canopy branch pruning demonstrations to prove I can achieve greater growth rates per acre than cutting trees down could ever produce. The problem is that work requires not just long term protection for that forest and an end to logging, but also funding. But when it comes to covering the cost of the climbing and pruning, the staus quo has convinced everyone that forest investments can only be paid for by cutting down trees, which would ruin the entire intention of the research in the first place.
It’s a mentality that trees are solely for making money and have no other relevant value and the forest and its diversity and exploration of whole new resources and industries that could come from healthy forests is not as relevant as selling logs no matter how deforested the planet gets in the process.
Personally I think opposition to timber harvesting stems more from the fundamental antihumanism undergirding most modern environmentalism. They view humans and nature as being in a zero sum competition, and side with nature over humanity.
Their ideology does not allow any possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship between humans and nature, and any human use of natural resources must be framed as “exploitation” of nature. They will never admit that some resource extraction could actually be beneficial toward the environment, or that commercial profit is not inherently harmful.
The same mentality is increasingly being applied to recreation as well, so that even simple human enjoyment of natural areas is now seen as coming at the expense of nature. Which is why, having already largely killed the timber industry, environmentalists have now set their sites on destroying the outdoor recreation industry as well, starting at the bottom of the “pyramid of pristinety” and working their way up.
Having conceived of humanity as purely a negative force, all they can do is attack and destroy anything that benefits humans. Even when the things they oppose actually can help the environment. Because ultimately they are motivated not by love of nature, but by hatred of humanity.
Patrick, I think the folks who see humanity as purely a negative force are a very small minority. But they do help balance the folks at the opposite end of the spectrum, to whom the earth’s resources ought to or must be exploited. A colleague recently said that he’s seen a gradual shift of those who lean toward preservation to the middle, to a more balanced viewpoint.
Classic gaslighting… Instead of learning all the scientific value of protecting the forest you convince yourself and anyone who will listen that enviros are crazy and hate humans and blah, blah, blah.
Meanwhile profound new scientific discoveries have been made for decades about how complex, beneficial and interactive an original native forest can be for so many if its protected and not destroyed. But none of that matters to you because long ago someone taught you there was only one way to think about it and all the other ways were always wrong and there would never be anything new to learn that would ever change that.
It’s just like the oil companies saying electric vehicles would never be possible. Yet surprise, look where hundreds of billions of dollars are being invested in future vehicles with none of it going to fossil fuel powered vehicles…. And big oil can keep repeating their lie, but they’re starting to fail to maintain their dominance. Same goes with the timber industry…
Whoa Captain, the ocean be too broad for such a vessel; the question is legit, Steve, but much too broad!
The issues boil down to three classifications of Forests: industrial forest lands, non-industrial forest lands and national forests.
Industrial forest lands are private property, and as such, managed for the benefit of commercial forestry. That’s normally where you see the clear cuts, aerial application of herbicides and more emphasis of maximizing growth through managing stem densities.
Now the non- industrial folks control the most forest lands, and range in thinking from the commercial Forests to managing for wildlife habitat, pristine water quality, or just to make it “look pretty”. All noble endeavors.
National Forests is where we all agree to disagree. Intensive management in some Regions/habitat types are certainly germane to more aggressive cultural practices, involving both hardwood and conifer species. Many Forests of the west are mixed conifer, just begging to be managed (now) in a more restoration framework. However, with the lapse in active management (in the West), unacceptable fuels, continuing influx of humanity into the WUI and changing weather patterns, the wildfire threat will make many arguments to “go slow to go fast”, untenable.
Too broad? Maybe, but I’m interested in the “commercial” bugaboo, regardless of the ownership. A segment of the interested public thinks commercial harvesting — making a profit — from selling logs is wrong, to say the least.
Reminds me of the story I heard about the Bull Run watershed, Portland, OR’s water supply, which is managed by the USFS. The watershed had perhaps been over-harvested for decades, and the antidote was to ban all commercial timber sales. OK, fine. But when a winter storm in the 1990s? washed a raft of of old-growth trees into one (or both?) of the reservoirs, the logs were hauled out and a sale of them was proposed. It was not to be. Instead of selling the logs — beautiful tight-grain wood — they were piled and burned. Can’t have a commercial timber sale, right?
