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A truck hauls logs from a work site for a logging project by The Nature Conservancy Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021 near Cle Elum, Wash.

In the late 1980s, my livelihood was forever changed after the spotted owl protection controversy. I was a logger by trade with ambitions of owning my own logging business. This issue put me out of business and in a very hard situation. I had no assistance, and I had to learn a new trade, support a family and move forward.

I believe in forest management and logging. I do not believe in sudden change and devastation to communities. I am displeased knowing that over the years since the spotted owl, the logging industry has suffered and much of the industry is gone. In addition to the infrastructure, the people and the skill are also gone, forced to move on in search of another livelihood. The forest fires are undoubtedly devastating, and they hurt people and animals and, ironically, the very things our government aims to protect.

In my day there were controlled burns and loggers put out unplanned forest fires. I personally had to do this while logging and we were successful in controlling a number of fires. We were protecting a resource. We did not look at it as a means of income, it meant only loss of resources if uncontrolled. Loggers are skilled and know the woods and know how to work in them and were well suited to handle the job in both skill and equipment.

What is happening now some 30-40 years later is the effects of reckless, misguided policy with lack of foresight. We all know the spotted owl controversy raised timber prices and shut down logging on public lands and later some private land. We also know family and friends and communities forever hurt by this misguided policy.

Ironically, our government can find the taxpayer dollars after the fact to pay millions fighting forest fires; however, it cannot find a way to manage the forests and put people to work to help minimize fire.

I understand many businesses and volunteers and government employees depend on forest fires for a living; however, it comes at a great expense to our air quality and overall quality of life and the life of our natural resources and wildlife. In comparison, the logging and sawmill workers also depended on the natural resources.

Who is more entitled to it, if anyone? I see it more as an impact on society and the positive good is contributed more from logging than unplanned and uncontrolled forest fires.

It is unfortunate that government leadership did not have the foresight to support existing sawmill infrastructure before it was in some cases completely gone. That is the wasteful nature of human beings in positions of power who are not fully qualified to make decisions for the people or become influenced by special interests. People who have no idea how to build that kind of infrastructure and what it takes to support it.

I am sharing my opinion based upon my life experiences. I was born and raised in the state of Georgia, where my father owned a sawmill and sawed timber for private landowners and sold the various sawed items to customers.

I came to Washington state in 1962 for the abundant work opportunities.

I worked on the John Day Dam on the Columbia River, then went to the woods working on the Yakama reservation for various loggers and ultimately made my home near Harrah. I started my own business in 1984 and sold it in 2009.

Presently I still work at 78 years old and I will continue to work as long as I can. I find great peace of mind in keeping active and working.

I am a proud American and I am grateful for and value freedom and independence. I am dismayed at the turn of events I have witnessed in my life and my hope is people will read this and think differently and be moved to look critically at policy and those representing them in government.

Americans need thoughtful leadership with foresight and we need real opportunity for the people in the form of industry that provides income for families for generations.

Vaughn C. Lovell of Harrah worked in the timber industry for a number of years.