Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
Teresa Catlin of Priest River, Idaho, is involved in a community forestry project called Forest Community Connection. She is an ecologist for the Colville National Forest in eastern Washington. She also operates a forest consulting company in Idaho called Total Land Management.
Teresa Catlin: "All kinds of people are coming together in this community forestry project, and we're discovering that we pretty much want the same things. We want to take good care of the land, and we want to keep what's special for our kids. There's a lot of change going on in these old timber towns. We have some differences in how we think we should get where we want to go, but a lot of folks seem ready to stop the rock-throwing and pitch in together to protect what's good and improve on what needs work.
"A couple of the big timber mills have left the area, but we still have a diverse industrial base. Our goal is to encourage good forest stewardship, partly by not being just a resource colony anymore - we want to help local businesses develop more value-added products. Much of the timber coming out of the woods is smaller these days, and we need to be innovative in how we use it.
"We don't need a revolution. We just need to shift our practices a little. We need to be aware of our impacts on the soil. The tree species composition is out of whack, and we've got some genetic problems from taking the best and leaving the rest. But this land is pretty forgiving. We still have a lot of options.
"I'm involved in this project because this is what our community needs. I don't want this to be a playground of the rich where the working man - and woman! - is getting pushed out."
Copyright © 2000 HCN and Steve Thompson