Oregon is home to 35 different kinds of hardwood trees like the Pacific madrone, but the economy of timber production depends on softwoods like pine and fir. Over 150,000 Oregonians work in the forest sector, generating more than $18 billion a year for the state's economy.
“There's not many people who care to get up at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. And in the summer time, you go out there and you fight the snakes and the bees and the dust and the heat. It's probably one of the most dangerous jobs in the State of Oregon... but the guys that do it, we enjoy it.”
Today, Oregon is the number one producer of softwood lumber and timber in the United States, producing 4.45 billion board feet of timber in 2004, enough to build 445,000 single-family homes.
Until 1960, private lands were the main source for timber. Beginning in 1925, harvest of timber on federal lands doubled every twenty years, peaking at about 6 billion board feet annually in the 1970s and declining since. Now, the majority of the harvest – 85% – comes from private sources.