Tuesday, April 7, 2015

May the Forest Be With You*

File:Oregon forest and mist.jpg
Stand beside me as I stand beside a tree and you will likely hear me say, "Trees are my talisman." 

Whether walking in the woods, sitting on my front porch near the stalwart Persian Ironwood, looking out the back windows to towering fir trees in a neighbor's yard or marveling at the beauty of the many varieties of maple tree in my own backyard, the same sense of delight and wonder comes over me. 

I feel such a oneness with trees that when I see a log truck barreling down the highway loaded with newly hewn logs piled high on the trailer, a real sadness comes over me. I know, I know: lumber is necessary to build our homes (but wait: does anyone really need a 10,000 sq. ft. home???) and the "timber counties" in Oregon benefit (or have benefited) from Federal timber payments (which strikes me as ridiculous as tying our school funding to income from lottery dollars). 

The Oregonian newspaper's December 24, 2014 edition featured a guest column by George Wuerthner, a Bend, Oregon ecologist writing about forest fires and forest ecology. Wuerthner states, "Though it is nearly universal among most people who have been taught to think about wildfires as destructive, from an ecological perspective it belies a failure to really understand forest ecology."

A few days later another article appeared which seemed to imply that both timber company owners and those who usually decry clear-cutting were in some kind of agreement regarding the thinning of our "forests." I can't help but think there was a bit of skewed reporting going on here. 

Planting trees in order to remake a "forest" is clearly impossible. A true forest can never be made by man. When forests are clear-cut, scabbed and scarred land becomes ripe for landslides. 

As with all of life's conundrums, some middle ground must be found or else, in this case, we risk slipping and sliding down a muddy, barren hill without a limb to grab onto.   

*Portland Nursery marquee December 2014
Photo Michael Richardson, -2-7-2012 - Oregon