Plum Creek, Weyerhaeuser, and the Bottom Line


by James Thompson

The giant timber-based Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) known currently as Plum Creek (PC, for short) is asking the people of Alachua County to modify our extensive Comprehensive Plan in order to build a new city on environmentally sensitive wetlands. County Staff and local observers vigorously recommend against the proposed development. It asks for an exception to the Comp Plan that only benefits Plum Creek. It demands development before it will promise to contribute to infrastructure. The parcel lies far from any relevant transportation network. Contrary to Plum Creek’s novel and self-proclaimed stake in mitigating inequality in East Gainesville, the proposed changes will steal fire, money, investment, and talent from existing and planned projects near that city’s urban core.

It appears to be a hat trick for “No” on this issue. Yet, in clever anticipation of these arguments, Plum Creek has for years manufactured support for its land-value improvement through a corporate-steered pseudo-public forum known as Envision Alachua, complete with local payola, the recruitment of charity representatives to tout PC’s alleged generosity, and not some small amount of scare tactics about what terrible things will happen if we don’t let them develop. The company’s expensive advertising campaigns, unprecedented claims as community developer, and unmatched public relations expertise are well known. But they are most intimately documented in the analytical oral history of local voices in Episode 3 of our Sierra Club’s “Plum Pudding” series. The hat trick feels more like bases loaded with no outs.

No doubt local wrangling accounts for a lot of the politicking around this issue–Sierra Club progressives vs. development-oriented liberals. Tea Party Republicans vs. Democrat environmentalists. Town and Gown elitists vs. East Side advocates. Democratic Executive Committee leadership vs. grassroots issue-based partisans. The list of rifts is by no means exhaustive, and easily made inaccurate by observations on the ground. It also muddies a lot of complicated cross-fertilization on both the develop-at-all-costs and don’t-touch-a-thing spectrum. What is exhaustive, however, is the thorough fashion in which we have allowed Plum Creek to exploit and exacerbate these local tensions by linking its real estate investment to some of our longstanding failures in the areas of demographic economic equality, social justice, and responsible development. Shame on us as a County. It is our job to fix our problems. We should not yield community building to the inexperience and grand claims of anonymous profit-oriented outside shareholders in a timber REIT.

Well and good, but one more casualty of our politicking needs addressing, one that may help us understand what to expect of any deal we make or exception we grant to Plum Creek or its merging buyout partner, Weyerhaeuser (Weyco). That casualty is our failure to search history, both distant and contemporary, for examples of the character, nature, and mission of Plum Creek, Weyerhaueser, and companies like them. With that search, we can learn to expect that the newly merged mega-corporation will do what both companies have always done best. They will represent the interest of their shareholders to make the most money possible. They will likely continue to clear cut whole forests, leave local economies stranded after changing strategies, and make uneven land deals that leave a naive public in the dark and in the red. They will continue to work through a “non-profit” they created and govern to “certify” and advertise their products as “green.” Born of government largesse and lobbying, both will continue to feed from the public trough whenever possible. They will do so as they have for decades by exploiting tensions in our community that have absolutely nothing to do with their bottom line, but everything to do with distracting us from its rule over their decision making. And yes, they will keep exploiting rifts in our community.

The parent buyout partner Weyco is among the oldest and most powerful landowners on our planet, and county is a leader at the municipal and non-profit institutional level in conservation stewardship. Across the globe, high finance profiteers are using REITs like PC and Weyco to make bank at the expense of working people and the public, while locals struggle to balance ecology, conservation, and smart growth against some of the finest greenwashed propaganda campaigns that money can buy. The world may not yet be watching the slick Envision Alachua process, but based on our decision, it could soon be.

LITTLE MILLS ON THE PRAIRIE
PC and Weyco know a little something about bedtime stories and history. The internet’s Wayback Machine takes us to Plum Creek’s website in 1998, one year before the timber company became a REIT. Evoking the fictional Minnesota homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the introductory narrative tells of a “meandering” streamlet and a lumber mill quaintly located thereupon. You can almost smell the fresh lumber turned under saw and the sweat of mill workers. Likewise, Weyco’s corporate history poses a grandfatherly Frederick Weyerhaeuser claiming his devotion to the generations ahead and pridefully claiming the company’s “courage to risk.” But events on the ground form company biographies more blood kin to David Lynch’s troubled Colorado mill town in Twin Peaks than the televised fantasy of Little House on the Prairie.

