The Lumber Situation

Lumber Yard, City Point, Va - NARA - 525202
Lumber Yard, City Point, Va – NARA – 525202 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below is article from the The Hartford Courant on May 17, 1902 page 5. This article is over 100 years old; could the same situation happen again?

The Lumber Situation

With yards closed, builders supply soon exhausted

A.W. Scoville and His Puzzling situation – One Builder Repudiates Union Statement that He Has Yield.

It is prophesied by members of the Master Builders’ Association that the shortage of lumber is going to affect the contractors who have yielded to the union in the present carpenters’ strike by the first of the week, and this will tie up their work. The discussion of the lumber situation and the predicament of A. W. Scoville over the City Bank job furnished the principal topics of conversation yesterday and the real issues of the strike were lost sight of. While the members of the association disclaim all connection with the closing down of the lumber yards, they agree that the shutdown will work in their interest.

Stories of a shortage of lumber and of efforts to obtain it come from all over the city. There has been a second load obtained from East Hartford in an emergency case, after efforts were made to get it here. The purchasers were P. Berry & Sons, wholesales dealers in fruit and vegetables. They require a number of bundles of laths each week, in making their crates. They ran out after the shutdown of the yards. In an effort to get ten bundles they went to one of the closed yards and were refused but they were told that if a written order from the Carpenters’ Union was obtained they could have the laths. A representative of the firm went to the union’s headquarters and asked for the order. He was told that that was the first the union knew that it had power to grant orders on lumber dealers and it was explained that the union had nothing to do with the shutting down of the yards. The need of the laths was so urgent that a member of the union, who lives in East Hartford, volunteered to obtain them. The required ten bundles were purchased at the lumber yard there and sent to Hartford in an express wagon. At the local yards no effort is being made to sell lumber and none will be made until the present labor situation becomes clearer. The yard and offices are all but deserted.

The interesting situation is the position of Mr. Scoville and his bank work. It is imperative that it be completed soon and there is a large amount of work to be done. Of this there is little that need be done by carpenters but it is this small amount of work that is causing the trouble. The work must be done by union men before the Carpenters’ Union would call it “fair” work, and to get these union men without leaving the Master Builders’ Association is a puzzle which is hard to solve. There was a rumor last night that Mr. Scoville had found a way to solve the problem by getting the work done at night by men unknown to the union. The new quarters for the bank were lighted up all Wednesday night and men were working inside behind thick screens. When asked about this Mr. Scoville replied that he had nothing to say and that he had not been near the building all day yesterday. Members of the union said that they hardly thought the work was being done unless Mr. Scoville was trying to do it himself without assistance, and the building looked yesterday as if no carpenter had been at work.

At the union headquarters yesterday the names of W.L. Squires and Thomas Malcolm were posted on the blackboard as contractors who had agrees to the union’s terms of $3 a day. Mr. Malcolm sent word to “The Courant” last night that he had told the union not to place his name on the blackboard, as he had not agreed to the terms and would not. He had taken back three of his old men at the same wages they had received before the strike, but he would not agree to pay all men $3 a day. Mr. Malcolm is not a member of the Master Builders’ Association, although he took the same stand the association did in regard to the union’s demands.

F.C. Walz, business agent of the union, said last night: “We would like to call attention to the difference between our actions and those of the lumber dealers. We made our demands known to the master builders last fall and they had nearly a month after the final conference to put their business in shape before the strike came. The lumber dealers shut down without notice to large purchasers of lumber, all the notice that was given was through the papers twelve hours before the yards closed. In all fairness they should have given a week’s notice if the shutdown was not for the purpose of hampering the builders who are paying union wages and the lumber dealers deny that they had any such intention.”

Many members of the Master Builders’ Association took advantage of the labor situation yesterday and went to the seashore to remain over Sunday.

Clearcutting and Clearcut Tour

Below is a blog post and video from Chuck Ray  on the clearcutting method. He explains how important clearcutting is to the productivity of the forest.

Pennsylvania Clearcut Tour

Out on the road yesterday, stopped to eat my lunch on the side of the road, and decided to take a walk into an adjacent clearcut. As I rounded a turn just a couple of hundred feet from the road, I literally stumbled onto a pack (gaggle, herd, flock?) of turkeys who did their best to let me know I was not a welcome member of their club. So, I pulled out the smartphone, but of course, they got into the bush before I could figure out which button to push to get the video camera running.

Anyway, I kept the video running and shared some thoughts as I walked through the stand. I’ve always thought the most misunderstood concept of the environmental movement is that of clearcutting of a forest. I know it looks bad, and it intuitively feels like the wrong thing to do to cut down all the trees over a large area. But folks who own land and have had it clearcut, and foresters who spend a lot of time on the land, understand that the earth’s response to a clearcut is with a smorgasbord of rich, new diversity of life forms.
And scientifically, we know that the productivity of the forest, as measured by its growth and consumption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, is greatest per acre when the forest is in the first ten to twenty years after a large disturbance such as a clearcut. In fact, the flush of growth after a forest clearcut is much more dynamic and robust than other types of harvest that are usually considered better and more sustainable. That’s because after a clearcut, the entire forest floor is subject to the abundant energy of the sun, and each form of life that taps into it converts that energy into biomass or other forms of energy.

Sometimes, the blessings of natural processes are even greater than our attempts to manage nature properly. And in this case, the blessing is that the most economically beneficial form of forest harvesting is also the one that provides the greatest return in forest biodiversity and carbon recycling over the long run. Clearcutting is not the right prescription for all forest sites and landowner objectives, but when it is, we should acknowledge its benefits and not look down on the practice as “the wrong thing to do”, or something that is inherently unsustainable.

If you’re interested in harvesting guidelines followed by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry on public lands, they have an excellent informational webpage at http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/sfrmp/silviculture.htm

Clearcut SAF Position (click to Download)