Some of the problems with large-scale commercial timber harvesting include the methods used and the extent of operations. Commercial logging interests want to reduce the costs as much as possible, so harvests are usually done using clearcutting methods. Commercial logging often has detrimental effects on soils (compaction, erosion, destruction of seedbeds, etc.). Often the most valuable species for ecological purposes are harvested simply because they provide the greatest immediate, short-term financial returns; non-economic species are removed. However, the trees that are selected for harvest often have greater alternative values for wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, fire resilience, and watershed protection.
Trees take a long time to regenerate; most modern harvesting methods are semi-automated, fast, and easy, mostly done with machines providing few jobs. Replacement trees are often selected for purely economic reasons, not ecological reasons. Harvested areas are predominantly converted to plantations of single-aged, single-species tree farms, which are unsuitable for wildlife habitat or watershed protection. The reforested tracts can also be more vulnerable to pests or wildfire. Harvested areas are often subjected to intensive herbicide spraying. Roads constructed to access timber are environmentally destructive in many ways. Invasive plants often get a foothold in areas that have been disrupted by commercial logging. Non-native species (esp. grasses) and pathogens (e.g., sudden oak disease) are often introduced by roads, loggers, and equipment. Besides, commercial clear-cuts (the typical method employed) are aesthetically unsightly and provide little value for recreationists and nature-lovers.
If logging is to be done, it should be done selectively using variable-density thinning (VDT) and ecological silviculture techniques to maintain spatial and temporal complexity and heterogenous structural diversity, which includes using the ICO selection criteria (individuals, clumps, and openings), and edge-smoothing instead of broad stand-scale clearcutting.
Excerpt from “Ecological Silviculture, Foundations, and Applications,” Palik, D’Amato, Franklin, and Johnson, 2021) :
The fundamental principles of ecological silviculture (as opposed to conventional/classical silviculture):
… provision for continuity of forest structure, function, and biota between pre- and post-harvest ecosystems.
… need to create and maintain structural complexity and species diversity, including spatial heterogeneity of conditions at multiple spatial scales.
… silvicultural interventions at ecologically appropriate time intervals.
The importance of planning and implementing silvicultural interventions in the context of how these actions accumulate influences the structure and function of landscapes.
Six Fundamental Ecological Silviculture tenets:
1) Sustain ecosystems, rather than timber (or other singular objectives)
Even ecological foresters will generally maintain a strong commitment to producing commodities, but this will be done without compromising ecosystem productivity. If the pursuit of landowner objectives compromises productivity, you likely have deviated too far from the natural model.
2) Seek complexity and diversity
If your forest is not measurably more complex and species-rich than the outcome of a timber-focused model at all stages of development, you likely have deviated too far from the natural model.
3) Seek forest continuity rather than discontinuity
New forests connect to the past through biological legacies. If your management does not have measurably more and varied types of legacies than a timber-focused model, you likely have deviated too far from the natural model.
4) Maintain options for the future
Keeping all the parts of the forest is key to maintaining options for the future. If your management results in measurably fewer species or simplified structural conditions, you likely have deviated from the natural model.
5) Practice silviculture in the context of landscapes
Natural forest landscapes often have a different structure (and function) than timber-focused landscapes. If your management results in landscapes with measurable negative changes in landscape metrics (e.g., connectivity), you likely have deviated too far from the natural model in too much of the landscape.
6) Let the ecosystem speak to you
Silviculture is an adaptive process that should rely on your intuitions and observations of how your forest’s structure, composition, and function are responding to treatments. If your gut tells you something is off relative to a natural model, you will want to reconsider and refine your approach.
An ongoing challenge for foresters will be implementing ecological silviculture prescriptions while still maintaining opportunities to meet multiple diverse objectives, often inclusive of timber management. However, the ultimate objective should be to facilitate the implementation of an ecological approach without compromising one objective for the sake of another, e.g., biodiversity to the exclusion of timber.
Your key point above is that it’s all about keeping costs down and profits up. That’s the only thing that matters… All the other stuff about actually caring about the forest you leave behind sends costs way up and makes it no longer profitable.
So usually the solution is for the loggers and foresters to lie to themselves and say they practice the six fundamentals even though they don’t. I never met a forester who hasn’t convinced themselves they were doing way better work than everyone else, no matter how destructive and unsustainable their practices were.
