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Loggers Parade Trucks Through Downtown Seattle

June 2, 1989

SEATTLE (AP) _ Northwest loggers spruced up more than 100 logging trucks for a parade past the tony shops of Seattle’s Fifth Avenue, hoping to gain city dwellers’ support for an industry beset by environmental concerns.

″The problem with loggers in Washington state is we have this lumberjack image,″ said Bill Pickell, head of the Washington Contract Loggers Association. ″You mention loggers are coming to town, and you scare people to death. ... We’re business people, not big, dumb oafs.″

Entire logging families turned out for today’s parade, with the children deputized to hand out ribbon-bedecked Douglas Fir seedlings as the convoy rolled through downtown Seattle.

Drivers leaned on the airhorns as about 125 vehicles moved briskly down two lanes of the three-lane avenue. The trucks, including log, lumber, firewood and chip haulers, were cleaned and shined and adorned with signs, such as ″Support the Timber Industry″ and ″Lumber for 1.7 Million New Homes.″

Several hundred people, mostly passersby, paused to watch the parade, and were met on the sidewalks by timber supporters with leaflets, placards and the free trees.

″Keep My Dad Off the Street - Save His Job,″ read a sign carried by one teen-age boy.

A logging equipment company pledged a flatbed truck bearing a ″log skidder,″ a machine that drags cut logs to a loading area. Weyerhaeuser Co., the giant forest products concern, said it was sending a truckload of lumber.

Management of the region’s forests has become an important issue, as shown by the recent court fights to prevent logging in areas inhabited by northern spotted owls.

The loggers association, which is helping sponsor the parade, hopes to show urban residents that a threat to their industry is also a threat to Seattle’s economy, Pickell said.

″We’ve got to bring our story to the urban areas, where the consumers are and the votes are,″ Pickell said. ″The Seattle area enjoys a quality of life which is permeated by the timber industry.″

Nearly 40,000 people statewide worked in the lumber and wood products industry in 1987, said Marc Blegen, a program coordinator with the state Employment Security Department.

Timber interests have vowed to fight federal lawsuits by environmentalists that would bar logging of old growth timber in areas inhabited by spotted owls. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed that the owl be listed as a threatened species, and some 165 timber sales on Forest Service lands in Washington and Oregon have been halted while the courts consider the issue.

The timber industry has accused environmentalists of spreading misinformation about the owl to halt all logging of the huge, ancient trees.

John Cloninger of the small town of Startup has made a living in timber since 1946 and said he’s watched it ″deteriorate and deteriorate. ... Now it’s gotten to be so that people can’t make a living.″

Cloninger pledged two of his eight log trucks to the parade. He said he wanted to show that loggers are regular folks with concerns about their livelihoods who have been given a bad rap as poor forest managers.

″What a lot of people don’t understand is that loggers are environmental people. When I get loose (from work), I take my horses and go to the mountains.″

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