Why you should care
Because no one hears it when a logging industry falls.
Photographers Andrew Cullen and Theo Stroomer explore the economic and cultural legacy of southwest Oregon’s declining forestry industry.
The U.S. government saw the forest for the trees back in 1916 and reconveyed lands once given to the Oregon and California Railroad, later declaring that the forests be “sustainably managed” indefinitely. For nearly 80 years, the government has shared profits from its timber sales with the 18 affected Oregon counties, offsetting the loss of property taxes and timber proceeds. But the shared revenues have fallen, alongside timber production.
Since the logging wars of the 1990s, forestry production on federal lands in O&C counties has declined drastically. Social services, ranging from police departments to libraries, have been slashed, poverty and unemployment remain high, and voting initiatives to raise revenue through local taxes have mostly failed. Today, hippies, environmentalists, marijuana growers and loggers are uneasy neighbors in these parts, and many hope the logging industry can make a comeback … to help get them out of the woods.