Like prosperous twins separated at birth, the merging Weyco/Plum Creek’s (WPC) components seem to have been blessed by the same good fortunes. These include a birthright to the federal land grabbing schemes of early railroad building, a salacious thirst for profiteering on public lands, an ability to break the law repeatedly without consequence. They share an uncanny knack for convincing some naive environmentalists that all is done in a responsible and sustainable fashion, even while fomenting land swaps that trade denuded forests for rich public lands, contributing to species extinction, and lending a hand to economic devastion in the form of landslides and unnecessary mill closings.

The tinier sibling is still a historical giant by any measure. Plum Creek is an ironic, and iconic, legacy of expansionist federalism during and after the Civil War. The checkerboard lands owned alternately by the United States and PC resemble those of Weyco, which like most big timber companies were originally the fruits of railroad expansion. In PC’s case it was the grand Northern Pacific Railroad. Alternating parcels were given to railroad companies, and kept in the public trust, for connecting lines across the continent. They were intended to be resold to settlers for development. But more often, the extractive industry would swap back its own worthless clearcut or slow-growing forests for even more valuable public lands, rich in available timber resources for leapfrogging to the next lumber town. An additional 1897 Forest Lieu Exchange Act after the rail building era, for example, allowed Northern Pacific Railroad to swap millions of acres of basically worthless land to the Federal government in exchange for valuable timber and mining areas. Frederick Weyerhaeuser, a friend of its reunited sister PC’s ancestor Northern Pacific Railroad, sat on its board and made bank on such legislation at the expense of the public.

The localized extraction of lumber by these historical entities resembled mining. Take what you can, leave behind a broke town and devastated environment, shut down the processing centers (mills and mines), and move on. If you run out of timber on your own property, get the government to give away rights on public lands. In PC and Weyco’s case, they eventually milled much of the publicly owned lumber outside the United States. By the middle of the twentieth century, they were shipping it overseas to Asia and Europe. Wherever it went, the quantities were massive. Weyco has by its own historical account cut 4 million acres of U. S. land since 1900, leaving behind as told in its corporate history hundreds of denuded forests and broken mill towns. Whether this century-long history is evil or unjust is a question for the ages. Whether it has been profitable is beyond the asking.

Indeed, the one thing both Weyco and PC are good at throughout history is making money through innovative means. Weyco combined luck, foresight, and pioneering science to produce managed forests of genetically selected trees that would make board feet of lumber more quickly and more ready to mill. As early as the late 1960s it planted these special harvestable trees that are now mature in areas of the Southeastern United States. It may not have experience building good communities, but it has a long and patient imagination when it comes to profiting from timber. Likewise, Plum Creek’s nearly lifelong CEO Rick Holley is a veritable rock star in the world of profitable resource extraction and high finance, with some of the highest returns on investment over decades for his shareholders in the industry. He once even gave back a pay bonus equivalent to the greater portion of charity funding his company donated in 2015 (about $2 million, or, 1% of their 2015 revenue). He said he didn’t deserve it because shareholders hadn’t made a profit that year as expected. Does PC care about our community? Maybe. Does it love its shareholders? Most certainly.

Both companies have historically done the kind of bottom line business investors like to see. In 1986 Weyerhaeuser won concessions after a timber union strike including a four dollar an hour pay cut. Other timber companies followed their lead. Nevermind Weyco’s profits rose from $277 million in 1986 to $564 million two years later. Nothing personal, timber milling just wasn’t making the same money as real estate and banking. Just a few years later, the local mill economy of Roslyn, Washington suffered as PC had been clear-cutting huge swatches of forest, much of it to send overseas for milling. Nothing personal, again, said the company spokesperson. Just a market decision to hold off corporate raiders during a down time. The company’s business is the bottom line.

Even in its hallmark conservationist mode, PC has had that kind of objective singularity of profit-making purpose that investors can put in the bank. In the 1990s it jumped on the Habitat Conservation Plan bandwagon. This is a federal system whereby a timber company can basically decide which species it wants to “take” (“kill, maim, harass, trap” in the words of the law) and which it shall “conserve.” As one of PC’s biologists analyzed the federal law, he noted bluntly: “This is a negotiated document . . . All along we were also looking at the economic bottom line. At some point we had to say, ‘No, we’ve given up the ranch.’ This is where an HCP becomes not only a biological plan but a business plan.”

