Make Shasta County Great Again? Timber!

Logging truck outside Westwood circa 1958. Courtesy of www.cardcow.com.

Logging truck outside Westwood circa 1958. Courtesy of www.cardcow.com.

The logging trucks are rolling through Whitmore again and it has nothing to do with President-elect Donald Trump. The bone-dry woods of eastern Shasta County have finally absorbed enough water from recent storms to permit timber harvesting after a Cal Fire-enforced hiatus last season. It’s good to see them, and even though they’ll be gone as soon as the limited cutting’s done, I like to imagine Trump is already making Shasta County great again.

Sure, it’s a fantasy, but is it all that far-fetched? Trump hasn’t even taken the oath of office and numerous American manufacturers have announced their intention to build new factories in the United States instead of Mexico or overseas, including Ford Motor Company. Automobile manufacturing is to the rust belt what the timber industry was to much of the American west, including Shasta County. If Trump can bring back Detroit, surely he can bring back Redding?

I haven’t personally lived long enough in Shasta County to judge whether it was great at some time in the distant past and is relatively not so great now. But for the purposes of this story, let’s presume that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the local timber industry was booming along with the state’s heavily subsidized post-WWII economy, Shasta County really was great, in terms of earning a decent wage and raising a family and all the good things associated with the American way of life.

Consider the now-abandoned Shasta Mill in Anderson, built in the early 1960s and shuttered in 2001. The pulp and paper mill was once the county’s largest employer, over time providing thousands of residents with well-paying, long-term jobs with benefits. A website dedicated to Shasta Mill created by former employees offers this illuminating glimpse of the local timber industry in the fabulous 1960s:

“How about the glow from those teepee burners at lumber mills dotted along old Highway 99 between Anderson and Redding? It was reported that when Shasta County implemented the local air quality control standards as a result of the federal Clean Air Act around 1971, that the local area had approximately twenty teepee burners operating at the time. Don’t forget that Cottonwood and CV had teepee burners at their moulding mill operations, too!”

That’s right, the good old days, when a greasy film of fine, fresh soot covered your windshield every morning and particles of dioxin and mercury settled in you and your children’s lungs with every breath. Keep in mind Shasta County’s population was about 60,000 in 1960, one-third of the approximately 180,000 residents who live here today.C

We were a tougher breed back then, blissfully unaware of our hazardous surroundings because there was a job to be done and virtually no environmental regulations to prevent us from doing it. It must have been a sulfureous hellscape during summertime heat inversions, this Valley of the 20 Teepee Burners! Yet Shasta County prospered.

Similar environmental and economic conditions prevailed in timber towns all across the rural American west. Citizens were just beginning to wake up to the environmental havoc wreaked by unregulated industries, including timber and mining.

Their concern, reflected in the actions of politicians, wasn’t the strictly partisan affair it’s become today. It was a Republican, President Richard Nixon, who signed the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and created the EPA, with bipartisan support, in the early 1970s. Throw in an economic recession, and the 40-year decline of Shasta County’s timber industry had begun.

In California, another Republican, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, signed the Forest Practice Act in 1973, “to ensure that logging is done in a manner that will preserve and protect our fish, wildlife, forests and streams.” It didn’t bring an immediate halt to rapacious timber operations, particularly on the northern California coast, where clearcutting of old growth redwoods continued well into the 1980s. However, federal and state regulations did slow down the industry as a whole.

In 1992, I landed a journalism gig in Ocean Shores, Washington, just about as far west on the coast as you can get. I remember driving up Highway 101 on the motorcycle (BMW R80RT), crossing the bridge at Astoria, Oregon, and entering Washington, where I was greeted by mile-after-mile-after-mile of clearcut forest.

I’d never seen clearcutting techniques up close and personal. In some sections, the trees were mowed down on both sides of the road, just stumps, enormous stumps, extending endlessly beyond the periphery, as far as I could see, occasionally interrupted by giant piles of slash and broken logs. It was as devastated as a bombed-out city. I was shocked at the carnage.

By the time I arrived in Ocean Shores, virtually all logging had been shut down for several years because the federal government had declared the northern spotted owl a threatened species. The locals weren’t exactly enthusiastic about the decision, as I discovered when the publisher’s boyfriend got manhandled by a bunch of laid-off loggers who spied his Greenpeace bumper sticker while he was trying to sell an ad to a sawmill owner.

Even though it was obvious to me that the logging had been shut down for good reason—the massive amount of clearcutting—I felt sympathy for the gaunt, flannel-clad young men wandering the streets of Aberdeen, the county seat, a timber town, the place where Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain grew up. What were they supposed to do with their lives now? Follow Cobain’s footsteps to Seattle? Play the lottery? Shoot heroin?

