There's no need to reinvent the wheel


January 11, 2024

To The Eagle:

PUD General Manager Dan Kay’s salary is now $15,756 per month. For many, that’s a yearly, not monthly, income.

Meanwhile, 10.6% of the population of Wahkiakum County live below the poverty line. In Pacific county the poverty rate is 13.6% with the median household income at $58,889 per year.

Pacific County Commissioner Lisa Olsen said “we are natural resource counties,” and therein lies the problem. “Community forests” have been supplanted by a pulp tree monoculture unsuitable for wildlife. Marine harvests of fish and other sea life are getting regressively smaller, as are the creatures being harvested.

Farming? Mobile homes sprout like mushrooms alongside broken backed barns, rotting, abandoned homeplaces and fields being reclaimed by nature, their repair and re-use beyond the incomes, skills and hopes of their inheritors.

Wahkiakum County Commissioner Dan Cothren states “My goal is to keep these lands in timber. I don’t want to see this place turned into real estate. That’s not what we’re about here.”

Who are the “we”? The well or self-employed, or the retired few, enjoying rural prosperity and peace while many low wage earners continue to slide ever closer to that poverty line? Exclusionary tribalism and fossilizing this community in amber will not build a tax base that can afford to rebuild our schools.

Logging roads on barren clearcut hillsides could someday lead to low density hamlets nestled in reclaimed woodlands, housing a workforce of families attracted to the area by affordable housing and a variety of small, low impact tech or light industrial sites accessed by dedicated public EV transport.

There’s no need to reinvent that wheel either. The Long-Bell Lumber Company, under the leadership of Robert A. Long, conceived and built the "planned city" of Longview. We need a 21st century version of carefully planned small town expansion. That requires proponents who look forward instead of backwards.

Planned growth; turning clearcuts into real estate, building affordable housing, and attracting light industry with its attendant jobs and prosperity, is a better plan than putting the future on hold and just holding on to what little we have.

JB Bouchard

Puget Island


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