When I was a tree planter the loggers and foresters constantly told me: “It doesn’t really matter, nobody ever comes out here anyways.” The more they say that to themselves the better they feel about how much money they make. Truth is over the course of decades what they’ve done becomes embedded in the history of the land and its health or lackthereof. Of course us enviros are usually the ones to keep track of that history rather than hide it so that makes us the people who are wrong, not them.
What’s more there’s no incentive to follow your six fundamentals because how much money you make for yourself and the landowner is how you’re judged if you want the job. All the foresters I know who were more concerned about what they were leaving behind than what they were taking ultimately lost their job to foresters that didn’t care about that because in our society how much money you make is more important than how fast you accelerate the destruction of the only planet we have to live on.
I am surprised that you attacked the six points of ecological silviculture and ecological forestry; I thought you’d wholeheartedly concur with them. I would consider myself to be an “enviro,” too. The goal is to transform the prevailing mindset that “trees are just an agricultural crop” into a greater appreciation of “biodiversity, habitat, and ecosystem services as being the ‘true values.” But, I also subscribe to the indigenous mindset that humans are also a part of nature and need to cooperate with and “tend” the environment to help keep it healthy. I am adamantly opposed to the industrialization and overexploitation of natural resources and those who profit inordinately from them and deplete natural resources at an unsustainable rate (for short-term profit at long-term expense).
Here’s a definition of ecological forestry (per Jerry Franklin et al.):
“Ecological Forest Management (ECM) is focused on policies and practices that maintain the integrity of forest ECOSYSTEMS while achieving environmental, economic, and cultural goals of human societies. EFM uses NATURAL ecological models as its basis, contrasting it with modern production forestry, which is based on agronomic models and constrained by required economic return-on-investment (ROI). EFM can contribute to resolving major 21st-century issues in forestry, including sustaining forest dependent societies.”
Do you disagree with this approach? If so, why?
I never attacked the the value of the 6 points and in general agree with the basic premise of all of them… I was clarifying why those 6 points are failing to be applied due to the nature of capitalism.
Of course attacking and blaming the token enviro on a blog dedicated to people who have had careers in status quo forest practices is to be expected.
Clearly it’s all my fault that cut and run logging is still the prevailing way of managing our planet’s forests. Apologies for that which I’m not responsible for…
As the lady running the cash register at Home Depot told me yesterday. If it wasn’t for us enviros stopping people from logging we wouldn’t have heat waves, droughts and widlfires, climate change, you name it. It’s all because of us enviros. No one else is to blame, only us.
Again, the last clearcut I participated in was in 1989. And that was a hillside covered in dead trees. I’m quite happy that commercial thinning projects in the Sierra Nevada rarely are litigated. The results are very good for those forest ecosystems.
Well Steve Wilent, you asked the question and the answer is still the widest gap in the chasm of doubt!
It would seem the commenters here will not relent to see the forest for the trees, before that forest is nothing more than burned stumps. I really do believe the differentiation of industrial, non-industrial and public forests must be examined differently. The public forests are all that’s really up for debate; private forest lands (industrial and non-industrial) are one of the privileges still afforded this great country!
And from the looks of the comments, we are doomed to litigation solutions…..
Before the spotted owl stopped most logging on federal lands in the west they was a much more open discussion about mixed species and age grouping in our forest. Unfortunately since then we have gone to the opposite extremes. The industrial forests are now Douglas fir plantations and biodiversity rich federal forests are burning up.
There are exceptions. The BLM lands on the Coos Bay district have done excellent job with their commercial thinning sales and fortunately haven’t had many fires. Most of the industrial lands though have been clear cut and planted back to Douglas fir. They are kind of boring but are providing many forest benefits and ultimately will provide forests products.
People seem to think it is evil to made a profit from our forests. But in reality we all know if you don’t make a profit to cover expenses you will cease to exist. Whether you are an environmental “non profit” or a logging company.
Also unfortunately due to the current economic and environmental policies larger is better . The small logger and sawmill were killed off when the environmental community did the best to stop most salvage on our federal lands.
As a retired sawmill owner I am in strong support of commercial timber harvest across our landscape. We have the knowledge to do it right. I believe if we had an active management program on our federal lands we would have fewer catastrophic forest fires. Also it would take some the pressure off our private lands as the only source to provide wood products.
(Plus I love making all kinds of lumber from logs and making things with wood.)
I agree; Steve’s question “about why some folks are against commercial timber harvesting” is too vague and should be categorized more narrowly.
There is certainly a need for commercial “wood plantations” to meet the current needs of society, but we should be concerned about them displacing our remaining native forests.
