Timber has deep roots in Washington’s Lewis County

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An article this week in the Centralia Chronicle delves into the rich history of forestry in Lewis County, Wash., where timber has been a key driver of the economy for nearly 140 years.

Workers and equipment were brought in and logs and finished lumber were shipped downriver to Grays Harbor and by rail to the east. The introduction in the 1880s of the geared locomotive for steep grades and the donkey engine to move logs meant that previously inaccessible stands of immense trees fell to the crosscut saw. Steam-powered mills featured circular saws, gang edgers, and power log turners and drivers. Lumbering became big business.

Forestry is still a big part of the Western Washington county’s economy, supporting 6,000 jobs a year and helping produce the forest products we use every day, like paper, wood, building materials, packaging and even Christmas trees.

Work in the woods in Lewis County, like all Washington counties, is sustainable – with active reseeding of working forests and production of wood products that are biodegradable.

During planting season three seedlings are planted on average for every tree harvested for wood, paper or other forest products. This ensures that the evergreen forest will continue to provide jobs and economic benefits in Lewis County for generations to come. Forestry products continue to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

…Products made in Lewis County from sustainable, working forests are used across the world. Timber products such as packaging materials, lumber and paper underpin the modern economy. These products produced through sustainable processes are renewable and biodegradable.

The impact of forestry jobs in Lewis County is undeniable.

Directly or indirectly, forest products have created nearly 6,000 jobs in Lewis County that paid more than $303 million in 2016. Those jobs paid $17 million in taxes directly back into the local economy.

…Since there are approximately 44,000 working age adults in Lewis County, that means more than one in seven working-age people have a job thanks to forestry. Modern sustainable forestry is a huge win-win on both the environmental front and employment rates.