Forests in My Life
I grew up in the forest. I come from a small town in southern Oregon called Cave Junction, it is most famous for being the gateway to the Oregon Caves. Forest are important to my life because they directly provide the lifeblood for my hometown. Starting in the early 1850s, gold mining was the main source of income in the Illinois Valley. As gold mining dwindled in the 1860s and 1870s, the economy diversified into ranching, fishing, logging, tourism and agriculture. In the years after World War II, timber became an increasingly large part of the county's finances. There were 30 lumber mills operating in the valley after the war, but by the late 1980s the number had dwindled to just one. That one Mill (Rough & Ready Lumber Co., located six miles south of town.) closed one year ago, but now Rough & Ready Lumber is reopening in Cave Junction with a $5 million government funding deal.
It is sad for me to see the dying of my hometown. The population in Cave Junction is dwindling, people are moving elsewhere because of the lack of jobs. High unemployment raises the stakes here. So does a storied timber history and a heavy reliance on dwindling logging revenues from federal forests to fund county government. Three Oregon Congressmen want to more than double logging in the region's O&C Lands, forests shifted to the feds after an early 20th Century railroad deal went sour.
The reason I am getting a degree in forest management…