The Last Stand


The Last Stand Essay, Research Paper

Throughout the book, The Last Stand David Harris the author illustrates the drastic changes Pacific Lumber Company began to undergo, as management changed. The old P.L was very successful due to the principles they practiced and the way they handled their company affairs. The old P.L followed two basic principals, “selective cut” and “sustainable yield,” that allowed them not to run out of resources yearly. Charles Hurwitz`s takeover of Pacific Lumber led to a “new era,” with production and profit increase, but such an increase would cost Humboldt city their ecosystem.

“Selective cut” and “Sustainable yield” were the base of Pacific Lumber, before the take over by Hurwitz. Selective cut was adopted by P.L after years filled with problems such as, mudslides. Mud slides caused minerals to be stripped off the land. This caused trees to stop growing which became a problem for lumbermen. Hurtwitz points out “Redwoods, which normally regenerate from their own stumps, had died out, deprived of the soil they needed to sustain, themselves, and been replace by older and other “junk” tress worthless to lumbermen.” (p.17) Once Albert Murphy became chief executive, he changed the company policy to “selective cut” which meant P.L could only cut trees of a certain age or height; those who did not meet regulations were left to mature. Basically, P.L would be given a maximum amount of trees it would be allowed to cut. “When harvesting, P.L cut a maximum of 70% of the nature trees in a stand, leaving the younger, most vigorous redwood to hold the hillside and seed a new generation” (p.17) This allowed maturation trees.

“Sustainable yield” was the second policy Albert Murphy enforced. While competing Lumber Company cut themselves out of existence P.L would have more then enough resources. This policy consisted of an annual cut limit that would never exceed its new growth. These two policies were very beneficial for P.L, this allowed the Company to expand its timberlands rather than maximizing production and running out of resources. “Selective cut” and “sustainable yield” would only last for a few years, new management would change.

After months of manipulation Charles Hurwitz seceded in taking over P.L. The takeover brought a few alterations to company policies. “Most of P.L`s policies for cutting timber, set half, a century ago by old Mr. Murphy, were transformed immediately upon the advent of Charles Hurwitz ownership (p.131).” One of the main reasons why Hurwitz abandoned the old policies was because to he wanted to make as much money as possible in a short period of time. Hurwitz was not alone with this idea of making a big market of lumber. John Campbells the vice president of P.L wanted to double or even maybe triple production. The technique of clear cutting was being used to increase the amount of profit in a short time period. The clear cutting technique had two purposes 1) help pay off bank and associate loan. 2) To gain as much profit possible.

The Selective cut system just wasn’t working out as well as it should and the time had come for the company to modify its traditional approach if it wanted to maximize the productivity of its resource base (pp.45-46).” Hurwitz makes it clear with this statement that Pacific Lumber would have considered changing in the future its old policies. If the Murphy’s had continued running P.L maybe their policies would have stayed the same. They did not care much about profit; it was more of provided the community with a sure job for the rest of their lives. But in contrast when the new management took over they only cared about profit and highbred a vast amount of employees. There has been controversy on dating when P.L actually changed their harvest policies, if it was before or after Hurwitz takeover, but as Hurwitz points out “The decision to change the Company’s timber harvest policies was made before the merger (p.210).”

Changes of the Land by William Cronin and The Last Stand by David Harris had similarities and differences. Both emphasized on how redwood trees where being used; how the land went through physical changes that altered the ecosystem, and the affects these alterations had on humans and animals. A major difference between Harris and Cronin’s literature, was that the characters in The Last Stand where aware of the consequences that their acts would have on the ecosystem. In contrast the characters of Changes of the Land where not aware of the consequences due the concept of having a vast amount of land was new to them. In The Last Stand, environmental groups took actions agents those who choose to miss use the land. Such groups where EPIC and Earth First. In contrast Cronon`s book did not show evidence of having any environmental groups. Both books did not take laws seriously, both found ways to get around them. In the end both colonists` and Hurwitz had a great deal of affect on the ecosystem, much of it could not be repaired.

In The Last Stand the author David Harris illustrates the changes the environment went through after Hurwitz take over. Sustainable yield and Selective cut where two good policies for the “old” P.L, but as the company went through a management change these policies also changed, but not for the good of the environment. The Last Stand and Changes of the land have many similarities and differences, but in the end they both had drastic affects on the environment.

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