Magazine work 1978-97

I started writing freelance during the Social Credit  government of Bill Bennett (1975-86) in British Columbia, when the Ministry of Forests implemented new “multiple-use” and “sustained yield” policies for forestry — then still the province’s biggest industry — via new legislation, and sought to inform the public about it. In those days the government was actually inviting the public to be involved in decisions about the use of our forest heritage. Getting on ForesTalk editor Cameron Young’s regular contributor list was a break for me.

Estuary Logjam, ForesTalk Resource Magazine, Spring 1982, one of a dozen feature articles I wrote for the magazine.

Estuary Logjam pageThe  issue was how to mitigate ongoing degradation of sensitive ecosystems. BC’s river-mouth estuaries have long been used for storing logs bound for the mills. I worked to render the conflict in vernacular English for readers seeking a quick take on complex matters of science and governance. For a case study we chose the estuary of the Cowichan River on Vancouver Island. With no training in science beyond Grade 12 Physics and Chemistry and no background in public service, I started by simply immersing myself in the subject. It came off okay — the article won a Western Magazine Award.

Interview with Peter Pearse, ForesTalk, Summer 1980. Dr. Pearse, UBC economist and royal commissioner on forest resources, in an early interview post-his 1976 report and post-the government’s 1978 legislation, voiced concern that the legislation encouraged concentration of the BC forest industry into “fewer and fewer bigger and bigger companies.” The interview format allows a writer to create a didactic piece in a semblance of dialogue. Writing begins after I’ve made a transcript of the recording. Does that imply it was a snip and tweak job? Interviews in ForesTalk were quite crafted. I published nine interviews there, with bankers, lobbyists, truck loggers …

Hard Times in the Northwest, ForesTalk, Spring 1983. In the middle of the economic downturn of 1981-83, I rambled around from Terrace to Hazelton to Smithers, absorbing impressions of BC’s North Coast region.

Hard times opageOne of the challenges faced by folks in the Skeena Valley was that publicly-owned timber had no market as lumber. It was chipped rather than sawn and shipped in looong railway cars to the Port Edward pulp mill. That’s my photo of the Terrace sawmill in a two-page spread.

ForesTalk sent me to many parts of our gigantic (950,000 sq km/366,000 sq mi) province before it, too, folded in 1983. For a while I wrote for forestry trade publications; later, annual reports, newsletters and other publications for the BC government.

PDFs courtesy BC Ministry of Forests, whose website has the complete ForesTalk (1973-75, 76-83).

On to Environment and land-use reporting

On to Travel writing

On to Literary essays and reviews