THE PROPHETS OF GREENWASHING
We shouldn’t be surprised at what may sound like a historically callous disregard for people and the environment. After all, PC’s longtime CEO Holley admits to knowing little about conservation, or even timber. He hires local talent for that. He is a finance specialist. Plum Creek “does” conservation for one reason, and one reason only. As they acknowledge, “logging without it is a nightmare.” Weyco’s global operations likewise tease out conservation elements through their business planning in only the smallest amounts necessary for the publication of advertising propaganda through the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Both companies have transcended their corporate history of resource extraction at all costs, not by doing things differently, but by telling a different story about themselves. Both are experts at making greenbacks through greenwashing–making ecologically destructive practices sound like gifts to the environment and consumers. Likely no industry does it better.

The 1960s and 1970s were heydays of clearcutting when science and the public became more aware of the ecological devastation of unmanaged timber. Communities fell apart, labor relations crumbled. Locals became familiar with the results of species extinction, erosive degradation near human habitations, pollution from defoliants, and the despoilation of timbered public lands by private companies. It happened all over the globe, and continues. Weyco has a long history of disinvesting from overseas companies involved in heavy clearcutting in less-regulated environments like Siberia and China, then continuing to buy untraceable products from those companies. In this regard, it has been responsible for the clearcutting of whole forests in the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The industry says all that has changed, but only cursory efforts were made even after PC’s emergence in the timber industry of the early 1990s. In 1992 the Council on Economic Priorities, a corporate watchdog group, gave Plum Creek poor marks for clear cutting and for unsustainable harvesting. While Plum Creek claimed its harvest and regrowth rates would catch up by century’s end under new practices, critics wondered how many board feet of lumber could be raked away in the meantime. At about the same time the North Carolina Environmental Defense Fund sued Weyco, the Environmental Protection Agency, and U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to force the protection of the sensitive East Dismal Swamp wetlands in the northeast part of the state. Having stated it wasn’t in the business of protecting swamps, Weyco wanted to drain the area to grow timber for harvest.

The general picture was bleak from an environmental perspective. In 1993 the University of Montana found that Plum Creek and other companies had been cutting their timber at three times the acceptable rate for regrowth silviculture. Meanwhile, it was buying up denuded forests that outgoing company Champion was leaving behind at bargain rates, along with many mill jobs that were the backbone of local economies in and around Missoula. Said one Champion executive, “I don’t think you can hold a company’s feet to the fire for everything it did over the last twenty years.” Plum Creek and Weyco were at the same time making the same arguments about their predecessors and, literally, their ancestors. It’s okay, they said. We’ve changed.

Weyco had particular problems in this period, specifically environmental cleanups for which it was held responsible at 42 sites throughout the United States. Legal experts for the company argued and fought for Aetna, their insurer, to cover the costs. Most agreed the mistakes were a result of poor financial planning. Quite simply the cost of taking risks with safety and ecological stewardship had outweighed the benefits of the shortcuts. Meanwhile, both PC and Weyco were taking advantage of the latest federally legislated species protection instrument, the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This is one of the many public-private corporate “deals” that “good liberals” made in the Clinton era with big business. By most conservationist accounts, it was bad science mixed with federal giveaways with little or no oversight and disastrous results. Companies violated the loose rules whenever possible.

The idea that a merged WPC will act differently than its forebears has no merit in examining more contemporary history. The merger is happening for one reason: to make money for its shareholders, not to protect the environment. In 2006 the Seattle Audubon Society and the Natural Resources Council of Maine insisted that the U. S. Forest Service’s Sustainable Forestry Board decertify both Plum Creek and Weyco until they could meet their own industry standards. As recently as 2014 the Center for Sustainable Economy noted that in Oregon alone Plum Creek had received 11 civil penalties for major violations of clear cutting, habitat, and silviculture protocols.

