Reimagining the value and values of timber
By Carl Segerstrom
Don Andre hacks at an overgrown trail with a machete on a 17-acre community-owned forest, within earshot of Highway 20 a couple miles east of Newport. The machete, which his father found at a yard sale years ago, curves forward at the tip, which helps power the overhead volleys he directs at the branches.
Andre spent much of his youth exploring forests like this one outside his family’s home in Agate Beach north of Newport. The giant old trees of the coastal rainforest provided an endless playground where he was free to tramp around until his mom called him back home by laying on the horn of the family’s Chevy truck.
After leaving the sleepy Oregon Coast to travel and pursue higher education, in the mid-’70s Andre came home to a shock: The forest of his youth, where his imagination and young legs once ran wild, was no more. The clearcut land so dismayed and infuriated Andre that, to this day, he’d rather not visit.
While Andre still feels the pain of losing his childhood stomping grounds, he says he tries to focus on positive change rather than his grievances with the timber industry.
The organization he helped found, the Oregon Coast Community Forest Association (OCCFA), is part of a growing movement to reimagine the relationship between timber communities and the forests that surround their homes. Across the state, Oregonians are working to develop forest management techniques and economic models that preserve forests for multiple uses.