Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Oregon in the late 1800’s had one major impediment to logging—lack of transportation.  That was removed by the railroad, and loggers spread out into the limitless forest of oldgrowth douglas fir.  Humans increased and the big old trees decreased, replaced by fast-growing young trees that are still being harvested in limited numbers.

Now the predator is returned.  Not lack of physical transportation, but government regulations prevent logging.  I think of it like Yellowstone National Park, where in 1926 wolves were removed.  Elk increased and willow, which elk eat, decreased.  Now wolves have been brought back, elk decrease, willows increase, and other species come back that were driven off by lack of willow.  

Here in the Oregon woods, one species in particular tries to increase with the removal of wolves (loggers).  Tourists come here to enjoy the quietness and strenuous exercise available in forests so different from their native high-rise wilderness.  They like it natural, free from big clanking logging machines.  The new regulations provide nicely for their needs, and towns like Oakridge poise with amenities the travelers want.  Such has been the talk around here for the past twenty years—talk that has brought little fulfillment.

The same governments that stopped logging and encouraged Oakridge to develop tourism have made tourism nearly impossible.  Parking is not allowed in the national forest, which owns all the forest except for a few spots of private land.  They say that permits for parking can be purchased, but only during certain hours at locations far from the places where parking is desired.  Three kinds of permits are available depending on where you want to park and they are not all sold at the same place.  I have found a few ways into the national forest by parking on private land and walking or skiing to a few places.  Most of the national forest is unavailable.  The US Forest Service has, in addition, locked gates on most of the old logging roads to prevent entry, and in many places, has shoved piles of dirt to prevent entry, or scarified the roads to make them impassable.

The talk in every café, bar, and store is of deception and over-regulation by state and federal government.  For example, residents can no longer heat their houses with wood, and visitors cannot burn wood, even though dead wood is plentiful.  Only on days when permission is granted in the previous day’s newspaper, is wood burning allowed because of supposed air pollution.  So residents who traditionally burned wood as their only heat, now have to install electric or gas heaters.  And visitors who enjoy the ambiance of a wood fire must do without.

I could cite more examples, but am getting tired of so much anger and frustration.  Tomorrow I will get back to nature.  I keep learning ways to sneak around the officials that protect us.  Sorry to have bothered you.


  1. Sorry it is so frustrating there, I don't understand why all the roads are being blocked and everything so difficult. What is the purpose for all that attempt to regulate? Safety? Lack of organization? Economic issues? I sure know it is different in many other countries we visit. Instead of regulating, there is a lot of neglect and disrepair, problems in every direction. We (personally) try to make our corner of the world as hospitable and helpful as we can, friendly and free... but the larger context everywhere is complicated and can be very frustrating. I guess you see that everywhere too.

  2. Well, the iceman no longer comes to our door. Nor does the paperboy or the milkman. Things change. If some people are conservative by nature, they will resist change.

    Hopefully the trees will continue to grow. Hopefully people will as well.

  3. Kathabela and Steven, I don’t have answers on why these regulations are. Change happens. To resist is often futile and wrong. To fight the parking regulations is futile, but not wrong, says I. So I listen to the locals and learn ways to sneak into the national forest, but cannot reveal my methods or sources. It’s something a short-time visitor cannot do.