PC and Weyco have been progressing in their efforts under cover from one of the greatest greenwashing propaganda efforts in corporate history, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. In 2007, heavy rains combined with landslides in denuded forests in Washington state causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to private and public property. Surprisingly, 84% of these landslides occurred in areas certified as “sustainable” by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, touted as an industry watchdog and certifier by the timber and paper products industry. In response to a complaint with SFI about the company implicated in most of the landslides, an SFI auditor cleared the company of all wrongdoing, and SFI rejected the complaint. Oddly enough, one of Weyco’s officers sat on the Board of the SFI. More unusual was that SFI, which certifies all of Weyco’s and Plum Creeks products as sustainable, was actually created by the timber and paper products industry.

 

Plum Creek has leveraged the SFI to do its bidding. A complaint by Oregon conservationists noted “the fact that Plum Creek’s known violations are geographically dispersed, spread over 6 years, and duplicative.” This, they argued, “suggests a pattern of willful non-compliance – a pattern ignored by Plum Creek’s SFI audits . . . which fail to reflect due diligence in investigating the consistency of Plum Creek’s Oregon operations with SFI standards or the law.” This is consistent throughout the timber REIT industry. The report SFI: Certified Greenwash, shows some tricks of the trade, and clues us in on what to expect in the future. Nearly all of SFI’s funding is from the paper and timber industries. The Fiber Sourcing Label (SFI’s most popular label) doesn’t require chain-of-custody tracking of a product’s origins or content. And audits of 543 SFI-certified companies since 2004 failed to report any noncompliance issues related to soil erosion,water quality, clearcutting, and chemical usage. SFI’s cherrypicking of particular parcels on Plum Creek property in select states in order to certify the company proved most egregious. Given that timber is a long-term value adding asset, the lands on which it grows undoubtedly spend most of their time in a visibly pristine state of ecological health, but that didn’t stop the auditors from kicking the ball onto the fairway. Dates for audits, locations, and total land audited were inconsistent with Plum Creek’s third party auditor and bear out a pattern of willful duplicity.

Basically the Sustainable Forestry Initiative is a fake “non-profit” spin-off of industry efforts to brand its products as sustainable for delivery to large consumer outlets like Lowe’s and Home Depot, as well as to meet certifiable standards for nationwide builders of residential and commercial properties. SFI receives the greater portion of its money from the very industries it regulates, and its governing body and research teams are culled from industries it certifies. Its tax-deductible contributions are used, not for the public good, but to create brand legitimacy to sell paper and timber industry products for profit. In 2008 alone half of its budget was diverted to the advertising firm of Peter Norvelli, to the tune of $3.4 million. The Board of Directors has included Plum Creek CEO Rick Holley and WeyCo CEO Daniel Fulton. A string of short-lived terms on the Board by genuine environmental groups has plagued SFI. Its industry President Marvin Brown (2010) resigned his position after violating numerous portions of the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

There is an alternative, the Forest Stewardship Council, but it has come under fire for low standards of certification, including validating the water-hungry and sometimes ecologically devastating cultivation of plantation timber. Even if we accept the FSC as a stellar alternative to the industry’s FSI, it is a David and Goliath tale with an unhappy ending. The timber industry in general has marched hard to include the more lax SFI standards as part of the overarching Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria set forth by the U. S. Green Building Council. They seem to have won for now. Unlike the FSC, the FSI calls for no community consultation, is self-regulating, and has third-party auditors of dubious pedigree. Not surprisingly, FSC has higher standards but little pull in the industry. At Home Depot in 2009, 90% of the wood was certified sustainable, but only 5% of those certifications came from FSC. Also not surprising is that the alphabetically similar FSI was created by the industry in the years after the emergence of the more responsible FSC.

How can PC, Weyco, and the timber REITs get away with such wholesale greenwashing of their products and practices? How are they able to convince local environmentalists of their good deeds? Because they can afford it. Because they make lots of money. That’s what corporations do. But also in part because we have failed to examine their behavior over time and in other places. History teaches investors where to put their money. It should teach us where to put our trust.

COMMUNITY AS PROPAGANDA
Since PC makes claims as community building conservationists and of a sudden recentness wants to mitigate inequality in East Gainesville, it is not unfair to ask what kind of community building we can expect from such a company and its new parent. Will it be charity on the old terms, or something new? We recall that PC CEO Holley gave back almost a year’s worth of charity as a simple bonus he denied himself, and that PC gives less as a percentage of its income (almost a third) than the working poor in the United States. But this alone isn’t a great measure of how these companies perceive community. Historically, communities exist to serve the timber REITs shareholders, not vice versa.

