We live in an incredible place; Tillamook County is cherished by outdoor enthusiasts for its natural beauty and range of recreational activities. Our rural community thrives off farming, forest products, recreation, and tourism. Without proper balance though, our community and the economic stability we have found would be crushed.
The family I come from -- and the family I’m building now -- have lived in this community our entire lives. My name is Morgan. I am a 25-year-old woman, whose entire career has been built around the local forest sector. Since as early as 12, I helped with my family’s logging business on the weekends and after school. Later on, I worked at the Oregon Department of Forestry, eventually joining Hampton Lumber’s Tillamook sawmill in 2016.
I quickly began working my way through different departments, spending time as a heavy equipment operator in the log yard before becoming the Swing Shift Planer Supervisor, the position I currently hold.
My livelihood is linked to local forests, so it is easy to understand why I would want to keep them healthy and productive long-term. Whether directly or indirectly, this sector impacts the wellbeing of our community. I am incredibly proud of it. I love where I come from and what I do for a living, which is why I joined many other industry members for Forest Sector Day at the Oregon State Capitol this spring. Our goal was to speak with our legislators about the importance of our industry; remind them that we are human, we have families to care for, and that we don’t do things carelessly, as many are led to believe.
Those new to our area might be surprised -- or even concerned, at first glance -- to see our forests at work. I would like them to know that our families depend on these forests and we, among all others, want to make sure future generations are also able to responsibly benefit from them. We’re committed to ensuring they continue to grow and provide a wide variety of benefits in the most sustainable manner possible -- economically, socially and environmentally.
Allow the facts to speak for themselves: forestry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the state with some of the most thorough, science-based environmental protections in the world. Oregon DEQ monitors major rivers and streams throughout the state and consistently finds that forestlands have the highest water quality in the state. Our forests provide some of the best water quality in the state while serving as the United States’ primary source of softwood lumber, generating much needed revenue for our schools, roads and other public services.
I fear, however, that as an industry our story is not being told and our impacts not accurately represented. I worry that our voices are being drowned out by those with very little understanding of working forests, the scientific standards and methods that guide their management, or the people who take pride in being part of one of Oregon’s oldest and most important renewable industries. I share this with you because I believe right now is a time that we, as an industry and a community, need to be more vocal and help raise awareness about all the ways working forests contribute to our overall quality of life and why they need to be sustained.
Swing Shift Planner Supervisor, Hampton Lumber