Disaster Preparedness Month.

By now we’ve all about had it up to here with the nanny-state government telling us what to do. The last I heard, this was still a free country where we have the right to pursue happiness, whatever that means. For me, it means doing whatever the heck I want to preserve my precious freedom.

Then, I heard that September was declared to be “National Disaster Preparedness” month. Now, there’s a government program I could really get behind.

Into each life, a little rain must fall. That’s where disaster preparedness comes in. It can be something simple like checking the batteries in your smoke detector or getting one of those disaster preparedness kits they’re always harping about. You know, the kits with food, blankets, water, flashlights and a radio and stuff. Or you can take on a more substantial project to get ready. This month, in honor of Disaster Preparedness month, I rearranged my sock drawer.

There are, however, other steps we can take to prepare for the disasters that seem to be headed our way more frequently with each passing year.

• Stay calm. Don’t panic. Experts are always telling us to stay calm and not to panic when we are facing everything from murder hornets to the Internal Revenue Service. This is probably because they’ve never been faced with these threats. It’s easy for experts not to panic, but it’s bad advice. I say panic early and often. It’s never too early to panic. Practice panicking now before the disaster hits, so you get it out of your system when the real trouble hits the fan. Maybe you’ll panic enough to get a generator. Don’t forget the fuel.

• Migrate. Millions of birds are beginning their migration down our Pacific Coast from the Arctic tundra to the tropics. Get a clue. If these dumb animals have sense enough to figure out that moving to a more civilized climate is a good idea in the winter, what is your problem? One of the best ways to avoid a disaster here is to leave home and head south. Problem solved.

• Bulk up. Here is another tip we can take from our animal friends. Many of whom are incapable of migrating south. Bears, for example, spend the summer and autumn putting on fat to adapt to the colder winter weather. In addition to the survival benefits of having an increased blubber content, the larger you are, the more likely you will be seen by would-be rescuers when disaster strikes.

• Grow your hair longer. In addition to blubber, many creatures grow a thicker coat of fur in the winter. Longer hair will not only keep you warmer, it will save you money on haircuts.

• Hibernate. Once again, we can take a hint from our animal friends. I’m not saying that everyone can attain a state of true hibernation like our iconic Olympic marmots or members of Congress, but you don’t know until you try.

• Super-size fast food orders. This is a no-brainer. We’ve all seen demonstrations of fast-food morsels locked in glass cases for years with no apparent deterioration. Our modern-day chemicals and food preservatives are not only good, they’re good for you.

• Contact your neighbors. A good neighbor will loan you stuff. Find out what to borrow from your neighbors now, before disaster strikes. By then, it will probably be too late.

These are just a few of the many things you can do for disaster preparedness month besides panicking and rearranging your sock drawer. We’ll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now.

Fall Chores.

Autumn must be my favorite time of year. When the Olympic Mountains stand so stark and tall in the smoke-free air, they almost seem like they are about to fall over, but they don’t.

Although there’s no time to stand around and admire the view when you have chores to do.

Autumn is the time of harvest. You can’t eat the view, so you’d better get to work.

The fact is, there are not enough hours in the day to get all of the chores done because the days are getting shorter.

Experts tell us not to get stressed out or bogged down by the details of life on the farm.

We should prioritize, delegate and move on to the next chore with the rhythm of the season.

Whatever that means.

I think it means now that the vines have died down, it’s time to dig the potatoes.

There are few things I enjoy more than digging potatoes.

To thrust the shovel into the mellow loam, exposing colorful tubers of varied hues of red, white, blue and yellow. Digging potatoes is a treasure hunt.

I was really looking forward to it.

Until I remembered loaning the shovel to a worthless clam digger.

It was a rare antique that was in really good shape. All of my tools are.

That’s another secret to life on the farm. Don’t use your tool and it won’t wear out.

I could never find a shovel that would fit my hand anyway.

It was time to prioritize, delegate and move on.

It’s time to pick a winter’s supply of apples.

An old apple farmer told me that once the coyotes started eating the apples, they were ready to pick. Lately there’s been a coyote party in the orchard every night.

