Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
When I drive up to Yosemite to do my Half Dome hikes, I like to poke around and learn about things along the route. I read most of the roadside markers. In my book I talk about the huge lumber mill that is on the north of Highway 120 just east of the Highway 108 split. (See page 37). Here you could see Sierra Pacific Industries’ lumber processing facility. It’s called “The Standard Mill.”
Sierra Pacific Industries is a family-owned forest products company based in Anderson, Shasta County. I’ve seen stacks of logs easily 50 feet high there. Well, this crummy economy means that in the next edition, I may have to remove mention of it. It’s going away. Established in 1901, the mill has been a major element in the lumber industry in the Sonora area. The plant is being shuttered and its 300 jobs will be history. This is the third SPI mill to close this summer in California. The mill’s closure will have a large impact on the U.S. Forest Service, Stanislaus National Forest and its timber program. There will be an increased wildfire danger risk as a result of decreased tree harvesting. In addition, The Forest Service uses timber sales to accomplish much of its forest fire-fuel reduction work. Annually, the Stanislaus National Forest attempts to reduce fuel loading on about 8,000 acres. The main way the agency does it is through timber sales, most of which are to SPI. SPI has been the primary purchaser of Stanislaus National Forest timber over the years. SPI officials attribute the closures to the decreased demand in lumber and timber prices that continue to drop because of the downturn in the housing market. The mill will be closing in September. When I drove by just six months things were humming, but it now resembles a parking lot. Actually, the mill is being “mothballed.” That is, SPI has no plans to reopen the mill, but also no plans to close it permanently. The hope is the lumber market will rebound and necessitate the mill’s reopening.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “I bought a ’30 Ford wagon and we call it a Woody. You know it’s not very cherry, it’s an oldie but a goodie. It ain’t got a back seat or a rear window, but it still gets me where I wanna go. And we’re goin’ to Surf City, ’cause it’s two to one. You know we’re goin’ to Surf City, gonna have some fun. Two girls for every boy.” – Jan & Dean
*Mr. Half Dome -Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com