by Mike Sallee
November 19, 2004
As a small local sawmill operator I have never sought, nor do I intend to start seeking subsidies. Our local timber resource is of high enough quality to be quite capable of selling itself.
I don't believe it's my government's responsibility to provide me the means to live in a manner to which I'd like to become accustomed. Jobs should arise not from government subsidy but from people providing a service or product for which other people are willing to pay. The tools to do that providing, whether in the form of education or equipment, can be purchased through loans or some other means independent of us taxpayers.
Unfortunately, the primary timber economy in SE Alaska has for many decades been subsidized in the form of road credits and cheap timber to the tune of tens of millions in dollars paid annually by U.S. taxpayers. In addition our forests get compromised on several fronts; loss of wildlife habitat and diminished recreational value, wood quality and water quality to name a few.
Furthermore, road credits and cheap timber have resulted in deterrents to sustainable local cottage wood processing industries, instead creating an industry disproportionately weighted toward large-scale extraction of trees, minimal local processing of saw logs, and a need to sustain itself by perpetually seeking out virgin, unexploited timber stands.
We're not very effectively competing if, in order to stay in the game we must trash our surroundings, waste resources and limit our future options.
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