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New growth forests
by George Miller


March 02, 2005

A friend who has flown bush planes around here for decades has had a re-occurring incident among uninformed tourists he was flying to various points. Some assumed that the muskegs just had to be the results of the clearcuts they had read so much about in various publications. The pilot attempted to explain by showing them real clear cuts, of varying ages, some with small new-growth, most with larger thick covering of healthy trees. The information they had been fed was quite effective and only a few would hear the truth. My dad had logged a piece in western Oregon in about 1930, near our old home. I had taken a contract to cut trees from a piece near there in about 1978. The trees were quite nice and tall, averaging about 24-30 inches DBH. One day I decided to take my old dad for a drive and we went out to the job. He said he was pleased to see I was logging the very same piece he had logged 38 years ago, and he was surprised how nice the trees were. So was I.

Right here in Southeast I have seen the new growth on cuts we made thirty or more years back. The results are almost as varied the the original overripe forests we were working in, though now the trees are more uniform age and a lot healthier over-all. Of course our native Alder likes to take advantage of the opportunity to spread and grow, so there is more Alder than before. That is only a problem if commercial use trees are the only acceptable outcome, otherwise Alder is part of a natural sequence of forest life. I am also an advocate of getting the most from our resources here, not merely selling raw logs at discounted prices to other nations, then buying back the resulting products, leaving the profit in another nation's hands. We are making some progress in that direction, but we need to lean harder that way and risk some time and investment toward marketing products made from our very high quality woods, grown right here in our yard. Our wood lab at Ward's Cove found through much exhaustive testing, that our trees are among the best, and better than most for structural and other uses. Their finding should assure us that we have top quality fiber and boards to manufacture into fine wood products, creating jobs that pay well, and helping establish and preserve a stable economy for our part of Alaska.

George Miller
Ketchikan, AK - USA


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