People often wonder how the coyotes pick apples. They don’t.

The coyotes get the apples laying on the ground that the bear knocked out of the tree.

It turns out the bears figured out the apples were ripe before I did.

They must have camped out in the trees for a few nights and ate themselves sick, if the mess around the trees was any indication.

People said I should shoot the bear and tan the hide. Like I need another chore.

I tried to tan a hide once, using the old Indian cure that involved a greasy mixture of brains to do the trick.

It turns out that tanning a hide and writing a newspaper column have a lot in common. I ran out of brains before it was half done.

Besides, the bears have obviously read the hunting laws.

That’s why they never emerge from the blackberry tangles until at least a minute and a half after legal shooting light.

It was just another case of “if you snooze, you lose.”

All that was left of the apples was a few half-eaten ones that neither the bears nor the coyotes wanted.

It was a tragic end to another struggle to survive in the wilderness.

What could I do but prioritize, delegate and move on?

Autumn is also a good time to stock up on firewood.

Stacking firewood is another one of my favorite chores. But you have to cut and split the firewood before you can stack it.

That’s why it was too bad that I could not get the chainsaw started.

I was burning daylight. It was time to prioritize, delegate and move on.

That’s life in the wilderness.

We work through the rhythm of the seasons until salmon season starts — when, if any chore isn’t done by then, it won’t get done.

Labor Day Appreciation

Dealing with the crush of vacationing hordes that invaded the Olympic Peninsula this summer has stressed the tourist infrastructure to the breaking point. The problem is, many of our tourists have unrealistic expectations about their vacations. As a general rule, we like to advise tourists that the sooner they realize that their expectations are unrealistic, the better.

For example, every tourist wants to see a bear. And who doesn’t?

Unless you saw a bear like I did this summer. It was as big as a cow and cut right in front of me out on U.S. Highway 101 without even signaling. It could have been a disaster! Bears have no insurance. Bears, like most of our other wild animals, are irresponsible and unreliable. I can’t tell you how many times we have floated by Elk Creek without seeing an elk. That’s just wrong.

We have petitioned the Geographic Board of Names to rename it No-Elk Creek, but we haven’t heard anything back from them yet.

There could be many reasons for this record number of tourists. People were tired of being cooped up due to COVID. The Canadians wouldn’t let us in their country. And who could blame them? We wouldn’t let them into our country. Americans were trapped here so they decided to hit the road in everything from rental cars to the largest recreational vehicles on Earth.

There are only so many campsites and parking spots, and once these were taken, the tourists fanned out through the hinterland, blocking logging roads and boat launches with their fire rings and questionable bathroom habits.

Floating tourists down a river in a raft gives one a bird’s-eye lowdown on the tourist problem. I hear the horror stories. Like waiting for an hour for a hamburger only to wait for another hour to complain that you ordered it with no cheese. Or waiting hours to get into Olympic National Park only to have the park shut down because of a “law enforcement situation.” All the while trying to find the dump station for their RV before there’s an accident. That’s what it’s all about — creating family vacation memories that will last a lifetime.

Then there is the supply chain fiasco that has interrupted the flow of vital supplies needed for the production of apple fritters in Forks.

The only thing we can count on is the Hoh River, which will flow until the glaciers melt. While it lasts, the Hoh remains the last best river in America. Floating people down it is a rare privilege.

The most notable rafters this summer have been health care workers. They come to the Olympic Peninsula from all of our nation’s COVID hot spots to unwind and try to forget the horror of their working lives.

On the river, they often relax and tell stories of working 24-hour shifts while dealing with dying people they cannot help. They talk of arguing with people who insist they don’t have COVID while they are being intubated. They tell about the patients’ isolation from their families with no chance to say goodbye. They talk of being isolated from their own families and loved ones in an effort to keep them from getting sick. They feel victimized by people blaming them for the pandemic and guilty for feeling like they could do more to stop it. They spill their guts until they cry and so do I.

I can think of no better time than Labor Day to appreciate the selfless actions of these brave people. All of which makes me wish they could see a bear. It’s the least we could do.

Rough Bar Conditions.

