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Sierra Club in 'Architecture Week': High Tension Over Big Timber

High Tension over Big Timber, by Christine MacDonald

Late in 2007, storm-driven rains in southwestern Washington sent floodwater, mud, and tons of logging debris crashing into homes and farmland downstream of the Chehalis River. Numerous landslides destroyed wide swaths of mountain habitat, caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, and downed an estimated 140,000 truckloads of timber — much of it on land owned by the Weyerhaeuser Company, the state's largest private timberland owner.

In the storm's aftermath, the state senate summoned timber industry executives to Seattle and grilled them about their logging practices. And when election season arrived in fall 2008, Doug Sutherland, the state commissioner of public lands, a Republican with campaign finance ties to logging companies, was swept from office. He was replaced by Democrat Peter Goldmark, who railed against Weyerhaeuser for clear-cutting that many believe had exacerbated — if not caused — the disaster.

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