Opinion by Mike Shannon
It is said that we should learn from our mistakes and I would like you to “revisit” the very mistake made by our government agencies 25 years ago, that has our county still “reeling” from, even to this very day.
Before towns were formed, in the whole of Siskiyou County, there was logging. Timber alone provided for sustainable employment for well over 100 years.
Even up through the 1970s it created a diversity of jobs, a healthy tax base and provided unlimited amounts of money through timber tax, for our schools and related programs.
The demise of the timber industry started in the late 1970s and logging came to a halt by 1984. If most of you remember, it was because of the “spotted owl.”
The “theory” presented by the state and federal wildlife biologists was that logging “disrupted the cycle of life for this bird.” Coupled with “so called” environmentalist that came from outside our local area carrying signs, hugging trees and blocked logging roads, thus destroying our way of life.
These actions were then re-enforced by the USFS who then curtailed logging sales and timber harvest plans, which was the last nail in our coffin.
Think of how many hundreds of lumber mills in the Pacific Northwest had to shut down — from the Canadian border to northern
How many thousands of our men and women lost their jobs and then their homes? How many millions of dollars were lost in timber
Was anyone from the state, federal agencies, or the USFS held accountable for their actions for such a “blunder” of gigantic proportions in shutting down logging?
After all the damage was done by these government agencies, it must be noted — that the reason for the population decline of the spotted owl was because of more aggressive owls moving in, such as the barn owl — not because of logging.
Then to complicate our dilemma, in 1984 due to the job losses in logging, the Clinton administration en-acted the timber initiative, Option 9 funding for the displaced timber worker.
This was turned over to the USFS (the biggest squanderers of tax payer money) to disperse for retraining of unemployed timber workers or timber related jobs.
It is a fact, out of the 27.5 million dollars of Option 9 funding handed out — not one penny went to help a timber worker or timber related job. You can check with Congressman Wally Herger if you do not believe it.
With the down turn in the nation’s economy, many in our area are losing their jobs and are falling on hard times. It is said that Siskiyou County is the “first” to feel the effects and the “last” to recover.
We are fortunate to live in an area bountiful in renewable resources such as timber and water. I feel it is time that the silent “majority” finally stand up and be counted, to encourage job development, put an end to decisions based on “assumptions” by educated “idiots” and get our people back to work.
Michael Shannon