Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Today at ANewsCafe: Reviving timber in Shasta County

R.V. Scheide writes at ANewsCafe:
The logging trucks are rolling through Whitmore again and it has nothing to do with President-elect Donald Trump. The bone-dry woods of eastern Shasta County have finally absorbed enough water from recent storms to permit timber harvesting after a Cal Fire-enforced hiatus last season. It’s good to see them, and even though they’ll be gone as soon as the limited cutting’s done, I like to imagine Trump is already making Shasta County great again.

Sure, it’s a fantasy, but is it all that far-fetched? Trump hasn’t even taken the oath of office and numerous American manufacturers have announced their intention to build new factories in the United States instead of Mexico or overseas, including Ford Motor Company. Automobile manufacturing is to the rust belt what the timber industry was to much of the American west, including Shasta County. If Trump can bring back Detroit, surely he can bring back Redding?

I haven’t personally lived long enough in Shasta County to judge whether it was great at some time in the distant past and is relatively not so great now. But for the purposes of this story, let’s presume that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the local timber industry was booming along with the state’s heavily subsidized post-WWII economy, Shasta County really was great, in terms of earning a decent wage and raising a family and all the good things associated with the American way of life.

Consider the now-abandoned Shasta Mill in Anderson, built in the early 1960s and shuttered in 2001. The pulp and paper mill was once the county’s largest employer, over time providing thousands of residents with well-paying, long-term jobs with benefits. A website dedicated to Shasta Mill created by former employees offers this illuminating glimpse of the local timber industry in the fabulous 1960s:

“How about the glow from those teepee burners at lumber mills dotted along old Highway 99 between Anderson and Redding? It was reported that when Shasta County implemented the local air quality control standards as a result of the federal Clean Air Act around 1971, that the local area had approximately twenty teepee burners operating at the time. Don’t forget that Cottonwood and CV had teepee burners at their moulding mill operations, too!”
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