Against the Odds

Written by Dennis Sun

At the summer convention of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in Buffalo during the second week of June, Bruce Vincent, a logger from Libby, Mont., was the keynote speaker. Bruce was selling his latest book after his speech, and I bought one.

I, like a number of you, have known about Bruce or have heard him speak a number of times. His talks are always good, as they represent his life and the wrongs of the radical environmental community against him and his family's logging business.

Vincent Logging was started years ago by the Vincent family, who were also in the ranching and farming business.  When the spotted owl issue hit the West Coast and moved east through Montana, Vincent Logging went under as another victim of radical environmental activists wanting to save the earth their way. We have since realized that there are fewer spotted owls today, and our forests are burning up due to mismanagement.

After college and some jobs, Bruce, his wife and family came home to Libby to help the family with logging and the lumber mill. Despite logging recessions due to national housing setbacks, Vincent Logging grew until they were forced to close up the mill and logging business that employed up to 65 families. Bruce never quit trying to recover. He worked tirelessly with the Forest Service, environmentalists, the community and others on management of forests. He started speaking at colleges, in communities and everywhere he was asked and was very well received. Later on, he started Provider Pals, an organization that would pair high school students from ranching, fishing and logging communities with intercity high school students, giving them the chance to speak and get to know each other. Also, the intercity students would come west into small communities and experience our way of life. It has worked great.

Through Bruce’s travels, he saw how bad the air and water quality were in other parts of the country. He realized we only had one planet to live on, and we all needed to change. He didn’t feel the environmental movement was the correct way. It wasn’t helpful just to protect and not use proper management of resources, such as logging.

He said, “These sentiments, feelings of morality or ethical obligation complicate how we use our natural resources. An individual may feel that something isn’t ‘right’ and that may, for better or for worst, trump, in their mind, property rights.  They may feel compelled to act in order to protect their ‘interest’ – the environment and influence how we are managing nature’s resources.”

He said the Equal Access to Justice Act has really helped the environmental movement as it paid the bills for their actions, mainly lawsuits.

He writes, “The Act was enacted in the late 1970s in an effort to level the legal playing field for the Vietnam Veterans who were trying to tackle the Veterans Administration over sickness brought home by use of Agent Orange during the war. Now, that Act is terribly abused.”

Now Bruce says we have to start managing our forest land correctly and thin out the forests or there is going to be a Katrina of the Forest event.

A fire will start in the northwest or southwest that we’re not going to be able to control.

“Smokey Bear wasn’t getting it right, as the Forest Service now admits,” Vincent continues

Bruce Vincent gets it. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, go there, or read his book, Against the Odds.