Fast forward a quarter-century or so and I’m still wondering the same thing. What are these gaunt, mostly young men wandering our streets supposed to do for a living, assuming we can get them off the streets and sobered up in the first place?

And it’s not just happening here. It’s happening all over rural America. In one sense, Trump’s victory represents a cry for help from mostly white small town America, Hillary Clinton’s deplorables, Barrack Obama’s bitter clingers, the great white underclass excoriated by National Review political analyst Kevin D. Williamson in a widely-read essay during the run-up to the election:

“The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. … The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.”

For the record, Williamson, a conservative Republican, was referring to his native west Texas, as well as Appalachia, but he might as well have been talking about the entire Central Valley, from Bakersfield to Redding. As vitriolic and hurtful as his cut-to-the-bone remarks are, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that he may be right.

Since 2000, small towns and medium-sized rural cities such as Redding, lacking any sort of major industry, have struggled for survival in the wake of two major economic recessions. It’s not uncommon for Shasta County residents, bemoaning the stagnant economy and rising crime rate, to pull up stakes and move, no Kevin D. Williamson required.

Log loader on the cutting edge near Whitmore. Photo by R.V. Scheide.

Log loader on the cutting edge near Whitmore. Photo by R.V. Scheide.

The good news (I guess) is Shasta County’s population is still growing, so it can’t be all bad. Perhaps people stay for the scenery. Mt. Shasta and Lassen Peak, all the lakes and all the wonderful trees. We’ve got an awful lot of trees.

According to a Shasta County Resource Management report, more than half of the county’s 2,428,000 acres are dedicated to commercial forest uses. Of those 1,231,000 acres, 529,000 acres are publicly held, largely by the U.S. Forest Service. Some 702,000 acres are privately held. Sierra Pacific Industries, the last remaining major timber industry employer in Shasta County, is the largest private landholder.

The report notes the timber industry’s dramatic decline in employment between 1990 and 2000:

“The nature of Shasta County’s economy has undergone significant structural changes, and the timber industry, although still important, does not command the share of Shasta County’s economy that it once did. In 2002, wood products had dropped to 32.3 percent of total manufacturing employment compared to 46 percent in 1990 and only represented 1.3 percent of total county employment, down from 4.5 percent in 1990. The number of wood products jobs was 35 percent less than in 1990.”

Today the timber industry accounts for 1 percent of total county employment. Sierra Pacific has anywhere from 100 to 249 employees, depending on the global demand for wood products. There are a handful of small-to-medium sized operations, such as Warner Enterprises, which is harvesting the trees and loading the trucks that have been rolling through Whitmore the past several months.

It was those trucks that got me fantasizing about Donald Trump making Shasta County great again. According to Trump’s count, he’s already saved or created 51,500 jobs and that’s not counting Ford’s recent decision to build a $7 billion factory that will provide 700 jobs in Flat Rock, Michigan, instead of Mexico.

What could Trump do for Shasta County’s timber industry? The answer is obvious to those possessed with a Jefferson State of Mind: “Get rid of the all those damned regulations.”

That would include federal laws, which Trump might be able to do something about, as well as much stricter state and local laws, which he can do nothing about. My own mind is not quite up to processing the complexities of timber industry regulation and the wood products market, so for enlightenment I fired off some email questions to Mark Pawlicki, Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Sierra Pacific Industries.

First, I asked Pawlicki:

“Are there any federal environmental regulations that could potentially be repealed or altered by the Trump administration that would permit Sierra Pacific to expand its operations in Shasta County and thus increase its workforce–without causing undue harm to the environment?”

Pawlicki generously replied:

“I don’t foresee the Trump Administration making adverse changes to federal environmental laws in any way that would cause harm to the environment. They are likely to look at streamlining certain aspects of federal permits, but that won’t be known for some time yet. We anticipate our workforce in this area to remain about the same.

“We are growing significantly more timber on our lands than we are harvesting. That’s good news for the future. Over the next 90 or so years we will nearly triple the volume of timber we have on all of our California lands that we have now, and the average diameter of our trees will go from about 18 inches to about 30 inches. It is unclear to us the volume of timber the U.S. Forest Service will produce. That will be decided by Congress, the agency, and the Administration.”

I asked Pawlicki to play along with my Trump-making-Shasta-County-great-again fantasy, but no dice. My exact question was:

“Is it fair to say Shasta County was ‘great’ back in the 1950s-’60s as far as the timber industry’s role in the local economy, and the lifestyle it supported?”

Pawlicki made short work of it.

“We don’t look back at the past. Our efforts are focused on growing trees for the future and making sure our mills are modernized and efficient to be able to compete in the marketplace.”

