Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Penalty for logging 700 year old cedars less than 10 years

A sad story from the Seattle PI: Penalty for logging 700 year old cedars less than 10 years: "The crime seems so audacious: chopping down 27 old growth cedars on public land. The trees measured up to five feet in diameter. They were between 400-700 years old." The trees in question were an isolated stand in eastern Washington along Lake Wentachee.

Isolated now--the first white settlers to the Northwest found infinite forests of such behemoths, and bigger. I am reminded of a delightful passage in Alexander Ross' Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon Or Columbia River: "There is an art in felling a tree as well as in planting one but unfortunately none of us had learned that art and hours together would be spent in conjectures and discussions one calling out that it would fall here another there in short there were as many opinions as there were individuals about it and at last when all hands were assembled to witness the fall how often were we disappointed the tree would still stand erect bidding defiance to our efforts while every now and then some of the most impatient or fool hardy would venture to jump on the scaffold and give a blow or two more Much time was often spent in this desultory manner before the mighty tree gave way but it seldom came to the ground."

Like so much else in the west it the arrival of the railroad that turned the trees from nuisance into resource. The groves of giant cedar became shingles. I am sitting beneath some of those shingles right now, nailed to the roof of my Missouri house a hundred years ago. The cedar shingles have been covered with multiple layers of asphalt, but whenever I climb into the attic on a hot day I can still smell the ghosts of ancient trees long since gone.

(I need to make a post on logging in the northwest! The photograph of western red cedars on this page is one of the breath taking images at Leland Howard Fine Art Nature Images.)

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