Felling the giants

Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Not so long ago, I earned my living as a big time timber cutter throughout Southeast Alaska's island-studded Tongass National Forest. We were paid by the 1,000 board feet or as it's known in the industry, by the "bushel." I worked hard and made nothing but money and muscle for myself. Each day I would walk alone into that temperate coastal rainforest, rich with its carpet of mosses, ferns, lichens and skunk cabbage leaves big enough for a full grown logger to hide behind.

Today, I can close my eyes and still see those massive Sitka spruce, western hemlock, western red and Alaskan yellow cedar trees towering overhead, without even a single limb for 100 feet up, forming a giant cathedral-like protective ceiling, shielding all below from the wind, snow, rain and sun. Then, I'd cut those 300-year-old giants down.

Eventually, I recognized the greedy selfishness of my chosen employment. Heck, even my children would never get to experience the magic of these places if I kept this up. Today, I guide people throughout that same forest and get to watch their childlike smiles appear, upon discovering such a wild wonderland. Today, I make more than just money and muscle. I get to make friends, too. Alaskans, let's protect what little is left of our temperate coastal rainforests. Let's stop the assaults on our precious wild back yards. Not only will our children and friends appreciate this, it also makes economic sense. Alaskans, wake up and evolve before it's too late.

Capt. Dean Rand

Discovery Voyages

Prince William Sound

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