News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2007
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TOM WRIGHT

Stately pines deserve better fate (and price)

“There’s a lot of middle men between that tree and the 2 x 4 you buy at Home Depot,” the logger said, as he pointed up the towering pine I was attempting to sell him.

That was his way of saying that the handful of mature pines on the farm won’t make us rich if we sell them.

In today’s market he said we are lucky to find someone like him who pays for pine stands like ours.

“Some of these trees are actually too big,” he said. “Sawmills don’t want them that size. They say they are not set up to handle them.

“Those might have to go as pulpwood,” he said, as he surveyed the hollow where the trees grow.

Two things about this deal didn’t seem right. The first, of course, is the small amount of money he was offering for the trees. The other was the injustice. It’s not right to send those stately trees to a mill to be mangled into thin strips and spit out as ugly plywood.

These trees are more than 100 years old. They are survivors. They should have places of honor as majestic centerpieces of fine architecture.

They escaped the indignity of becoming fuel for kitchen stoves long before I was born. They’ve survived pine beetles. They stood tall when ice storms bent and snapped the tops from their neighbors.

I’m sure Dad admired them during his nearly half century of strolling through those woods. But like the Vietnam War strategy, I need to destroy the trees to save them. They are mature; their time to be cut has come.

They are now a threat to the smaller pines we planted about eight years ago because declining trees attract beetles.

The old pines are victims of the new forest we are creating on the hillside. Those trees will be ready for market in about 20 years but they will never reach the grandeur of those that are about to go. The young ones are the pines that today’s mills want, and they will never be the heart pine that once was the hallmark of a good tree.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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