Pacific Northwest Forest Industry essay

William Dietrich / environment / Pacific Northwest / forest / salmon

Essay Topic:

The contemporary vital problems of exhausting the resources of the Pacific Northwest Enviroment.

Essay Questions:

What problems are analyzed by William Dietrich’s book “The Final Forest: The Battle for the Last Great Trees of the Pacific Northwest”?

What are the environmental, forestry, sociology and political science issues of the Pacific Northwest?

Why are the Pacific Northwest forests and salmon suffering form the human factor?

Thesis Statement:

Both of the sides: people and nature are examined and sympathized but implies that if people do not find a compromise the Pacific Northwest Enviroment will be gradually completely exhausted.


Pacific Northwest Forest Industry essay


Table of contents:

• Introduction.

• Tradition and Enviroment.

• Forest and salmon.

• Conclusion.

“…The Final Forest eloquently captures the essence of the

cultural clash that is so deeply rooted in timber issues"

David Thorud

1. Introduction

William Dietrich’s book “The Final Forest: The Battle for the Last Great Trees of the Pacific Northwest” has highly influenced the mind of people who have read it. It is enough to say that it is used even as a high school and undergraduate textbook, which teaches the young population of the country to be aware of the environment. It particularly concerns the territory of the Pacific Northwest and its environmental, forestry, sociology and political science issues. The book was recognized by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and received its award along with the Washington Governor Writer’s award. The book reveals the situation that the Pacific Northwest has found it self in, when all the natural resources that are so actively exploited by people and bring them good are in actual danger. The Seattle Times journalist William Dietrich made an outstanding job in analyzing this controversial problem and people’s opinion regarding it. The future of the forests is in danger, which means that in the long run humanity is in danger, too. The old-growth forests are mercilessly cut and go as an excellent quality timber. William Dietrich synthesizes the opinions of different people such as loggers, scientists, and environmentalists who are related to issues like forest cutting and disappearance of salmon and make the reader decide what his own opinion will be. Both of the sides: people and nature are examined and sympathized but implies that if people do not find a compromise the Pacific Northwest environment will be gradually completely exhausted.

2. Tradition and environment

The importance of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem according to William Dietrich has been reduced which literally lead to the crisis of the ecosystem. The threat of disappearance of separate elements of the ecosystem is shown as the result the “deforestation”. Nowadays, tradition logging is suffering as the result “not only of deforestation but of automation, globalization and new scientific information about ecosystem importance”. Traditionally, people used to do their jobs, cut forests, fish for salmon without even and sincerely thought that the reserve of these “natural gifts” is inexhaustible. Thousand of people worked their whole lives providing salmon and timber for the state in particular and the country in general. The author of the “Final Forest” leads the reader to a logging community on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “The self-proclaimed “Logging Capital of the World”, Forks is… just a plain little timber community with about 3,000 people… and a chewed up forest where conifers grow back like weeds”[26]. People living there deeply suffer the fight that has been unfolded around the ancient Northwest trees. These trees mean a lot to the people living in Forks. It is their bread, their job that they have been doing for a very long time. If they drop cutting the trees they will have nothing else to do and this will kill their little town and these people. The author shows both the meaning of the forest to people as a source of “their bread” and views the Pacific Northwest forest as the last nation’s great forest, which should be preserved.

3. Forest and salmon

Life in Forks for loggers starts at 6 a.m., when they are already gathered and ready to work. These people are surrounded by slogans that only outline the importance of what they are doing: "This community supports timber, timber supports this community"[26]. People seem exhausted and tired of the fights around the forests, which environmentalists are carrying out. For these people forest is a “gift of nature” which they use and get paid, owing to which their children are raised and educated. For these people the fight around the forests is senseless and groundless. “It is as if there isn't already a huge damn Olympic National Park a few ridges away, locking up whole valleys of trees forever. It is as if out here, in this worked-over country, there is really that much to fight over”-they think [28]. The irony of these people is not just because they think it is senseless it is just they think it is too late to start this fight now, after so many years of forest-cutting and profit gaining from it. Environmentalists believe that it is still not too late to save what is still there: the owls disappearing, the amount of valuable trees reducing, water being polluted, etc. Here we have two points of view and both of them are worth of respect. On one side William Dietrich puts the population of Forks who spend their whole lived working and logging and now, when it is too late form their opinion, are accused of the destruction of flora of the state. On the other side the author shows us the possibility to save the “scanty leftovers” of what used to be one of the most beautiful natural gifts to Americans. Both of the point may be understood, but still the author worries about the sea bird, the marbled murrelet, which “took scientists years to actually find a nest in the big old trees”, about the pileated woodpecker the bird who eats the insects that do harm to the ancient trees and many other species.

The Pacific Northwest forest is the home of species that will die in case of its forest becoming depleted. Environmentalists say that logging even worsens the fish habitat. For people living in Forks, all these facts seem to be out of time and undermining their stability. Some people try to sell their saw shops and to get something decent for it. “Under the main counter are posters that read, “Endangered Species,” picturing a trio of loggers, one of them a child” – this only proves how insecure these people feel. In this way “Final Forest” brings the reader to the

”dead end” of the problem and by sympathizing with both sides shows that it is very hard to “convict” any of the sides in particular as both of the opinions are motivated enough. The Olympic Peninsula population experiences very mixed up feelings to the fight around their work. “First the experts wanted logs hauled out of streams to clean them up. Now they want them left in, even put in, if you can believe that, to improve fish habitat” – says Bleck, who helps administer timber sales in the Forks area [30]. Salmon is left without rivers and what always has been the symbol of the Pacific Northwest is also in danger now.

4. Conclusion

Different people responded differently to the environmental crisis in the Pacific Northwest. Both of the “camps” love forests around them and no one can accuse the other side of being indifferent. Both, environmentalists and loggers need to understand the reasons of their conduct. People need to be more open-minded in order to understand different point of views of the matter. This book is not just about showing how bad it to cut trees and therefore to destroy the natural resources of the Pacific Northwest, but it is also about the life of people logging the trees and simply doing their jobs, earning money for their families and not understand what is the reason to stop now after so many years of tree logging.

It is completely understandable why the responses to the issue are so radically different. But the main thing the William Dietrich point out is that these opinions are not good, or bad, they are just different from each other. And each of them has the right to exist and to be heard: either with logger-families or the environmentalists.

”What about my family, what about our home?

Wildlife and timber, it's the only life I've known.

I'm just one man, living off the land.

It's more than what I do.

It's who I am”

It is not indifference it is just another life-style and another love for the forests of the Pacific Northwest.


Dietrich, William. The Final Forest: The Battle for the Last Great Trees of the Pacific Northwest. New York: Penguin, 1992.


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