It’s not entirely rare for me to get calls from reporters. It tends to happen locally when either our company or the collaborative that I’m a part of is in the news. I enjoy the opportunity to tell the story. If you’ve ever been quoted in the newspaper, you start to see very quickly that the news is often based on how the reporter either interprets what you said or how that reporter wanted to use what you said to support their slant on the story. After writing this blog, I have a new appreciation for creating content. It must be a difficult task to do every day with a deadline. There are times, once in a while, where you see a reporter that is either in a hurry or just has decided not to do their homework.
That happened to me the other day. I received a call from a reporter from a newspaper in Montana. I’ve done a considerable amount of work in Montana and know the state pretty well. The reporter said that he had been following a blog that has subsequently picked up some of my writings. Then he said something that caught my attention, but I didn’t immediately think much of it. He said he was doing a year-end article on forest products companies “down here” in Montana. I thought it was funny, as I live in Washington. Although where he was located in the state was geographically southeast of where I’m from it’s still not the way I’d expect to hear it described. He went on to say a few things about the forests and lumber trade. Then he said it.
He asked me, “Since you’re a Canadian I wanted to get your opinion on some of these issues.” I politely told him that I’m an American and have always lived in Washington State with the exception of a few months in 2000 when I lived in the Bitterroot Valley near Hamilton, Montana. At this point, I thought the conversation was going to shift, but it really didn’t.
I explained that my family homesteaded the area around Colville and has been in the Forest Industry dating back to the 1920’s. I shared that we did have a mill in Midway, Brittish Columbia, but that we did business in both countries. He seemed to agree with me that the state of the forests, especially those controlled by the US Federal Government, was is severe disrepair. Soon after it took a strange turn.
He said something to the effect of, “Don’t you think they are behind us in the way they care for their forests?” I was wondering where he was trying to go with it. You may not agree with the specific way forests are managed in Canada, but they are managed sustainably. I also shared that from what I have seen in BC, the government did a reasonably good job setting parks and sensitive areas aside. Then the rest of the areas are in some sort of management scheme. I also shared that I didn’t see the same concern about mismanagement of the Canadian forests by the Canadian public that we saw in the US.
I then asked if he thought that the way in which all projects were challenged in the US in the 80’s and 90’s were a good thing for the forests. He said, rather abruptly, that “it didn’t turn out well, but I don’t think the way the Canadians were doing it was quite right either.” I said that I think “they have been doing a much better job than US Government land managers, but there’s always room for improvement. That’s the beauty of the forest, it grows.”
It’s not the first time someone has thought I was a Canadian. I take it as a compliment. I would gladly sign up for Dual-Citizenship if someone let me. Maybe I should ask Premier Christy Clark the next time I see her checking in on the mill at Midway. One thing is for sure, Canadian political leaders care about their forest industry and treat them as partners. That’s a far cry from what we typically see on the south side of the political line. Maybe if more US politicians took the same kind of interest in our forests, forest communities, and rural economies we wouldn’t have reporters trying to insinuate that a system that’s inept is somehow doing it better than one that is successfully working.