So much for my romanticized view of the past. Even though Pawlicki kind of spoiled my Trump fantasy, I was pleased to learn Sierra Pacific is increasing the diameter of their trees to 30 inches. We’ve got a large SP tract next to our property, and judging by the trunk size, we’ve got a ways to go before harvest time.

It's not pretty, but like a bad haircut, it will grow back. Photo by R.V. Scheide.

It’s not pretty, but like a bad haircut, it will grow back. Photo by R.V. Scheide.

The loggers will eventually come, and when they’re done it’ll look a lot like the tract alongside Ponderosa Road where the trucks have been coming and going. I drove down there on the last sunny afternoon to take some photographs of the trucks, but the crew had already knocked off for the day. A skidder, feller buncher, woodchipper, and log loader parked near the edge of the cut loomed like robot dinosaurs over the savaged landscape.

It’s a selective cut, perhaps a couple of hundred acres at most. Some trees are left standing. The mesquite, brush, bark and wood waste have been chipped and the tract will soon be replanted. Everybody who lives up here knew it was coming; the trees have been blue-lined for several years. But it’s still a little like visiting a crime scene the first time you see it. A 10-man crew armed with modern logging machinery can get a lot of work done in a short period of time.

The Douglas fir and ponderosa pine being hauled off to the sawmill will be made into lumber, and the wood waste will be burned to make electricity in a co-generation plant. How many people are employed at any given time in the industry may depend more on the global demand for wood products and local demand for wood waste for co-generation facilities than Trump appointing alleged climate-change denier Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.

One issue that’s sure to be debated is the burning of biomass, including wood waste, to produce electricity. It appears that what not too many decades ago was considered a cutting edge alternative energy source is not as carbon neutral as once thought, and has thus fallen into disfavor with environmentalists, who prefer wind and solar power as cleaner, more efficient choices.

Burney Forest Power and Shasta Green, a co-generation facility and the sawmill that supplies its fuel located in Burney, were nearly shuttered late last year until a last-minute reprieve from Gov. Jerry Brown. Brown signed a bill that helped broker a deal between Burney Forest Power and PG&E that will keep the the plant and the sawmill open another five years, saving 85 jobs. While the details of the deal haven’t been made public, in essence, the state is now subsidizing the plant and the mill.

The fact that Brown, who portrays himself as an environmentalist, would sign a bill that bucks current environmentalist trends to save a mere 85 jobs probably says more about the state of California’s rural communities than anything else. Burney residents interviewed by the local daily after learning they’d received a five-year reprieve sounded more mournful than celebratory, as if they were attending a wake.

That’s how it is living in small-town rural America. You expect to be dying any day now, if you’re not dead already. So forgive me for this Trumpian fantasy. No matter how many climate change deniers he appoints, there’s apparently not too much he can do for or to Shasta County, which will soon boast its first methadone clinic. With Trump’s emphasis on law and order, perhaps there will be subsidies available to round up the lost young men wandering our streets and get them into treatment. Hopefully, they’ll have options other than U-Haul by the time they get out.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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60 Responses

  1. name says:

    If only the Federal forests were managed more like SPI, we would have a lot less devastating fires, as well as less damage from beetles.  (I am not associated with SPI)

    When the snow clears, go up and check out Latour (past Whitmore) – the State does a fairly decent job of managing that forest.

    • Doug says:

      Actually, a recently published study comparing forest fires on private and public lands found that private forestlands like SPI’s have HIGHER severity fires whereas federal forests that have the most protection from logging have comparatively LOWER severity fires:

      http://nrfirescience.org/resource/14718

       

       

      • Duke K. says:

        The Fountain Fire is an example of what happens to commercial logging (Roseburg, SPI, Kimberly Clark) tree plantations in a point source fire event.  Total devastation; only the occasional old growth conifer or oak left alive, not to mention all the houses destroyed.

        • Jeff says:

          Duke:  Take a look at Google Earth’s historic satellite imagery of the area impacted by the Fountain Fire.  There are very few plantations within the perimeter of the burn before the fire.  So stating that plantations contributed to the devastation caused by this fire seems misguided.

          • Duke K. says:

            Jeff,

            I’m going to check out Google Earth to see if  my memories are incorrect.  What I believe is that  the plantations I saw from  driving my car and  pickup from Highway 299 for the 10 years preceding the Fountain Fire were along both sides of the highway.   In terms of land area, the plantations may not have been the majority of the land area but their locations at the bottom of the slopes made them act like kindling.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        That’s interesting, and counter to the conventional wisdom that federal forests are in need of fire suppression.

      • Mike says:

        That article was written by individuals associated with extreme environmentalist organizations who make their money litigating timber harvest projects, often times winning due to procedural errors on the project proponents part.  The data is manipulated to achieve their foregone conclusion that forest management is bad.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          Thank you Mike! We should always question the sources of our data for potential bias.

