Every major conservation group in our country – including
the venerable Nature Conservancy - has endorsed the urgent need for the federal
government to launch a large-scale, long-term thinning and prescribed fire
program in the west’s national forests.
It’s a sunny late August morning here in the pastoral
countryside about 15 miles northeast of Sedro Woolley, Washington. Save for the
four feet of rain that fall here annually, this would be a great place
to live. But here in the Land of Eternal Wet Feet, about an hour south of the
Canadian border, it rains every 2 to 3 days. Too much for us.
Low elevation soil west of the Washington Cascades is deep,
rich and very moist – spongy under foot in heavily shaded areas. Small wonder that
ramrod straight Douglas-fir often grows five to six feet a year in western
Washington – or that privately-owned forestlands here have been harvested three
and four times since Frederick Weyerhaeuser and his partners bought 900,000
acres of virgin timber from railroad magnate, James J. Hill, in 1900 for $5.4
million. This is the timber industry’s Mecca.
We left home on Wednesday, drove as far as Cle Elum,
Washington, overnighted in a beautiful RV park on…