IT WAS DAYLIGHT on the water. A heaving deck and the smell of saltwater told me I’d awakened to a real-life nightmare.

In the murk of dawn, I could see heavy surf pounding against sheer cliffs that rose into the fog.

The morning tide was taking us out into the Pacific past the ramparts of A-Ka-Lat, the Quileute fortress at the mouth of the river that bears their name.

It was aptly described by Capt. John Meares in 1788.

He said, “The appearance of the land was wild in the extreme.” Nothing much has changed.

A-Ka-Lat was also a burial ground for chiefs and a lookout for spotting whales and enemy raiders.

That’s how the Quileute saw the Russian brig Sv. Nikolai in 1808. She’d lost her anchors and sails in a November gale and crashed ashore. The 20 survivors of the shipwreck headed south for the Columbia River, where they hoped to find a ship. Instead, they were captured by the Hoh Indians.

Of the original crew of 20 — which included Capt. Nikolai Bulygin’s wife, Anna Petrovna, the first European woman to live in the state of Washington — seven died in captivity, including Petrovna.

The remaining 13 Russians and Aleuts were rescued in 1810 by Capt. J. Brown of the Boston brig Lydia. If it wasn’t for the sharp eyes of the Quileute, we might all be speaking Russian by now.

It wasn’t long before we were over the bar of the Quileute River and out into the towering waves of the open sea.

When the Coast Guard says “rough bar conditions,” they aren’t referring to the nightlife. They don’t call it the Graveyard of the Pacific for nothing.

It was just my luck to get shanghaied out into the middle of it.

Getting shanghaied was an Olympic Peninsula tradition from Grays Harbor to Port Townsend.

With the crew jumping ship to go live with the Indians every time they got near land, what was a sea captain to do but hire on the latest crop of farm boys, loggers or stray fishermen who came to town most any weekend for a spree?

There, a stiff drink and a quick trip through a trap door was your invitation to a new career at sea.

It could take years to get back home, if you ever did.

Once upon a time, a captain tried to capture a whole village.

A Quileute tradition described a large sailing vessel anchoring in the mouth of the river. The captain was attempting to entice visiting tribal members aboard the ship to capture and enslave them. An Aleut woman who was a survivor of the Sv. Nicholai happened to be aboard. She warned the Quileute in their language to get away while they could. The Quileute fled to their fortress atop A-Ka-Lat.

I thought that sort of thing had died out years ago. Then I met some shady characters at a boat ramp. They must have slipped something into my cocoa while I was rearranging my tackle box. The next thing I knew, I was headed out to sea.

Soon, we were working the gear, catching salmon as fast as we could reel them in. Until I had my limit and was just getting in the way.

Entering the cabin, I encountered something more terrifying than the Quileute bar, the captain’s dog, a hundred-pound man-hating female Rottweiler who was growling in close proximity to the swimsuit area.

I kept saying, “Good girl.”

She must have known I was lying.

Then I gave her a doughnut and made a friend. It was good to be alive.

Understanding Our Fishing Laws.

It was another tough week in the news.

The good news is the 2021 Washington State Sport Fishing rules came out. The bad news is the 2021 Washington State Sport Fishing rules came out.

To understand the significance of this annual event, you’d have to believe in Santa Claus.

He knows if you’ve been naughty or nice. You wait, not knowing where you stand, until your sock gets filled with coal or presents.

Some years, that first reading of the fishing laws is like opening Christmas presents. This year, reading the fishing laws is like finding a lump of coal in your Christmas sock.

I have spent years studying our fishing regulations in an attempt to translate them into English.

This is not as easy as it seems. At first, I thought I was just too stupid to figure out our fishing laws. It was then I discovered that most other people couldn’t figure out the fishing laws either. For example, what is a “single barbless hook?”

It was then I suspected the fishing laws were made to be as incoherent as possible for a reason.

The WDFW, which loosely translated means, “We Destroy Fishing in Washington,” is a massive bureaucracy with an enormous budget to match.

By making the fishing laws, also known as the “Fish Cop Employment Security Act,” as complicated as possible, the state was able to develop a lucrative revenue stream that had the game wardens writing so many tickets they got the dreaded tunnel carpel syndrome.

