Blog

Aug 29 2011

Healthy Forests, Handsome Homes

By KC

From The Oregonian, August 29, 2011
Blog post by Chris Wille, aka EcoBeavers

Here's a link to the original post.

The long debate over how to manage our forests has often been divisive, but amid the discord there are some dazzling displays of collaboration. It's indeed possible for timber cutters, conservationists and businesspeople to all paddle in the same direction. A local, nonprofit organization called Sustainable Northwest brings these diverse forces together in a program called Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities Partnership.

Sustainable Northwest is led by the charismatic and clear-thinking Martin Goebel, who published a proposal in the Oregonian last week aiming to recast the entire argument over how to save salmon. The iconic fish, properly managed and productive forests and thriving rural communities are all linked, Goebel wrote, and profit incentives will work better than regulations in unlocking creative solutions and a lasting determination to work together.

Much of the wood in our Beavercreek eco-home/office - still under construction - comes from Healthy Forests managed by Healthy Communities through Sustainable Northwest Wood, Inc. in Portland. SNW is perhaps the only lumber yard in the country that deals exclusively in wood from forests certified as responsibly managed. Buying wood through SNW is like ordering seafood from so many responsible Portland restaurants – you know it's sustainably harvested or it wouldn't be on the menu.

With the guidance of SNW manager Ryan Temple, we chose bigleaf maple for two floors. This spectacular, warmly pale hardwood grows in combination with Douglas fir and is still quite common. Our floors came from local, sustainably managed forests.

Our window trim is Doug fir from Hyla Woods, located about an hour west of Portland. This family-owned business manages three forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.   The goal and mantra of Hyla Woods is "to grow ecologically complex, economically viable, responsibly operated forests." The model forests host students and researchers. Every year, the foresters select a few trees for felling. The logs are milled in the forest and dried in a solar kiln.
Jim & Chip Aug2011.jpgView full sizeCM WilleMaster carpenter Jim Cochell at work, with enthusiastic encouragement from Chip the Dog.

We instantly had a soft spot for the operation as Hyla is the Latin name for a large and diverse genus of frogs – the gaudy green and red tree frog – also the logo of our organization, the Rainforest Alliance.

We're fortunate to be able to surround ourselves with fabulous woods harvested and milled by caring and skilled woodsmen and women. The sustainable wood market creates sustainable jobs and, yes, healthy communities.   As these partnerships grow and branch out, they are attracting high-level attention. Recently, President Obama's top environmental policy adviser visited a Healthy Forest collaboration in John Day, a timber-dependent town in south central Oregon sandwiched between two national forests.
Window frame.JPGView full sizeCM WilleForest Stewardship Council certified window trim and flooring.

According to Sustainable Northwest, which coordinated the visit, Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said, "As we look at models for conservation, the top-down models of the past don't necessarily meet the needs of today." Sustainable Northwest and collaborating logging communities get praise from the White House; we get beautiful wood in our house.