Fort Bragg will miss GP because their money is good. If you know the timber industry history of landowners not getting paid for logs; millworkers, loggers, or truckers not being paid for work, then you know how important it is having somebody around who pays and pays on time. That check that comes from corporate USA is the linchpin of any producer based community.
GP's sin, if you want to call it that, was a lack of commitment to forestry. A failure to embrace the long term reality of growing trees — the same sin committed by their environmentalist foes. The notion that trees are a “renewable resource” is the flip side of the same coin as the notion that forests are a precious “natural” resource that must be “protected” from the hand of man. Of course the reality is trees are not a resource but a crop that must be nurtured. And the stately forests the environmentalists worship in are not a creation of “nature” but a creation of the hand of man that over time must be maintained by the hand of man as well.
It is not only the same sin committed by the Environmentalist public, but also most all other forest landowners big and small including the Johnson family who owned Union Lumber Company, and Boise-Cascade who bought Union Lumber and who sold to GP, and LP which emerged from a court-ordered GP split. Not everybody is cut out to be in the cognac business. The notion of an investment horizon of a minimum of 30 years doesn't sit well with most everybody. It's an investment made in faith. Forest economists can display all the charts and graphs they want but the bottom line is forestry investments are risky and are not based on anything concrete. Just the faith that timber will have value in the future. Was GP's “sin” really so bad?
With the largest softwood forest “resource” in the world being made available in Siberia, and with places like New Zealand, Chile, and Europe churning out tremendous volumes of plantation grown timber, there is an international glut of softwood timber that will be with us into the foreseeable future. Of course there is Canada's timber wealth, and our own US Forest Service inventory that will be made available again when we get over our environmentalist constipations.
Today the future of Mendocino County's timber industry is not threatened by a lack of high quality old growth but a glut of low cost, small timber coming from places that are insulated from the costly nebulous nonsense of environmentalist regulations. And redwood is being replaced with low cost plastic substitutes with names like TREX. Redwood, even the high quality stuff, is having trouble moving. Steel framing is also becoming ever more affordable and preferred instead of wood.
But the timber industry has themes that have run throughout it's history and one of those themes is that there is no future. It is the mentality of a miner. It is the mentality of most of us who just can't deal with the time involved.
Look at a redwood tree reaching its prime today. It started just before the 1929 crash. It lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the Cold War, the Baby Boom, etc. How many times in that tree’s history did the owners of that tree say there was no future and sold that tree or gave that tree away?
In California even the timber growers with the cognac business mindset are starting to wonder. Environmentalist regulations have even people from Simpson Timber, Soper Wheeler, and Barnum Timber wondering if there is a future for timber in California. California and America will survive environmentalism's earth worshipping. We have to. We place the highest value on human life, not the lives of birds, rodents, or reptiles. We can not go into the future with a de facto policy that our energy, raw materials, and food will all be imported. And ultimately science wins over BS. That redwood tree that is starting to grow today will live through many changes as did the ones being cut today.
In the next 70 years we will see oil as an energy source and as a raw material being replaced with other things. What other things? I don't know. And who does? But wood fiber looms in the wings. TREX? If you have any 70 years from now you had better hang on to it as a collectors item. Steel? When the cost of energy goes up, so does the cost of steel. GP, LP, and Masonite will be long gone, having made the fatal mistake of trying to be in the timber industry with no timber of their own. Mendocino County (and Humboldt County as well) have the best softwood timber growing sites in the world. That fact is not going to go away. Too many parks? My guess is we will be logging in parks 70 years from now. It makes no sense not to. For timber growers with a cognac business mindset, things should look good for the future of the timber industry in Mendocino County.