Since 1975, TimberWest Magazine has been covering the West Coast timber industry one company at a time. It's easy sometimes to focus on the larger issues concerning the forestry industry, but day-to-day, it's forestry companies that are the lifeblood of the business.
In recent months, TimberWest has profiled several Washington companies: Barnes and Sons Logging in Lewis County, Swanson Bark and Wood Products in Longview, Precision Forestry in Arlington-Darrington and Cascade H & A in Snohomish County.
Reading their stories, it's clear that the industry is about hard work, commitment, camaraderie, innovation and teamwork with other forestry companies.
In May 2013, it seemed like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) was the great hope for federal timber reform. He had just taken over as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, putting him in prime position to finally get the Northwest timber harvest kickstarted after decades of meager activity.
Wyden's proposal, finally announced in November 2013, only covered Oregon timber counties in the former Oregon & California (O&C) Railroad Co. lands. Timber owners in Washington and other timber states would have to wait.
Meanwhile, Oregon timber companies and rural counties actually preferred another bill that would have increased the Oregon harvest. That bill, from Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore, was folded into a plan from Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., that would increase the timber harvest around the country. Hastings' bill was actually passed by the House but at last check, it's stalled in the Senate.
That left Wyden's proposal, coupled with Wyden's prime leadership position, as a possible way forward. Timber companies and rural counties opposed his bill, but it seemed like it could be a starting-off point for negotiations, with perhaps some elements of DeFazio or Hastings' bills added on to reach a compromise that both timber leaders and environmental groups could at least stomach, if not support.
Now that kind of compromise feels more distant.