There is no shortage of plantation forests around the world. “Timber production transitioned slowly from being an important means to an end – for example, conservation – to becoming its own end. Timber plantations became more intensive, agricultural in method, and privately owned and operated. Today, private forests produce 89% of the timber harvested in the United States.”
“If considered together, plantations composed of trees – palm oil, rubber, eucalyptus, teak, cocoa, coconut, and so forth – accounted for up to half of deforestation in many tropical countries. Replacement plantings destroyed native forests but often did not produce economically or ecologically viable plantations.”
[Bennett, Brett M., “Plantations and Protected Areas: A Global History of Forest Management,” 2015]
These forest-replacing plantations have decimated large swaths of habitat globally and are driving extinction rates ever higher; a high price to pay, IMHO. This is why many native forests have moved from multiple-use to being areas that are now protected (in some countries) from commercial logging.
The comment: “private forest lands (industrial and non-industrial) are one of the privileges still afforded this great country!” I suppose they have the privilege of destroying the forest on “their” property and then just move on; it’s their “right.”
I have been dreaming of moving into the WUI to be near the forests once I retire, but I am beginning to have second thoughts.
For example, I saw this 2,300 sq. ft. house that looks nice at about $385K (and dropping) in Susanville, CA. I thought to myself, why is the price so low and declining fast? Well, one look on Google Earth reveals why. Just look at the clearcutting that has been done in the area. I have no doubt it is an ugly, high-wildfire area; probably couldn’t even get fire insurance, anyway.
Ah, the freedom to commercially clear-cut on private land; forget about ecological forestry.
And that’s the problem; you either do not understand private property rights, or think you are entitled to tell other people how to manage their on land. And yes, if they clearcut theirs and move on ( I do not support this, but without Forest Practices Acts, they can), then so be it.
I own about 400 acres of commercial timber and range land and am an actual wood cutting forester! However, I am inclined to leave an area better than I found it, manage for diverse benefits and make money – all can be done!
I am a 100% advocate for commercial timber harvesting, and completely opposed to taking taxpayer money to implement a timber operation, if it can be accomplished with a commercial operation. Timber harvesting, and especially regeneration type harvests are the basis for creating diverse vegetative conditions necessary for supporting a wide range of wildlife species, in addition to providing various wood products for the public. To provide optimum conditions for wildlife, most biologists recommend that 10% or more of available habitat should be in the early successional stage (0-10 year old). Most National Forests never reach this stage, and in all Appalachian National Forests it is less than one percent.
This is perfect example of the captain of the Titanic not taking icebergs seriously. Because clearly humans can build a ship so huge and impenetrable that it’s unsinkable and will just push the tip of any old iceberg aside. Likewise, there’s no way commercial logging will ever exceed the “diverse” threshold of 10% early successional stage habitat no matter how many trees we cut. In fact the earth is so huge and 8 billion humans on it are so small we can destroy every last forest as fast as we can and it will never ever in a million years create problems or go beyond the 10% threshold or early successional forests. And think of how rich we’ll all be too because that’s the very best part/only part that really matters for our very short lifetimes.
Deane, I may be a little obtuse, but I didn’t understand your reference in regards to world wide conditions. I was Regional Wildlife and Fishery Biologist for the Southeastern Region (R8) of the US Forest Service for a number of years, and my comments were based primarily upon management actions taken, or not taken, by the Forest Service in that Region, with special emphasis upon lack of management action by the FS on Appalachian National Forests. My comments were oriented to the specific needs of managing National Forests in a specific Ecoregion, and not meant to apply to world wide “averages”.
The two points I tried to make in as few words as possible are:
– Timber operations should be implemented by commercial means where possible, rather than at the expense of taxpayers. In specific areas, such as the Appalachian National Forests, preservation groups tend to block practically all commercial timber sales,
– Figures were given to show what would generally be optimum conditions for wildlife in this Region. The comment on Appalachian National Forests was simply to show how little was being done to meet these needs on these specific National Forests. Even in the period of heaviest clearcutting, when it began around 1965 to the mid eighties the maximum percentage of early successional habitat (ESH) never approached 10% of the Forest acreage. That figure was only used to show what was optimum for that particular use of the Forest, and not necessarily the overall goal, considering all resources.
The % of early successional forest needed should be based on historical patterns at an ecosystem scale. Since ecosystems are not defined by ownerships, <1% on national forests is meaningless information.