        • Jeff says:

          The Center for Biological Diversity (whom the primary author is with) and Chad Hanson (second author) are generally considered to be on the “extreme”  end of the environmentalist spectrum.   While I have not thoroughly reviewed this article (and therefore am making no comment as to it’s content), just remember to take information from any source with a grain of salt (for example, on the other end of the spectrum, I might also question the bias in a scientific study published by Exxon-Mobile).  Everyone is biased–some just more than others.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I’ve checked out Latour, and I’ve explored all the mountains around Whitmore via motorcycle on the logging roads. It’s like a patchwork quilt up there, but the big cuts are still a lot smaller than what I witnessed on the coast and in Washington State. It appears that everybody is doing a pretty good job managing their forests here today.

  2. Duke K. says:

    When we moved to Trinity County in 1964 and then to Shasta County in 1969, timber harvesting was a major economic force in N. Calif.  Unions were strong, but unemployment was high, especially during the winter.

    Over the last 53 years, I’ve seen the results of the “cut out , then get out” practices of the major timber companies.  It’s been ugly.  Species on the verge of extinction is not the only environmental effect.  Catastrophic fires, air pollution, soil erosion, spraying of  toxic chemicals have played major roles in degrading the health of the local communities.

    On the other hand, local forest managers, like Beatty Associates,  and independent foresters, like  Jim Chapin, took a longer view and promoted selective harvest techniques which protect species, reduce fire danger, and minimize environmental degradation.

    Which type of forest practices do you think  Trump would favor?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      It’s unclear at this point what Trump will do, Duke, but I’d guess that whatever happens, it will pertain to federal lands policy.  Perhaps allowing more wood to be harvested, to raise revenue and create a few new jobs? Pay more people for fire suppression?

      • K. Beck says:

        Trump believes in law suits. He will do whatever he decides to do and let the lawyers battle it out, costing US citizens millions, if not billions, of dollars. It isn’t his money, after all. Start keeping track of how many law suits are filed against the US Gov over breaking environmental laws. I once ended up, by accident, in a clear cut area. It looked like a Nuc had been dropped. The logging co. had left enough trees by the highway to make it look like there was forest back there! Keep doing that and there will be no forest left. Manage the land, replant the trees. Manage for fires. It isn’t rocket science.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          I hope you’re wrong about the law suits being the end game! Life can’t be that cynical?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Also Duke, I was curious back in the good old union days, when mill workers were laid off in the winter, did they get unemployment or some sort of stipend?

      • Duke K. says:

        Yes, they did get unemployment benefits and were financially OK, but they went through stresses like “cabin fever” that led to drinking, spousal and child abuse, and depression.

        Pay more for fire suppression?!  No.  There have been many instances of fire “fighters” (and even one of a FF’s mother) starting fires to get more work.

        How about putting seasonal workers to work doing forest management during the winter months.  Hand pruning of brush and fuel ladders would be expensive initially, but save tax dollars in the long run.  The cost of fighting fires is geometrically more expensive.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          Yes, the pruning and forest management is what I was referring to, I knew “fire suppression” wasn’t right.

  3. Vi Lam says:

    If only the federal forests and private timberland owners were able to take a clue from Collins Pine in Chester, CA. A well-managed forest, filled with high-dollar conifers. Mostly selective cutting. A company that hasn’t cut themselves out of jobs over the decades. And what a beautiful forest for the grandkids to romp in!

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Vi Lam, is there any company doing this in Shasta County you’re aware of?

    • Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

      I remember doing a Mt. Bike ride in the 80s that started at a campground  near Lake Almanor.   I was blown away when I walked in the forest at how healthy the trees looked….and then I realized that this was a new growth forest!   It had never occurred to me that there were people in the lumber industry who treated forests as a renewable resource and put energy and effort into replanting trees to replace the trees that were harvested.

       