 

As a response to the growing environmentalism and economic devastation from clear cutting in communities of the 1960s and 1970s, timber companies developed new strategies. The profit-making experts reasoned that if the public perceived takings laws, timbering on public lands, and swapping clear cut for valuable federal property as mere attempts to poison the air and water, timber harvesting wouldn’t be so profitable. So the developers took a page from the environmentalists’ playbook. In a series of articles for Logging Management magazine, industry strategist Ron Arnold proposed that corporations pay citizens, not corporate spokesmen, to sell their cause. “Give them the money,” Arnold advised companies at a meeting in 1988. “You stop defending yourselves, let them do it, and you get the hell out of the way. Because citizen’s groups have credibility and industries don’t.”

Originally, this was a strategy to opit environmentalists against job-hungry local economies (often devastated by the very clear cutting the timber companies practiced). No one was better at it than Plum Creek. With millions of dollars paid to private consulting firms they could mobilize petition drives and locally paid “activists” in days or weeks to run favorable legislation their way. “Grassroots” organizers insultingly refer to this as “astro-turfing,” and it largely defined the public discourse and public laws on timber harvesting and land development in the West in the 1990s. A love-child of late nineteenth-century “wise use” conservation and big finance capital, it has fully matured into a more sophisticated scheme like Envision Alachua. In an innovative twist, a timber REIT is making the unprecedented claim that its purpose is to reduce inequality in a nearby metro area by improving its land for sale to developers, even though it owns no land and has no stake in the metro area in question. This is one case where history offers little guidance. While timber REITs have manipulated community sentiment in the past, Envision Alachua is unique in scale. This is no doubt due to our community’s fierce devotion to conservation, one which on its greater days transcends class, racial, and demographic differences.

When community groups do fight back, timber REITs pull no punches to defend their shareholders. Plum Creek has sued non-profits for defending federal laws like the Endangered Species Act. An Idaho judge ruled in 2003 that the timber giant could not bring the power of the federal courts to bear against people attempting to uphold the very federal laws in question. When fighting fails, timber REITs often say they just want to build homes and make jobs for communities. But the homes that companies like Weyco want to help us build exist in a difficult to navigate world of derivatives, bad loans, and executive deal making. Weyerhaeuser Mortgage Company (WMC), a Weyco subsidiary, was a leader in producing the mortgage loan debacle of the last great recession. It conspired with firms as large as General Electric in the subprime scandals of the era. As early as 1998, a host of its loans were going into foreclosure at five times the subprime rate. Federal regulators published a study citing WMC as having the second most foreclosures in some of the hardest hit areas. In our beloved Sunshine State, half its Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie loans between 2005 and 2007 were foreclosed by the end of 2009. Elsewhere, the McMansin and ski resort development that has taken place on rezoned lands owned and then sold by PC and Weyco are hardly the stuff of legend. Out west these are often the “second homes” of the wealth caste that these companies aim to please. Welcome to the timber REIT neighborhood.

Timber REITs have even, and often, exploited the naivete of local conservationists. To make their land contiguous, and more attractive for both logging efficiency and real estate development, the timber companies historically and currently make land swap deals with the federal government. Denuded forests are often traded for rich timber land that the public owns, or that conservationists would even be happy to log responsibly to support ecological projects, recreational facilities, or the local economy. Private for-profit parties often negotiate the deals behind closed doors or with little public understanding or input of complex land valuation issues. Local supporters of trails, outdoor recreation, or scenic overlooks are recruited. The benefits to the local economy or citizens are touted. But protest is difficult and public hearings constitute “little more than a minister’s call for objections at a public wedding.” In Arkansas, Nevada, and Colorado alone, the Seattle Times found dozens of swaps that left the public holding the beggar’s cup.

In fact, Weyco has never met a community it couldn’t ride out for a profit, or a big old-growth tree it didn’t want to cut down. It has stolen from native peoples, dismissed local concerns from both environmental and conservation groups, and done what it pleases except when challenged rigorously. It has even touted its skills at recruiting the U. S. Forest Service into deal making contrary to the public interest, and brags about its ability to manipulate local groups into providing “political cover” for the swaps.

