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Weyerhaeuser wrong to forces hikers, hunters to pay for access

I’ve given this some time as to not say anything regrettable, but I do want to initiate some conversation on the issue. Weyerhaeuser recently announced its closure of public access without permit to its lands for any reason, be it hunting or recreation. They are privately held lands. If I had someone dumping on my land, I would lock it up as well I suppose. With that being said, I must say this as well. I think it’s a low blow. It’s a low blow to the communities that helped to make Weyco what it is today. Most everyone around here either worked for Weyco or knows someone who has. Many around here have had generations of family work in the woods or mills. I know this is a dumb question, given the fact that I live in Montesano, but, does anyone remember the spotted owl ordeal? Does anyone remember the “this business or this family supported by timber dollars” signs in almost every window in town or staked into every front yard? I do.

Anyone remember pictures in the paper of the streets in Hoquiam being flooded with loggers in support of the industry? This community stood up in solidarity for the industry that included Weyco. To me, it feels as if Weyco has shut the door in their faces. Weyco was born and raised right alongside this community and that is why I’m so torn on this issue. It feels like a family dispute. I still know several people who are Weyco employees and shareholders.

I have countless memories that were made out there. I hoped to have countless more but if that’s to be the case, it will cost me $250 bucks a year and take place one and a half hours after sunrise or before dark. There are times that I simply need to get off of the pavement and away from buildings for an afternoon to “reboot.” Perhaps, I want to head over the hill to Brooklyn. Well, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t — not even with my new permit. Access to these areas are specific. My permit will only grant me access to one area, not all of Grays Harbor or anything else and with only one portal of access. I have to go in and out of the same gate. No more cutting over the hill.

Weyco started here around 1900. They had and have a saw mill in Longview originally built in 1929. They bought out Schafer Bros. in Aberdeen, if anyone remembers that name anymore. They built their entire company with their tact, intelligence and the hard work of our communities. I think many fail to realize that a company like this is built in partnership with those who put on a suit and those who put on caulk boots, one who carries a brief case and one who packs a saw. It’s the nature of a logging company to be built on the backs of the community in which it operates. The days of the logging camps are long gone. Members of many small towns that likely wouldn’t exist if it weren’t a launching point for logging activities, live in the heart of the area they log.

I have always been pro Weyco. I have always defended their business practices. I believe it not only the right of a company to maximize profit, but a responsibility to its shareholders. When they ceased operations of the saw mill and log yard in Aberdeen, I defended it. I was a part of the demolition of the old small saw mill and, while standing there, although it didn’t look at all historical due to many years of retrofit and progress, I could feel the history. It was sad, yet I defended it. Their recent restrictiions, however, simply can’t be defended. This is the end of an era. This is not good for the community. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that after many of these logging and mill jobs left, employment and income have “slightly” tapered. Hunting has done nothing but get more costly over the years and, from what I read in a post by a friend, he contacted Sen. Jim Hargrove’s office. They said there was nothing they could do due to it being private land. When he asked about lost revenue from hunting licenses, they said they only expect to see a 10 percent reduction and they will get more funds from a rainy day fund and other sources. So, not only is hunting more costly, but now you need a $250 permit. Oh, and you can’t go with your dad or your friend unless they also have the permit. How’s that for destroying a long standing tradition?

I simply can’t support this. I hope they follow in the footsteps of Port Blakely and notice what a trouncing on community this is. Thoughts?

Daryl Blumberg is a hunter and recreational advocate who lives in Montesano. Feel free to email your thoughts on this topic for publication to editor@thevidette.com