Home > Life, Today's Questions > Makes You Wonder, Doesn’t It?

Makes You Wonder, Doesn’t It?

Yesterday we were driving downtown and a semi happened to pull up beside us. Not an odd occurrence, that’s for sure. What was odd was the cargo on the flatbed trailer. The truck was out of British Columbia and was loaded with prime Canadian lumber headed to Idaho.

Pause with me now to think about that statement. Here I am, living in one of the biggest timber areas of the Pac Northwest. A truck loaded with finished lumber—not timber—is coming down from Canada and through our fair city on its way to another timber-rich state in the region.

My question, as we remarked on it at the time, was “Where will that lumber be used? Is it going for the building of some custom home up in the mountains, or what?

It’s not like we don’t have entire mountainsides covered in managed forests cluttering the landscape all around us. Why would anyone order imported BC lumber for a building job here?

The regional understanding seems just as peculiar. I’ll give you the local take on the situation, not just for Montana but it’s likely for Idaho and Washington, as well. It is currently more lucrative for timber mills to ship our forests abroad—mainly to Asia—than it is to use it here. Pulp mills line some areas of the rivers and Washington coastline to turn all that lovely pine, fir, and larch into sawdust and chips.

It seems that particle board, chipboard, and OSB (oriented strand board) brings more on the open, overseas market than straight lumber. I’m not going to go into the air and water pollution nightmare that accompanies the pulp mills. That issue is addressed by agencies with far more clout than little ol’ me.

If this economic reality is correct—and I can only vouch for what I’ve heard from those who’ve lived in the area for decades—I ask myself why do we bother to concern ourselves about anything environmental anymore.

Soon I’ll get down into the raw numbers concerning imports vs. exports of lumber and other wood products just to see how lopsided the issue really is. To hear some talk about it, we’re in a large hole that’s expanding by the day. I have to satisfy myself  as to how big that hole really is.

I wrote a few days ago about money, class systems, and our present American craziness. It seems to me that this might just be one more indicator of the problem. We continue to sell off our country to foreign markets until there’s nothing left but what we can bring in from somewhere else.

Where is that sign “Made In America” when it comes to something as simple as lumber?

I know that the issue doesn’t rock the world or make headlines anywhere. I’m just curious. How long will it take for us to sell out the whole store under that big “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS” sign?

Got an opinion? It can’t be any wackier than mine. Drop in a comment and tell me how you feel about so simple a question.

A bientot,




  1. May 30, 2011 at 4:19 am

    excellent articles, useful for me. keep writing and happy blogging.

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