So many of us think our community can outrun PC/Weyco, WPC, or Weyerhaeuser/Plum Creek . . . just this once, like no one else has. But that only happens if we imagine that these entities will not behave like corporations, and that they are not corporations. It only works if we imagine they care about our community. But we just don’t know if the company that seems to care about us now will be the same company later, whether they will comply with any deal we make, or whether they will keep attempting to overturn every law they meet that interferes with their profits.

THIS LAND IS WHO’S LAND?
In an unprecedented move, Alachua County recently allowed an uncontested massive annexation of Plum Creek lands into Hawthorne City limits. Perhaps Plum Weyco, or Creek-Weyerhaueser, or whoever they are, is ready to quit being a corporation and get into the community building business. But we just can’t know, since all they are doing at this moment is trying to sell their idea to other corporations, for a profit. And everything we know about them says they will leave, swap, turn coat, or cut bait as soon as they do. That’s what’s worked for them in the past. It still does.
Perhaps we will meet a Weyco-Creek that has changed, a Weyco taking over Plum Creek that turns into a great environmental steward? A community builder? A reverser of inequality in East Gainesville? Or will we meet, again, the Weyco ordered to pay $700,000 in damages for willfully contributing to 13 cancer deaths at a noxious pulp mill. Or will it be the Weyco that breached its fiduciary and moral obligations to its employees and retirees by putting 80% of their retirement plan into risky derivatives, hedge funds, and private equity, which benefitted Weyco executives and offered no imaginable gains to plan beneficiaries? Or is it the Weyco that cut health benefits to salaried employees after promising them rewards for moving out of union jobs?

 

We can get it in writing, and on paper . . . any deal we make with Creek/Weyco. But as history has shown, deals will be broken, regulations stymied, and practices altered to meet the needs of shareholders and profiteering. The only real paper that has weight in the hands of timber REITs is the kind you print money on. Dollar bills. If you make a deal with a timber REIT, want a conservation swap for timber land, or care to see responsible growth, bring suitcases filled with the stuff. And expect to leave a lot lighter.

 

It’s not necessarily about evil corporations, or the local talent they pay to do their bidding. It’s certainly not about Plum Creek, because we don’t even know if it exists anymore in its former form. Under the new proposed buyout structure Plum Creek’s CEO Rick Holley won’t be in charge any more. The putative godfather behind PC’s massive financial success, and the executive leader of the team that crafted Envision Alachua and a plan to allegedly mitigate economic injustice on the East Side of Gainesville, is simply no longer the boss of it all. He will instead become a “non-executive chairman” according to Weyco. Their own president and CEO, Doyle Simons, keeps that role for the merged corporation. Yes, the CEO of that company that lured General Electric, America’s most favored corporation, into the subprime lending scam of the last Recession.

 

It is about corporations just doing what they do, which is serving the bottom line. That’s what Plum Creek, Weyerhaeuser, and other timber-companies-turned-REITs always have done, and likely always will. Whether it’s harvesting lumber from public lands to send it overseas while local mills shut down, or evading taxes through high finance schemes like Real Estate Investment Trusts, we know their kind. To believe they have any interest in conservation, responsible development, or helping reduce inequality and poverty in our County, much less East Gainesville where they have no stake, is naive and runs against the clear-cut old-growth wood grains of their history.

 

The expensive dog and pony show of community concern is required to get around pesky Northern Spotted Owls (of Weyerhaeuser fame), actual “creeks”, and local Comprehensive Plans, not just here, but all over the country, and the globe. REIT’s, American style, are now a planetary phenomenon. And using local interest groups as propaganda mills has been acknowledged as a business strategy by timber REITs for their global audience. The way they do it here is grand, but it is a mere refinement. Given the recent buyout between Weyco and PC, and the likely devolution of PC’s CEO into a less powerful figure, there is every sign that the discontinuity of ownership and responsibilities, and the ongoing corporate mission of profiteering among these firms will continue as it has since Northern Pacific had its workers hammer the first railroad spike to a wooden tie.

 

Alachua County’s Comprehensive Plan, and the staff hired by our democratically elected officials to serve our interests, are by no means perfect. But we elect them and pay them to serve us. As principled and continuous entities they far outweigh Plum Creek and Weyerhaeuser in value, because when we are in control of them, they don’t serve the bottom line. As history bears out, there can be little profit for our community or the environment in believing otherwise.