The White Mountains of Arizona and the Black Hills of South Dakota are a long way apart, but both are nowhere near as open as in the past.
The White Mountains commercially logged ponderosa pine, around 2014, that had direst photographic evidence of grasslands a mere 100 years earlier. I saw the photos.
Now look at the book on the Black Hills that detailed General Custers travels in the 1860’s. I don’t remember the name of the book, but it details many, many scenes from that period and then brings in present day photos from the same photo points. The Black Hills were NOT that forested in many of the frames.
There are examples all over the West that detail these areas of thinly forested, to non forested expanses, where we are now managing timber stands!
So be careful on early seral ownership values driven by what we think we know, we tend to only know what we think….
But historical conditions may not be appropriate in the future.
Steve, is this your (upcoming) site? Is it restricted only to certified professionals?
NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT TODAY
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Aspen, Rocky Mountain juniper, white spruce and bur oak were at least as abundant as ponderosa pine was in the Black Hills during pre-settlement times.
As many readers are aware the first US Forest Service timber sale took place in the Black Hills near Nemo but only after nearly all the old growth of every native tree species had been cleared for mine timbers, railroad ties and construction. Native Douglas fir and lodgepole pine are virtually extirpated from the Hills and the numbers of second-growth pine that had been allowed to overrun the region promoting pine beetle outbreaks.
After a prescribed burn got away from the Forest Service in the 1980s a moratorium on non-mechanical fuel treatments just exacerbated the problem. Ronald Reagan was president in 1988 when wildfires in Yellowstone National Park burned nearly 800,000 acres and also during the arsonist caused Westberry Trails Fire that destroyed 15 homes, 45 outbuildings, 40 vehicles and burned almost 5,000 acres near Rapid City.
In 2002, the National Forest Protection Alliance (NFPA) named the Black Hills National Forest the third most endangered. In July of that year a power line owned by Black Hills Energy caused the Grizzly Gulch Fire that could have burned deep into Deadwood had the wind not switched. The Grizzly Gulch Fire opened nearly 13,000 acres of overgrown and beetle-killed ponderosa pine but invasive weeds and cheatgrass moved in because cars and hunters have killed off the elk, white-tailed and mule deer that control grasses.
Now, after closing his sawmill in Hill City, Jim Neiman admitted 80% of the timber he has taken comes from public lands owned by the Forest Service. I’ve known Hulett, Wyoming’s Jim Neiman for nearly fifty years. He’s a ruthless negotiator and committed capitalist who would log the Black Hills into the dirt since he controls the BHNF leadership and South Dakota’s Republican congressional delegation.
So, Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is correct when she said the BHNF has been poorly managed. I maintain that has been happening since 1899 and Forest Service Case Number One.
Despite being bombarded with thousands of gallons of retardant the Mullen Fire burned some 177,000 acres about 28 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming into mid-October of 2020. Today, cheatgrass, an invasive plant introduced to the Forest as feed for domestic livestock has infested much of the Mullen burn area. Cheatgrass can produce more than 10,000 plants per square yard and is a major fire risk because it dries out more quickly than native vegetation.
Now, the Forest Service, the US Department of Agriculture and the Wyoming Game & Fish Department have begun spraying the herbicide Rejuvra® with a helicopter on cheatgrass in a 9,200 acre area within the Mullen fire perimeter with the hopes of reducing, maybe even eradicating its presence. People recreating on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest have been urged to avoid the kill zone. Imagine the effects on native pollinators and cervid genetics.
Larry, I’m not sure that it is known exactly how cheatgrass was introduced.. I found a couple of different explanations.. here’s one:
“It is believed that cheatgrass – also known as downy brome – was introduced in the Northwest in the 1880s by contaminated shipments of grain from Asia or eastern Europe.
It got its common name because dry-land wheat farmers of that era in Washington and Oregon were cheated out of their crops by the pesky grass, Provencher said.”
Another one said packing material.
Cheatgrass has been growing in the US since at least 1861 and was spread throughout the country by the US Cavalry who bought hay containing cheatgrass because it was cheap. Before weed-free hay was mandatory with federal grazing permits unwitting livestock producers spread it even further.
Ponderosa pine only reached the Black Hills about four thousand years ago and central Montana in the last millennium so I support mechanical fuel treatments on some public lands even overstory removal to clear second growth of that species.