To understand how important it is to obey our fishing laws, it might be helpful to understand how they are made in the first place.

The process begins shortly after Groundhog Day, when the biologists emerge from their burrows beneath a bunker in the basement of the state capitol building.

Here, these dedicated professionals have spent months making fishing laws by spinning a roulette wheel affectionately named “The Best Available Science.”

Each spin of the wheel hires another biologist, creates a new fishing law or shuts down a fish hatchery somewhere.

The biologists then take the raw data to a magic place called the “North of Falcon Meeting,” where the imaginary paper salmon runs are divided between competing groups of commercial, sport and Native American fishers who can only agree on one thing, banning the other guy’s gear.

These are secret meetings, so we are not really sure what they do, but we’re pretty sure we won’t like it.

Shortly after the North of Falcon meetings, it’s April Fool’s Day, time to buy your new Washington State fishing license.

The fishing laws don’t come out until July. I couldn’t find a copy until August, Friday the 13th.

Coincidence? I think not.

Reading this year’s 148-page edition of our fishing laws, one soon realizes the evil genius of the writers.

Just when you think you are a law-abiding ethical angler, they change the law.

The goal of this current philosophy of fisheries management seeks to preserve and protect the resiliency of our iconic salmon and steelhead resources with a series of new laws that anglers will have a doozy of a time trying to figure out.

Biologists have somehow determined that fish hooks are a major cause of fish mortality. At first, they said you could use a single barbless hook to fish. That was wrong.

This year you can only use a single-pointed barbless hook. We can only hope that the best available science doesn’t outlaw fish hooks altogether, but you never know.

Is forbidding fishing with fish hooks foreseeable in our future? We’ll have to read the fishing laws.

Let it Rain.

“Does it always rain like this?” my fancy friend asked recently while huddling under a refreshing morning shower that hit so hard the raindrops seemed to bounce off the surface of the river.

I reassured the soggy tourist that, of course, it didn’t always rain like this. Sometimes, it rains a whole lot harder.

People caught in the rain sometimes have a hard time appreciating the beauty of precipitation.

Without rain, there would be no rainforest. We would eventually burn it down.

Someone tried to burn down the rainforest last week. That is, we can assume a human started the 70-some-acre fire on the south side of the Hoh River that fire crews and helicopters put out.

Humans seem to be the leading cause of wildfires, next to lightning, and we don’t get much lightning in this country.

Nothing will make you appreciate the rain more than not having any.

No one seems to remember the last few summers when the smoke was so thick it seemed like the end of the world, or we were living in California.

Rain is much preferable to the alternative, smoke. With an abundant rainfall, forest fires are much less likely to start and blaze out of control.

Make no mistake, despite the campfire ban, which was declared after the unprecedented heat wave we experienced in June, when the temperature went up to 113 degrees in the Hoh Rainforest, people persist in building fires.

Watching tourists stand around a campfire in 100-and-something-degree heat in a crackling dry forest is a wonder of nature thing. It makes you wonder about the place of people in nature.

A central theme of the campfire experience seems to be the construction of the campfire ring.

These miniature monuments to functional fixedness are found scattered everywhere these days. Along roads, in roads, parking lots and boat ramps — in fact, everywhere you want to be.

One campfire ring seems to spawn others, since no one seems to want to use a used campfire ring. Removing campfire rings has become a full-time job the locals are getting tired of.

The only weapon we have against the current tourist invasion seems to be an abundant supply of rain.

Unfortunately, we just can’t get enough rain. Record numbers of tourists have been crowding the Olympic Peninsula for months now, causing people to wait for hours to get into Olympic National Park.

Tourists waiting to view this World Heritage Site and United Nations Biosphere Reserve typically sit in their cars with the engine running and the air conditioning going, while their children melt into their screens playing video games as they inch their way closer to the fee station in a failed attempt to capture a moment of solitude in a crowded wilderness.

Once past the fee station, the tourists drive like the chase scenes in action-adventure movies with screeching turns around blind corners. Typically, these gangs of tourists drive inches away from the rear bumper of the car in front of them, in a conga-line of cars each itching to pass the other to get behind a different car.

