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Why We Grow Trees

 in this Economy
j.a. kendrick 
Lately, many people have asked us if it is difficult to see our investments in timber land lose so much value as timber prices fall like a rock. Others ask us why we bother growing trees at all since their value has plummeted to levels that make it an unfeasible economic endeavor.  It has set us to wondering about just how we do feel about it and indeed, why we continue to grow our trees and manage our forestland.

In dollar value, our trees are worth the current market price, cut and loaded onto trucks headed for the mill to be made into lumber, or only a few dollars in carbon credits if they remain standing in the forest. As I sit here sipping my coffee watching the fir spires pierce the early morning skyline and listening to the many bird species creating their waking cacophony at the different levels of the forest canopy, I realize why we grow trees... because we enjoy doing it and feel a responsibility to do it.  

Most of the mountainsides for miles around us have been logged at least once-most of them twice, as mills retooled creating markets for ever smaller diameter timber, in the years that we have been working in our forestland.  Some neighbors cashed in when timber prices were at their highest value, stripping out anything that was merchantable, and laughing as they ran to the bank with their fists full of dollars.  They jeered at us for not taking advantage of such an opportunity, but most of them sold their property shortly thereafter because they didn’t want to live with the aftermath.  The land isn’t worth much devoid of trees and they didn’t have the patience or desire to wait fifty years for the trees to grow back.   Generally, so many conifers were removed from the surrounding forests that what grew back was not a forest, but a mixed oak/madrone woodland. The entire character of these cutover lands has changed to a harsher, drier, hotter environment.  
Our forest is still a forest. A living breathing entity that provides sustenance and homes for wildlife, cools the earth below the tall trees and pumps oxygen into the air.  In terms of dollars and cents it is not worth many millions and the return on our years of work and money invested into it has been comparatively minimal.  We have taken out some timber as we worked to improve the health of our forest and made bits and pieces of income from it over the years. Nothing major, just enough to make us feel as though we were actually getting some return on the investment.  But our forest is more mature and more diverse than it was before we began managing it for ecosystem benefits. There are values that cannot be tabulated in monetary terms and we value our land in a different way. Money has never been the overriding concern for us.  We enjoy the isolation and the peace and quiet afforded by living here.  We thrive on hard work and responsibility.   

Would we do it again if we knew what the balance sheet would look like at this late stage of our lives?  Probably.   I think that it is something that we had to do. It is our gift to this planet Earth.  A quarter of a century of time and nurturing- not much in the scheme of things I suppose, but a lifetime of two people willing to give more than they take.  I can live with that. 

Please comment on this article:

Comment from af:
This does not make any sense. I do not believe a word of it. Corporate fascists do not believe in conservation or anything else except money. This is propaganda pure and simple.

Reply from jak:
Some people will never believe. They have closed minds. The proof of our truth is visible in our website and in our forest.  We have been here a long time and will be here long after protesters have given up the "cause" and gone back home.  There are many ways to an end. Ours has taken a lifetime.  

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Kendrick Forest   
Wilderville, Oregon