Timber: The world’s largest sustainable crop
What do you see when you look up at the forest-covered mountains?
Forests? Trees? A crop awaiting harvest?
Quick answer: All of the above.
The reality is that it is the forests AND the trees that dominate our North Idaho home matter — as well as the focus by the timber industry officials to keep what is essentially a sustainable crop available for harvest not just today, not just tomorrow, but decades and centuries into the future.
Both forest and trees are important and both are an integral part of the community; one as a source of jobs and identity, and the other which forms part of the iconic views that make this community such a special and unique place to call home. Each day, there are new products, new ways to do business and enterprising individuals and businesses carving out new niches. It’s only appropriate to highlight these businesses, loggers and ideas as we wrap up Idaho Forest Products Week, designated by Gov. Brad Little as Oct. 18-24. As the week pays tribute to the industry’s past, present and future, there’s no doubt times are tougher than they have been in years past. First the Great Recession, then the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic and there are fewer timber jobs and mills have closed in both Bonner and Boundary counties compared to the heydays of years past. But don’t count the timber industry out — there is still plenty of demand and plenty of folks looking to be a part of it.
Technology is playing a greater role, allowing mills and their dedicated workers to make better use of the resource. However, that same technology does not lessen, however, the importance of timber in today’s world — or the industry in today’s economy.
For all that has changed, for all that the industry no longer looks like it did 10 years, 50 years or 100 years ago, there is much that is the same. Today’s loggers still rise early, slip quietly from their homes and head off to work. They take pride in what they do — and area timber companies and loggers will proudly tell you that they plant more trees than they harvest. As a farmer of sorts, loggers take pride in growing what’s needed for their neighbors — whether it is timber for homes, newsprint for your morning newspaper or anyone of countless products used by each and everyone of us.
Every member of the timber industry — whether they work in the woods, in a mill or a store that sells log furniture are committed to both their jobs and the environment. They know to have jobs, they must safeguard the forests.
Besides, they feel an obligation to their children and grandchildren to nourish the forests and pass it on in as good or better condition. In fact, with today’s managed forests, it’s hard to tell where the trees of 100 years ago end and today’s trees begin.
It’s all too easy to forget how important the timber industry is — or the ways it impacts our lives. Forest Product Week also gives us a moment to reflect on the myriad of timber-related products in our lives — from the latest best-selling novel to syrup for a hearty stack of pancakes.
It is our heritage. It is our present. It is our future.