For years now, I have been trying to show others why our native forests are valuable, how they are composed of an intricate and interwoven community of plants and animals forming a diversity and balance that is a living forest. I could understand cutting trees, but why would anyone want to kill the whole forest?
It was with a jolt that I recently discovered how big timber companies (who own 70 percent of Oregon’s forest land) can destroy forests and leave the scraped hillsides we see all around us — above Wheeler, along Oregon Highway 53 — wherever you live.
The reason is they do not care. They do not care about what happens to the earth and waters, animals and birds, plants and trees in the area they manage. Nor do they care about what happens to the adjacent communities. That is not their purpose. Their purpose is to make money for their investors. Of course, their investors do not work or live in the local community. They are more likely connected to financial centers in Hong Kong, London, Wall Street or Panama.
Nor can we say that local jobs are generated by the logging, since huge machines, not loggers, are used to bring down the forest. Nor are other jobs given to locals, but rather workers are brought in who will take the lowest possible wages. The goal is to generate as much money as quickly as possible, and with as little expense as possible. Hence, clear cut.
Nor do these big corporations that use and pollute our resources contribute to local, state, or federal taxes. Set up as a Timber Investment Management Organization, if they give 90 percent of their profits to their investors (who do not live locally), they are exempt from federal Income taxes. In addition, they pay almost no property tax in support of county government for local services.
Let’s see. How does that add up? Barren hills; no contribution to the community through jobs, business, or taxes. Degradation of the landscape through clearcutting, herbicides, burning. Increased pressure on state managed forests to produce income needed for local services.
The question is: Why are we so quietly letting this happen?