That’s how a bear cub was run over on the Upper Hoh Road last week.

Every tourist on the Peninsula seems to want to see a bear, but no one wants to see one bad enough to run them over. We hope. Observing a bear in the wild is not so cool once it has been run over.

Rain is our only defense against the tourist invasion. We need rain and we need it now.

Who Owns the River: An Apology.

It was wrong to say in a recent column that bureaucrats, biologists and the bull trout owned the Hoh River.

In my own defense, there’s no way you can be an unbiased witness to a crime scene when you are too emotionally involved with the victim of the crime.

Make no mistake, the Hoh River is a victim of the gross mismanagement that can only be described as a crime against nature.

With the elimination of the salmon runs, we have stopped the massive exchange of energy from the ocean to the mountains and back that the salmon represent.

Salmon die after they spawn.

Their carcasses once littered the forest floor, nurturing everything from the tiniest bug to the largest trees in a cycle of renewal that operated since the ice age. We killed it.

The simple fact is, I am too emotionally involved with the Hoh River. Having fished this river since the 1960s and watched it be killed with a torturous death of a thousand cuts, it’s enough to make an old man cry.

Seeing the destruction of the things we love can make us unable to place the events in their historical perspective.

People who were outraged by the slaughter of the estimated 60 million bison that once roamed our great plains simply could not understand how our nation’s industrial revolution required bison hides for conveyor belts lubricated with whale oil.

They could not possibly accept that then, as now, extinction is good for business.

For example, recently Seattle celebrated the arrival of the first Copper River salmon of the season. Flown down from Alaska, they sold for $75 dollars a pound!

Even more amazing is the fact that people lined up to buy these rare salmon.

Would that Alaskan salmon be so expensive if the Puget Sound salmon hadn’t been managed into threatened/endangered species status? No.

When salmon were plentiful here, they were called the poor man’s tuna.

It took this rush to extinction to make salmon worth what it is today.

The fact is, our salmon have become much too valuable to be used as food for the common people.

Our threatened/endangered salmon are now used to fuel a vast salmon restoration industry that has spent an estimated $2 billion on salmon restoration projects with no corresponding increase in the salmon populations.

Instead, we see increasing numbers of threatened/endangered salmon and a decrease in opportunities for people to catch salmon for their own food.

It’s not just the bureaucrats, biologists and the bull trout that own the Hoh River, I forgot to include the so-called “environmental” attorneys and the myriad profit-driven “nonprofit” corporations.

They are the ones constantly blocking proven fish restoration methods that have restored salmon, even in places where they did not previously exist like Chile, New Zealand and Michigan.

For example, we cannot place remote hatch boxes full of fertilized salmon eggs in barren streams with no salmon.

This was previously done by Missy Barlow, a Hoh River resident who built these egg hatch boxes with a 4-H group to restore salmon and steelhead populations on streams all along the lower Hoh River.

We cannot use the native fish of our streams as brood stock to rebuild the runs of salmon and steelhead before they disappear completely.

The fact is, salmon are worth too much to be used to feed humans any more.

Salmon, or the idea of salmon, is now used to feed a vast salmon restoration industry whose gratuitous research, make-work projects and bloated budgets profit from the engineered extinction of salmon.

It’s the end of the last frontier.

_________

Who Owns the River, Biologists, Bureaucrats and Bull Trout.

In our history of the Hoh River, we’ve watched the transfer of ownership from the Native Americans, to warring European nations and eventually to the United States, whose state and federal bureaucracies, biologists and bull trout have managed the legendary fisheries of this last best river in America into a threatened and/or endangered species status.

In the beginning, the Hoh River was famous for legendary runs of salmon and steelhead.

There were three distinct runs of Chinook salmon in the spring, summer and fall.

Of these, only the fall run has survived in any significant numbers.

There were summer and fall coho, summer and winter steelhead and sea-run cutthroat and Dolly Varden/bull trout.

Of all of these species, only the threatened and/or endangered bull trout continues to thrive.

