by Mike Moyer
March 18, 2005
As a fourth generation Alaskan I feel it's about time for us to take a much long over due look at the way we allow our resources to be used. I see the logging industry as more than just logging. It's an important trade, a craft, that needs to be encouraged in a responsible manner and I do not feel that is what is happening in our state.
My family has been involved in the timber industry since my Great Grandfather came to the Pacific northwest to help set up camp and clear the land to make way for the Northern Pacific Railway tunnel and snow shed at Stevens Pass in Washington. All my life I have heard the great timber stories and listened to how many changes have been made in milling technology. A couple of things haven't changed though. One of these is how dangerous, tough, and exhausting work it still is to work in the woods. The other is how the operators and politicians are still promising the moon, taking what they want, and then moving on.
My Grandfather was born in a logging camp that was big enough to have its own rail station. Now it's overgrown with alders and forgotten. My Grandmother grew up in old Valdez where her father, a mining engineer, worked on the great gold mines in Prince William Sounds' College fjord. Those mines are long abandoned.
My point is this, while we in Alaska have the greatest bank of natural resources in North America, we also have the least ability to produce anything from them. I feel its time to restrict the sale of raw logs to foreign companies. We can't justify the cutting of our timber just to provide a few fallers and loader operators with a short term jobs. These people need long term employment in their trade. We must endeavor to strive to produce what the world wants from our timber rather than allowing the world to take from us as if we are a poor underdeveloped third world country willing to sell its soul to make small change.
If we can't make what they want now then we need to find out why and then make it. If we can't produce what they want profitably then we need to find out how to. If it turns out we have to wait then so be it. Let the timber stand until we have the ability to make a greater profit. Too many ghost towns built on the broken dreams of so many families who were promised years of work litter the Northwest. Are we willing to allow the cigar smoking back room operators and politicians to keep stealing our future and our way of life while they line their pockets with our resources.
What a slap in the face it is to us to witness the loading of raw logs on their way to the orient!! Let them take from us no more. Let them buy from us from now on.
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