  4. Grammy says:

    Shasta County needs to look differently at looking great. Wish that we become the “Fitness county” where there are bike lanes every where. think Montgomery Ranch area where there is a bike and walking trail around the area. So many people come west out Placer Road because it is so beautiful but we just do not have the wide roads to accommodate the traffic when added to the cars and garbage trucks.
    Sundial Bridge has relay races, marathons, and a few other healthy events that bring people in from all area of the North State. Add to that the walking trail around their gardens (if only people felt safe after dusk.) Maybe they would be willing to up their game and have more events or support walking trails outside their park. This kind of thing would bring more people into their hotel also. Even one around the lakes (think Tahoe) would be great.
    There just isn’t much to attract people to Shasta County. We do not have the high paying jobs of Sacramento. When our children leave to make their way, they do not come back (we even have to visit them!) Sac has events almost every week to keep fit. They do not have great bike paths though. You have to use walking paths that they have through parks, levies, or rivers.
    Just saying there are other ways to make Shasta County great again than cutting down the trees that never seem to get planted again. The fires come, decimate the land and it just stays that way, decimated! Thinking outside the box is now needed.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      Well, to my way of thinking, taking another look out our most valuable natural resource and what used to be our biggest industry and seeing if there’s some way to wrangle a few more jobs out of it is “thinking outside the box.” I wasn’t going to focus on timber, but then I got really depressed because in Shasta County there’s nothing to focus on … except maybe government employment or hospitals. Heck, we’ve got a gift horse looking us in the mouth with marijuana, and Shasta County still can’t do the right thing. It’s frustrating. I wouldn’t want to be a young person here looking for work.

      • K. Beck says:

        “…Collins Pine in Chester, CA. A well-managed forest, filled with high-dollar conifers. Mostly selective cutting. A company that hasn’t cut themselves out of jobs over the decades. And what a beautiful forest for the grandkids to romp in!”

        Invite these people to Redding! Maybe they are looking to expand?

        Redding is not so great for older people looking for jobs, either.

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          K. Beck: As an older person, I try not to advertise my 3 part-time jobs. But I hear ya!

  5. Rod says:

    “This Trumpian Fantasy”? The return to logging jobs in Shasta County?  Good one RV.

    While we round-up the young men walking our streets,  we’ll need to nab their young women and infants too.  There has to be a current statistic on newborn heroin addicts here at home.  The numbers are grossly huge.

    My family recently rescued a baby human heroin addict from it’s mother and father, both of whom continue to test positive on their CPS mandated tests.  The parents can look but not touch the innocent creation.  Baby has improved healthwise, but questions are many.

    We should focus on raising strong healthy people, the trees wouldn’t mind.

     

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      The chief estimates as many as 400 opiate addicts on our streets. Once we get them sobered up, they’ll need something to do. Obviously we can’t go back to the days of clear cutting and pulp mills, but perhaps there are 200-300 more jobs we can create that are forest-related. Perhaps just fire suppression and fire fighters. Anything we can get a subsidy for.

      • You hit the nail on the head with regard to getting people off drugs: … and then what? What do they do then? Where’s the reason to wake up in the morning and stay clean?

        I grew up in Redding and remember the paper-mill smell that hung in the air. I also remember that for guys who weren’t cut out for college, there were mill jobs that allowed them to earn a living wage. There’s nothing here like that now.

      • Common Sense says:

        If the city and county allowed and taxed Cannabis sales and production in Shasta County that could easily add 50+ jobs in a short amount of time and up to 150 jobs in 2-3 years with full production facilities( if they didn’t TAX them to Death)…..

        The Opposite of Addiction is Connection……the reason many are addicted to what they are addicted to is because they have no connection to anything…many have no connection to family/real friends etc….and I would think many have come from bad family situations/abuse etc growing up.

        Not only would the city and county benefit from the Millions in tax revenues there would be jobs created by saying YES instead of the all too common NO………funny you don’t hear anyone really talking about that?

        There is a Cost to saying NO on this topic……its millions of dollars……money to fix roads….put more police on the streets….help with Programs to GET those that WANT to better their lives into treatment and give them jobs…..there will always be those that just want to keep using…..so why not help those that want to help themselves!

        And before anyone jumps in and starts with the “Oh my God you want to put drug addicts to work growing POT” comments…..these people can be Helped OFF the Heroin and other drugs by using Medical Cannabis!…Plenty of facts on that out there….IF one wants to learn anything on the topic……so who better than those that really want to….and need to, get help, than to have them learn that taking care of plants can help not only themselves….it can give them job skills and build self esteem etc…..Gardening is gardening….if they learn to take care of Cannabis they can use that skill in other Ag related areas…..a plant is a plant ….and yes Cannabis is scheduled as an AG product now….

        Anyone else have any ideas on providing 50-100 jobs to start and Generate Millions for the city and county to work with??……I am all ears if you do….I will be happy to support that also!….Nothing changes…..if we don’t change…….change our minds on what is right and wrong based on Opinions and not Facts…..

        If the City and the County Say NO to Cannabis retail sales and production….they are ALSO saying NO to the Grants to help get these people off the streets and into Drug Recovery programs/educational money etc …..NO = NO MONEY FROM THE STATE….Read Prop 64 for that FACT…….the counties and cities that say NO will have ZERO Grants for drug programs from the State ( out of the estimated 1 Billion in tax revenues)…..mmmmm…… think that might make things better or Worse in the Just Say NO areas?

