America needs forest–and housing–policy to include end-use of the trees we fell.
As many Americans know all too well, concerns about forest conservation and affordable housing have drawn increasing attention across the US. These topics are of special interest in regions where logging is primarily devoted to provided lumber for human housing.
What may be less known is that the pairing of forest and housing policy has had a long and colorful history spanning the past 70 years.
In his 1947 book, Breaking New Ground, Gifford Pinchot, an early head of the U.S. Forest Service, wrote that, “The rightful use and purpose of our natural resources is to make all the people strong and well, able and wise, well-clothed, well-housed…with equal opportunity for all and special privilege for none.”
Back then, if only briefly, America’s political leadership was responsive to ordinary needs and dreams of being “well-housed.” In 1949, America passed its Housing Act, which stated that it is the policy of the United States to provide “…a decent home and suitable environment for every American family.”
With this, Congress stated a clear end-use of forest products when logging delivers wood to the market.
That was the end-use then. It’s not happening now, but it remains a core rationale promoted by the logging industry. After all, there’s plausibly no better way to endear logging to the public than to connect the dots from…