On any given day, the bull trout is the most prolific fish in the Hoh River, causing fishers to ask, “If the bull trout is endangered or threatened, how come that’s all we catch?”

The threatened/endangered bull trout is neither threatened nor endangered nor a trout.

It is a char, a voracious predator that feeds on the spawn and juvenile salmon and steelhead.

Despite the fact that the abundance of bull trout endangers the remaining fish populations, it is a tool used by the so-called salmon restoration industry to open the floodgates of endangered-species funding to the tune of millions of dollars.

For example, when Canyon Creek, a tributary of the Hoh River, was found to contain bull trout, the Federal Highway Administration decided to build a new bridge on the Upper Hoh Road to make it easier for the bull trout to swim under it.

An associated multi-million-dollar project will build 25 log jams to protect the Upper Hoh Road. Another 29 log jams will be built to mitigate the damage to fish from these log jams and to channel the river, with a goal of slowing it down and stopping it from wandering across the valley as it has for the last 14,000 years.

This will require 2,500 logs from 30 acres of clear-cut.

Not to mention the tons of concrete to make the newfangled log jams.

The Hoh River has so many log jams in it now, we can barely make it down the river. In fact, the last two fatalities on the Hoh were in log jams.

They are going to build more. All in a vain attempt to domesticate a wild river.

Then there is the proposed “conifer release.”

Because the alder, willow, maple and cottonwood growing along the river are the wrong species, they intend to replace them with fir, cedar and pine trees because the biologists think these species will grow large enough to stop the river.

Although in the history of this land of big trees, there has never been one big enough to withstand the Hoh River.

The Hoh River now belongs to the salmon restoration industry. This is an alternative universe filled with confusing acronyms and weaponized semantics designed to defuse, deflect and deny any criticism of the master plan.

Throughout history, the Hoh River has been a source of high-quality protein for people to feed their families.

The Hoh’s been transformed through the best-available science into a dying thing where bureaucrats, biologists, consultants and nonprofits circle overhead like vultures over a dying ecosystem, padding their resumes to inflate their budgets with a modern version of the medieval divine right of kings.

Salmon restoration can never be questioned or held accountable for their destructive practices that are destroying the resource they are paid to protect.

They own the Hoh River.

Who Owns the River, Continued: I’m From a Non-Profit and I’m Here to Help.

In previous episodes, we traced the transfer of ownership of the Hoh River from the Native Americans, who were the original inhabitants, to various warring European countries and ultimately to the United States.

Once the U.S. gained title to the land through a series of genocidal treaties with the Native Americans, ownership of the land was transferred to individual European homesteaders.

The ensuing corruption of the Homestead Act, where timber companies had their employees sell their land to their employers, who then logged the land and let it go back to the counties for back taxes, ended homesteading and gave the remaining unsettled land to the Olympic Forest Reserve.

With the construction of the Olympic Loop Highway, a road that would become known as Highway 101, a new owner of the Hoh River appeared, the Department of Transportation. The highway was built along the river to keep construction costs down, which made the road vulnerable to flooding.

Large rocks were placed along the road to armor the banks to keep the road from being washed out. As time passed, another new owner of the Hoh River appeared, the biologist. Despite the fact that the Hoh and all our Olympic Peninsula rivers are lined with rocks from their source to their mouth, the biologists determined rocks in the river were bad for the fish.

If this were true, there would be no fish in our rivers.

The biologists somehow theorized that building engineered log jams in the river to protect the road would somehow restore the dwindling runs of salmon and steelhead in the Hoh River.

In 2007, $8 million was spent building engineered logjams using steel I-beams pounded into the bottom of the river in a failed attempt to change the course of the Hoh.

Hoh River log jams are deadly. The last two fatalities in the Hoh River have occurred in log jams. Numerous boats, canoes and kayaks are constantly being wrecked in log jams. Putting log jams in our rivers endangers human lives.

Meanwhile, another owner of the Hoh River appeared, the non-profit corporation.

The Hoh River Trust was formed in 2001 to restore the rainforest ecosystem and maintain public access to the Hoh River. It did this by getting government grants to buy land along the river.

