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Recreation alone can't replace our lost jobs

Evelyn Roether in her June 28 Guest Opinion presents an either/or choice for the BLM’s proposed Land Management Plan. For her it is either recreation or clear cuts. She posits the wrong choices. The right choice is either pure recreation or forest management. Sound forest management includes recreation.

She trots out that bugaboo of clear cuts as one of the choices. Clear cutting is actually a professionally accepted method of timber harvest in the right place. Here in Southern Oregon other types of timber harvest are more appropriate most often.

In order to keep the forests from becoming overgrown, posing a fire hazard, and guarding them from insect infestations, harvest must be done taking many considerations into account, including recreation. Professional foresters educated in the whole forest system can do this if protected from politicians and extreme environmentalists.

Experience, especially in Europe, shows that recreation and timber harvest (part of forest management) are compatible. Eliminating forest management and attempting to replace it with recreation as an economic goal is a pipe dream. She cites numerous figures to attempt to support her position, no doubt provided by “research organizations” with an agenda.

All economic activity starts with the utilization of natural resources. The forests surrounding us are currently woefully underutilized, and thanks to radical environmental organizations are now being managed by them through lawsuits and by fire and bugs.

I invite her to look at reality. What economic progress has Happy Camp, Calif., made since the mill closure there? (That was one of the mills I was responsible for supplying logs to in the '70s and '80s). The Klamath River, full of fish, and the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area are right there. Lots of recreation, right? Many a wonderful day was spent in the Marbles with my horses and friends. This was when the mill was pumping out lots of lumber and supplying jobs for Northern Californians.

I was there a few years ago. It’s almost a ghost town. How about Orleans and Willow Creek, also near the Klamath River and near wilderness? The granddaddy of them all, the Redwood National Park has created no economic activity. Go to Orick near the entrance to the park. It looks exactly the same as before the park was created back in the '60s, and later expanded with promises that it would replace the timber industry there. The economy in Northern California is so bad, they had to build a prison at Pelican Bay to prop up the county.

When the mill in Rogue River opened again few years ago, it created about 100 year-round family wage jobs. Compare that with the seasonal “recreation” jobs in Shady Cove and other places along the Rogue River, which are low-paying and go away in the winter.

We need all the jobs we can get, but to shut down the timber harvest, a vital part of forest management — and a requirement of the O&C Act — and to think that recreation will replace that economic engine is folly at best.

Ed Kupillas is a retired professional forester with experience in both public and private timber management.