        2156 Jobs created thus far in Oregon……and that’s in the small number of Counties that have said YES….instead of NO…… $46 Million paid out in wages for cannabis workers 2016 estimate….

        Let us not forget the second draft of the Declaration of Independence was written on Hemp Paper…….It was Hearst and Dupont and a few others that feared Hemp cutting into their Timber Profits that helped get it ALL outlawed….Hemp is a Far Superior Paper Product to Timber…..and since not many new jobs have been created in the Timber Industry…isn’t it time we look at some alternatives?

        http://www.cannabisjobsresearch.com/

         

        • Rod says:

          Yes, CS, the fear circulating is that we are in fact already in the process of increasing the excess taxation offered by the ignorant and uninformed.  Local councils of government love to enact unconstitutional financial sanctions against our green industry. Profit seekers repeatedly agree to accept the notion of bigger government and heavier taxes.  The burden will indeed “tax to death” the hand being offered to help.

          Our latest go-round, prop 64, is already under state level assault.

           

    • Common Sense says:

      For all this Drug Talk here is a video that shows what success looks like in other Country’s….. Connection is the Key…….

  6. Frank Treadway says:

    Speaking of saving trees, we have a virtual rainforest right here in downtown Redding on the corner of Oregon and Yubas Sts. The area the new Court House is being built on. If anyone is interested in saving these six 100 year old Redwoods that are taller than any building in Shasta County, then consider getting in touch with the site manager,  in Sacramento, of the Shasta Co. Court House and ask her to have the architect and the contractor  save these trees for our future.

  7. Anita Lynn Brady says:

    “I don’t foresee the Trump Administration making adverse changes to federal environmental laws in any way that would cause harm to the environment.” SPI spokesman.

    Thanks, RV. This quote be laugh out loud– and I have a cold and don’t feel at all amused. Did you speak to the man in person or did you do phone interview. I was wondering if his nose grew longer as he said these words?

  8. cheyenne says:

    The first time I went to meet my wives parents in Hayfork it took me four hours to get from Redding to Hayfork.  It was raining and foggy and my 1958 Ford had vacuum wipers that would stop working when I stepped on the gas.  My future father-in-law worked at the Sierra Pacific sawmill in Hayfork, truck driver.  He said they were non-union because SP would pay them the same wages as the unions paid to keep the mill non-union.  One of my future brother-in-laws worked at the Wildwood mill and lived in company housing.  All gone now.  My brother-in-law went to work at Simpson and worked there until they closed.  In 1974 my pregnant wife, my son, my brother-in-law and his wife and son lived in a motel room in Anderson.  I went from Central Valley to Corning looking for any kind of work.  Those were not the good old days.  Finally I went to San Francisco and found work.

    Tiring of the crime and city congestion I moved back to Anderson.  This was my good time has we didn’t have to drive six or seven hours for the kids to see grandma anymore.  There were some pitfalls but Shasta County was starting to boom again, a false boom because of housing, that saw so many new real estate salesforce that they were thicker than the trees.  When I worked at the school district it seemed half the teachers were also real estate people as their name cards filled the peg board.  When I retired, 2006, the economy was starting to show signs of distress.

    As far as marijuana, living in Trinity County it was almost mandatory to have a couple of plot plants growing in the backyard.  Around 2002 we looked at buying a seasonal tract of land in Trinity County.  We looked at Trinity Pines and we could have bought four and five acres for $400.  It was too far off the grid.  After I retired and moved away I would check prices of property in the northstate.  Right in the middle of the housing recession that four acre plot and others was selling for upwards of$25,000.  It takes no thought of why.   The other day I checked prices in Trinity Pines.  One lot was selling for $160,000 and was advertised as cleared by a recent fire and ready for any project.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      What an awesome comment. Thanks!

    • Rod says:

      I still get up to Hayfork maybe a dozen times a year.  2 wheelin’ into town from any direction is a trip through an ol’time paradise for me.  Shasta and Trinity original cultivators often laugh at the name Emerald Triangle.  The late 70s and early 80s things were a bit hippiefied and peaceful.  Talk about stopping to smell the roses?  It was all sativa then.  Skunk from short fat indica hadn’t made it here yet.

      And that was when logging labor paid better than drug trafficking.

       

       

      • cheyenne says:

        Actually, the Emerald Triangle is Trinity, Humboldt, and Siskiyou counties.  I remember back in the day when I was warned to never park on the highway to Denny during harvest season.  The chances of being shot were good.  I never tested that theory.

