Is this the future of America’s national forests, or will Congress wake up before it is too late?
Jim Petersen's latest speech, "The Sun Is Rising on Indian Country," has already gone viral. Many who've read it love it, and many more hate what he had to say. Either way, Petersen's speech is well worth reading. We'd enjoy hearing from you. Tell us whether you agree or disagree with what he had to say at the 37th annual National Indian Timber Symposium, June 13, in Keshena, Wisconsin. In "Speeches" on the toolbar you will also find a related speech, "Is it Time to give our Federal Forests back to the Indians."
I suspect many of you in this room know me - if only by reputation.
I first spoke at one of your national symposiums in 2007. It was a lovely June afternoon in Polson, Montana, and the drive down the East Shore of Flathead Lake from my home in Bigfork was simply spectacular. The title of my speech was, "Is it Time to Give Our Federal Forests Back to the Indians?" I said I thought so, and you seemed to like the idea.
I spoke again at your 33rd annual symposium in Lewiston, Idaho and at your 34th at Ruidoso, New Mexico. Both times I talked about branding and marketing a tribal image. I continue to believe, as I have for many years, that your story - the story of your spiritual, cultural and economic connections to land - is your brand.
Speaking of your brand, I was also a member of Gary Morishima's branding and marketing team. We nearly struck a deal with Lowes for distribution of tribal lumber in the United States. Then the housing market went down in flames in the wake of Wall Street's collapse and, suddenly, no one wanted to buy any lumber. The so-called "Great Recession" crushed tribal forestry and sawmilling. I don't need to remind you how painful the last four years have been.
But the nation's economy seems to be improving - albeit slowly - and the recovery in housing markets has begun in earnest. In fact, lumber prices are sky high and are predicted to go even higher in the coming months. It is a good time to take the pulse of tribal forestry in America.
When Jim Erickson asked me if I would participate in this panel discussion, I readily accepted his invitation. Asserting tribal influence on the landscape is a topic of great interest to me. So, too, is the coming IFMAT III report, which will again be the subject of a special issue of Evergreen Magazine. We have been down this road with you twice before - first in 1998 with IFMAT I and then in 2006 with IFMAT II. We hope to complete our IFMAT III Evergreen report in September. Wish us luck.
Kathy, Becky and Jody Jones have written an essay concerning the Rough and Ready Lumber Company closure that speaks volumes for all that is wrong with Oregon's feckless political leadership. They are the daughters of Aaron Jones, one of America's most successful independent lumbermen in the post-world War II era. They grew up in their father's hip pocket and now oversee his Seneca family of companies. In his heyday, the entrepreneurial Jones was an industry leader and, like his brethren, a bit of a maverick. His Seneca Sawmill Company at Eugene, Oregon is widely believed to be the most technologically advanced long dimension sawmill in the world. Click here to read their thoughtful essay.
by Jim Petersen, Founder & Executive Director, the non-profit Evergreen Foundation
Counting only my Evergreen years, this is my twenty-eighth year at war. If I count my family's heritage in sawmilling, it can then be said that I was born into this war more than 69 years ago.
All wars are hell, but this one has been god-awful. And still there is no end in sight.
We face superior armies with far more firepower than we've ever had. They are well trained, well organized and exceptionally well equipped. Our rag-tag band fights bravely, but we inevitably take heavy casualties, then retreat into the darkness where we bury our dead and contemplate our next counter attack.
We are fighting for the future of a simple but very powerful idea - that this nation's publicly owned forests ought to be managed by trained professionals for the economic and environmental benefits they are very capable of yielding. Although I find great appeal in this idea, many oppose it in the belief that only nature can correctly manage forests. I disagree. More on this later.
Figuratively speaking, I have occupied the same front line foxhole since the fall of 1985. Most I knew then are dead now. Some died of old age. Others perished along with entire companies. All of our command centers - brigade-sized forest industry associations that practically invented forestry in America - have been obliterated. There are no survivors.
Our Daily Wood
Every day, each of Earth's 5.4 billion inhabitants, on the average, use the equivalent of a 4-pound slab of wood. But the average American uses 3.5 times this much wood. Should American's be using less wood? No Way!