Log exports; was field skills lacking?

Larry Stamm larryst at vis.bc.ca
Sat Dec 13 11:03:10 EST 1997

On Wed, 10 Dec 1997 20:28:09 -0800, Michael Hagen <mhagen at mail.olympus.net>
>MHLarry Stamm wrote:
>> Are you saying that most of the high quality logs from your area (Washington
>> State?) are exported as raw logs?  Is this privately owned wood or off of
>> National Forest land?  The net effect of this on the local economy is the same
>> as if a portion of each truckload of logs was burned on the landing. ........ I'm
>> surprised local mills aren't able to outbid foreign buyers for a lot of this
>> wood.

>As far as competition from local mills, well, there aren't many and what
>do manage an existance have specialized in the "domestic" grades,
>meaning what used to be left here: rough 3S, pulp, now even 4S. A very
>few specialty mills have eaked out a living cutting utility from cull
>logs and hardwood but export was the way of life. And if you think it
>didn't bring in the cash, loggers had a better income than most
>"educated" city folk I knew! It was a harsh surprise for many of these
>guys when logging played out and they had to learn "uhh, you want fries
>with that?"

I'm sure the loggers did make good money, and those that still have work are
still bringing in big bucks.  But what about those mill workers who don't have a
job because of exported logs,  and the cabinet makers who don't have that
potential local lumber to use, or the instrument makers who have to buy back
spruce from Europeans after it was exported from the West Coast?  My point is
that although it may make immediate financial sense to the owner of the timber
to export it, that raw material is then lost for further manufacture in the
local community, and the effects of that loss can ripple a long way.   For the
community as a whole, it rarely is preferable to sell raw materials when it is
possible to manufacture them further.

And from my understanding of history, the fact that so much NFS timber was
exported from the NW as raw logs in the 70's was fuel for the environmental
movement against logging on NFS land.  Maybe the spotted owl would not have
garnered so much support if more of that wood was being locally manufactured
into quality products; if so, maybe today there would be more local mills still
around to bid on today's export logs.  Making a quick buck usually means that
somebody else at some other time pays the cost in lost opportunities.
Larry Stamm
PO Box 561
McBride, BC V0J 2E0

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