At the time, the Hoh River was considered the last best salmon and steelhead river in the continental United States with the most rainfall, the biggest trees and a natural heritage that goes back to the time when the Thunderbird was said to live in the glaciers of Mt. Olympus.

When the Hoh River Trust showed up, nobody trusted them. The Hoh River Trust worked hard to develop trust with the locals and I, like an idiot, helped them. I supported the Hoh River Trust because they said they’d preserve public access.

Eventually, the mismanagement of the Hoh River Trust lands made them decide to get rid of the 7,000 acres they had acquired. Suggestions that the HRT return the land to the original owners, the Hoh Tribe, were ignored. Instead, the land was given to the Nature Conservancy.

Then, the Federal Highway Administration showed up on the Upper Hoh River, intent on building more log jams. This time, instead of pounding steel I-beams into the river, a practice which kills fish by rupturing their air bladders, it was decided to crush them with log jams made of 16,000-pound chunks of concrete instead.

All in a vain attempt to slow or “buffer” the Hoh River and contain it into one single, permanent, channel.

Who Owns the River continued: The Logging Capitol of the World.

The Native Americans were the first to log the Olympic Peninsula. They cut the Western Red Cedar. Every part of the cedar tree, from its roots to the branches, was used by Native Americans before the days of European contact.

The aromatic wood was split into boards for cedar plank houses. Cedar logs were carved into canoes. Cedar bark was used for clothing. Cedar roots were weaved into baskets. Cedar limbs were dried and twisted into rope. Cedar buds, bark and roots were used as medicines and in ceremonial rituals.

When the first European homesteaders settled here, they used split cedar to build their houses and barns. If cedar was not available, the Sitka spruce could be used.

With the outbreak of WWI, spruce was in demand for use in airplane construction. The Hoh River pioneers split cants from spruce logs and floated them down to the mouth of the river, where the courageous Captain Hanks sailed them through the surf to a mill in Aberdeen — until he mentioned patching his ship with linoleum and was never heard from again.

By the 1920s, a process was discovered to make pulp out of hemlock, previously considered a weed tree. At about the same time, a glue was invented that perfected the manufacture of plywood. With the coming of WWII, logging increased to meet the higher demand for timber. Diesel replaced steam power. The chainsaw replaced the crosscut saw or “misery whip.”

In the 1950s, the state Department of Natural Resources began selling 40-acre timber sales on the Peninsula. The Columbus Day storm of 1962 created a huge supply of downed timber that overwhelmed domestic sawmills.

Coincidentally, the Japanese post-war economy had rebounded to the point where they were buying and exporting raw logs from the West Coast of the United States.

The 1960s were a time of the biggest timber sales of up to 25 million board feet. Japanese log buyers were competing with one another for some of the most beautiful, tight grained, knot-free wood in the world.

By the 1970s, Forks became the self-proclaimed, “Logging Capital of the World.”

As the old-growth rainforest of hemlock, cedar and spruce was cut, it was replaced by the Douglas fir. These fir trees grew fast, up to four feet taller, adding inches in diameter every year.

Unfortunately, many of these fir trees could not adapt to their new home in the rainforest. They grew crooked trunks with three or four tops, spike knots and other defects that made inferior lumber.

At the time, the red alder was considered a weed. In an effort to eliminate the alder and anything else that would compete with the Douglas fir, the herbicide 2-4-D was sprayed from helicopters all across the Olympic Peninsula.

These days, alder is used for furniture, making it more valuable than fir.

Ironically, a June 10, 2021, PDN article reported that state Commissioner of Lands Hilary Franz was hiring a director to find alder logs to keep hardwood mills operating.

By the 1980s, the Japanese recession had cooled the log market.

Environmental restrictions designed to protect the spotted owl, marbled murrelet and bull trout stopped the harvest of old-growth timber.

Logging communities all across the Pacific Northwest were devastated. Loggers had to either move away or reinvent themselves as prison guards or anything else that would pay the bills.

Multi-national timber companies began looking for ways to divest themselves from environmentally sensitive areas they couldn’t log — paving the way for yet another change in the ownership of the Hoh River.

Next week, “I’m from a non-profit corporation. I’m here to help.”