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Views of the Forest: How the Newcomers Saw It
Image of a vast forest.Early non-native observers of the Washington Territory considered its vast forests of fir, spruce, and cedar to be an inexhaustible source of timber. In 1857, James Swan, a settler and journal keeper, tells about a report by Territorial Governor Stevens, who in January 1954 wrote "Washington Territory...is heavily timbered, and time and labor are required for clearing its forests and opening the earth to the production of its fruits"
(p. 398). Photo: Courtesy of Steven K. Croft

This romantic notion of unending supply was still evident two decades later. In 1876 one David Newsome, writing in the West Shore, described the "endless sources of wealth" of the Pacific Northwest. And, in 1880 the same journal commented that "the forests of Washington and Oregon are practically unlimited and inexhaustible" (Robbins, 1997, p. 323). "Granted with permission from The Rain Forests of Home, P.K. Schoonmaker, B. von Hagen, and E.C. Wolf, Ecotrust, 1997. Published by Island Press, Washington DC and Covelo, CA. For more information, contact Island Press directly at 1-800-828-1302, info@islandpress.org (E-mail), or www.islandpress.org (Website)."

To this day, the idea persists among members of the timber trade that Northwest forests can supply our country with lumber forever. Conservation groups, on the other hand, fear that we may lose our forests entirely if we follow this line of thinking. These fundamental and opposing views drive debate between the two groups.

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