  9. michael kielich says:

    I have visited the Sierra Pacific Lumber Mill in Anderson. It is exceptionally efficient. I may be wrong, because I don’t have very much historical reference, but it seems that most of the jobs at these “mega-mills” have been replaced by computers and automation. They seem to have caused the demise of small town mills. From my observations of the Sierra Pacific mill, and my understanding of mills in the past, very few people are needed now to run a technologically advanced mill like the one in Anderson. It almost runs on it own. In the future, with robots and artificial intelligence being the norm, it may be able to operate without people, including the computer driven 18 wheelers hauling the logs to dock. Why should SP hire the entitled welfare recipients of Shasta County when robots will do a far better job?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      You are correct, a lot of mill jobs have been totally automated. I think the robot trucks are a ways off …

  10. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    I worked at the paper mill in Anderson for two summers and it was a great job and paid better than any other entry level job in Shasta County at that time.  I was part of a “clean up” crew that cleaned I-beams from a cherry picker,  painted, did general maintenance, cleaned built up paper from pulp shoots…think mega spit wads!.  It was hard work but the pay matched the effort.  My sister’s father-in-law had built a home and raised a family on the livable wage he made at the mill.

    More children were born in the U.S. in 2007 than any other year in the history of this country.  The new baby boom is huge.  And there are fewer living wage jobs for young people anywhere.

    I heard that Ford is opening up 700 new jobs at an existing factory in Michigan but is still considering opening another in Mexico.

    I would like insurance companies to move their customer service jobs back to the U.S. from India and the Philippines.   I would like to see car manufacturing, clothing industries and tech jobs come back to the U.S.  Not the greatest jobs in the world, but having a secure, living wage job is all a lot of people need to take care of themselves and their families.   We might lose a wealth of cheaply made products in the process, but learn how do take care of quality products so they last longer.

  11. Hollyn Chase says:

    Thank you R.V. For a balanced article on a complex subject. My husband has worked in the lumber industry in three states for 43 years. I remember the years in Coeur d’Alene. My husband sold lumber for Louisiana Pacific and I was a social worker. Coeur d’Alene was a lumber town of 17,000 then with four large mills; now it is a tourist town. The jobs created to replace the mill jobs are largely in the service industry–many minimum wage.

    Since that time, as an artist and a teacher, I have been surrounded by people highly critical of the lumber industry. I, too, hated the teepee burners and loathed clear cuts.  I still do. But the lumber industry provided a living for my family. And that is the crux of the issue. It’s all about the money. SP and others in the timber industry view forests as a crop. They will harvest that crop in the most economic way possible. They will replant with  single species farms because that’s how they make the most money.  They use that money to pay their employees well, give them health benefits, and contribute to our community–note their large contributions to Mercy Hospital and One Safe Place–plus every single employees’ child is scholarshipped for college. The lumber industry in California is the most heavily regulated in the world and SP products are therefore considered the “greenest”. But, like Anita, I shudder to think of what would happen without Federal and State regulation. It is highly popular in this time and place to decry government “interference.” But it is that very interference that has forced industries to run cleaner, safer, more environmentally friendly businesses. Don’t kid yourself that business would ever voluntarily choose anything over profit. Never has happened, never will.

    So, for those of you who think Trump and his cohorts will bring prosperity by ushering in a pro-business, anti-regulation era I would say: Be very careful what you ask for. You may not like the way things are now, but things could get a whole lot worse. But, hey, this is one time I’d love to be proven wrong.

  12. Frank Treadway says:

    Back to our own set of 100 year old Redwoods on Yuba & Oregon Sts, to make comment on keeping them in tact, call the Court House site manager, Peggy Symons: 916.643.8009, or peggy.symons@jud.ca.gov. She’s very accustomed to listening to locals and their comments and comments do make a difference from community minded folks.

    Regarding the forest industry in Shasta County from the 1950s to present. I lived next door to US Plywood before it was sold to other forest product companies, and by the number of trucks hauling trees into the plant almost on a 24/7 basis, I submit they feverishly over cut during this period and put themselves out of business. Leaving our landscapes, in most places,  devastated to the point of scrub-like foliage, thus prime undergrowth for the fires we’ve seen over the last few years.

  13. name says:

    as to the SPI tract near your property – there is a chance that they could just clear the whole thing in the near future and replant it.  That way the land is working better for them long-term.  Right now there is not a large amount of harvestable timber there.  The fact that it was recently surveyed is interesting…

  14. David Ledger says:

    If look at the first two pictures in the article you will know part of the reason why there are few mills and workers in the timber and lumber industry.
     The first picture from 1958 shows a huge old growth ponderosa pine on the trailer with the base about six feet in diameter. (Compare to the men standing there.)  The second picture shows comparatively small thin logs from a second or third growth clear cut on a tree plantation.
     The reason why we don’t have any more of the small mills in the area as most were built to handle old growth large logs.  There is very little old growth in Shasta County, all the big old growth logs are gone, at least on private land and most on US Forest Service land.  What you have left are tree plantations with small trees. Look at the equipment in the picture, it can cut and stack logs, no loggers are needed.   Many of the small mills weren’t competitive as they had the old fashioned one blade cut, so one log had to be run back and forth numerous times.  As was mentioned by other commenters on this column, if you go to a Sierra Pacific Mill, you will see how with automation, one man can do the work of 25 or more people.
     While it is popular to blame the spotted owl and environmentalists for the loss of jobs and the closing of mills, automation and clearcutting old growth in years’ past should take considerable blame.
     Many of the trees you saw in Washington were going to Port Angeles and other West Coast ports to be shipped overseas.  In 1988 24% of the harvest was shipped overseas as logs, a record year of almost 4 billion board feet.  Now only raw logs from private lands can be shipped overseas, but still almost 20% of the harvest is exported as raw logs, taking away timber and jobs from area mills.  Some people in Washington and Oregon call it exporting jobs. 
     Russia and Canada put tariffs on raw logs to greatly reduce their export and increase sales of finished lumber.  Russia tries to eliminate all log exports to save it for the local markets.
     While Trump may want to “Make America Great Again” it isn’t going to bring back the “good old days” what with robots making cars and automation in timber harvesting and lumber mills.  Nor will it bring back the ‘60’s when black workers in the mills in Weed, CA were assigned the most dangerous jobs and weren’t allowed to eat in company canteens, taking their meals from an outside window.
     
     
     

    • Linda says:

      Linda

      “Guard it well, for it is far more precious than money…once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.”  – Ansel Adams

  15. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Soon after I moved to Shasta County, a Registered Professional Forester told me that the listing of the Northern Spotted Owl didn’t help the local timber industry (much of our local timberlands lie outside the NSO’s range), but the bigger villain was Reagan’s deregulation of the financial industry.  Timber companies that had for up to 100 years selectively harvested trees were suddenly viewed as asset-heavy (in big trees) low-hanging fruit, ripe for hostile takeover—a practice which was financed in large part by junk bonds.  Once a timber company was purchased, it was time to scalp and sell the forests in order to pay back those junk bonds.  Timber companies that didn’t succumb to takeovers were pressured to cut and sell in order to reduce the value of their standing timber—they had to make themselves less valuable.

    Famously, Pacific Lumber Company, over on the coast, was purchased and its lands stripped of redwoods by MAXXIM, run by hostile-takeover artist Charles Hurwitz, using junk bonds issued by Michael Milken (who eventually went to federal prison).  Hurwitz, addressing PALCO employees following the takeover, told them: “There is the story of the golden rule: he who has the gold rules.”  In addition to aggressively clear-cutting PALCO lands, MAXXIM raided PALCO’s pension fund, which was “overfunded” relative to its liabilities.  Hurwitz siphoned off almost $30 million from the employee pension fund.

    I assume SPI was immune to hostile takeover because the company is closely held by the Emmerson family—no stockholders to seduce with sweet offers.  SPI seems to have weathered the downturn in the timber industry by cutting costs (closing mills), diversifying (going into real estate development and specialty products), and biding their time.

    Free trade agreements haven’t helped our local timber industry—all that cheap British Columbian timber.  I believe a trade dispute between the US and Canada over BC timber export practices still lingers.  BC stood accused of dumping timber at below-market rates to unfairly wrest control of the market.

    Finally, there is the job-stealing bugaboo that Trump supporters don’t particularly like to talk about: mechanization, which has cost the U.S. far more blue-collar jobs than trade agreements.  R.V. alludes to this in the article when he describes how much can be done by a logging crew of 10 in a short time using modern logging equipment.  Same goes for millwork.  I recently saw a car commercial in which two people holding clipboards watch an assembly line of robots produce a car—Walt Kowalski is nowhere to be seen.  U.S. manufacturing productivity has never been higher…but it’s robots doing most of the work.  What’re you gonna do about that, Mr. Trump?  Outlaw efficiency?

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I’m very familiar with the Pacific Lumber MAXXIM Hurwitz story. They rewarded him by making him head of the CSU while I was a student.

      I agree with what you say about automation and as one reader pointed out, the robot trucks are coming. What are we supposed to do?

  16. name says:

    When I was logging on one job, around 1997 or so, all of our good quality logs were being shipped to Japan.  Anything with a lot of knots, or not completely straight went to Sierraville or Loyalton mills.  It was very annoying, as we had two separate scale sheets, one metric and one regular.  We were upset that the quality logs were going to Japan, and may or may not have written some greetings on a few logs.

    Anyway, it would be interesting to see today’s numbers on timber % exported from the north state…