Roseburg’s longtime slogan, “Timber Capital of the Nation,” appears on public signs and city stationery. Police officers wear the city motto on their sleeves.
The city, however, may cut its ties to the old slogan, dropping it in favor of something about the Umpqua, a word variously translated as “thundering waters,” “across the water” or “satisfied.”
“The community has been ‘Land of Umpqua’ for 10 years and hasn’t been the timber capital of the nation since the 1980s,” City Manager Lance Colley said.
For decades, beginning with the post-World War II building boom, Douglas County timber harvests routinely topped 1 billion board feet a year and sometimes approached 2 billion board feet.
The number of sawmills in the county went from 37 in 1939 to 278 in 1947. The city’s ability to harvest the “green gold” earned Roseburg the timber capital title, according to the city’s website.
Since the northern spotted owl was listed as a threatened species in 1990, however, timber harvests have declined. During the construction slump in 2009, the county’s harvest dropped to 384 million board feet.
The decline in logging has intersected with the city’s goal to enhance Roseburg’s image. City staff members last month presented to the City Council two candidates for a new logo developed by Inerseshen Creative Media of Roseburg.
The boast about timber was gone, replaced in both drawings by “Heart of the Land of Umpqua.” One suggested logo emphasized a leaping salmon.
Councilor Rick Coen said he liked the new look, noting the Umpqua River’s status as a top river for fly fishing.
He recalled, however, councilors discussed a logo change several years ago and heard from people who didn’t like city signs featuring salmon.
“They felt it was a timber community, and they were upset,” he said.
Douglas Timber Operators Executive Director Bob Ragon said he hopes the city won’t give up on the old slogan. He noted that Douglas County remains a top timber producer.
“I know if they make this change, it doesn’t say forest products aren’t important, but it sends out a message that maybe they aren’t,” Ragon said.
Ragon also said the timing would be bad.
Conservation groups last week launched an advertising campaign against a plan authored by Oregon Reps. Peter DeFazio, Greg Walden and Kurt Schrader to increase logging on Oregon & California Railroad trust lands. The groups argue that tourism and recreation will be more important than the wood-products industry to Oregon’s future economic growth.
The DeFazio-Walden-Schrader may be poised to pass the U.S. House. Meanwhile, environmentalists and the timber industry await for Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate natural resources committee, to stake out a position on O&C lands.
“Right now, DeFazio, Walden and Schrader are working hard to get a bill through Congress, and I think it would be a bad signal for City Council to say timber is not important anymore,” Ragon said. “I know that is not what they are saying (literally), but they are in essence.”
The City Council hasn’t made a decision about the motto. Some councilors have suggested a public contest to come up with a new logo.
The News-Review called some subscribers and asked if they thought the city needed an updated slogan.
“The timber one was good at the time, but right now it’s not so much,” said Kay Armstrong, who has lived in Roseburg for 47 years.
“I think that since we are no longer the timber capital of the nation, that we should change it,” Roseburg resident Janet Avant said. “I came (here) in 1993, so I didn’t see it when there was a lot of logging, but it would be good to change it.”
•You can reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know if they make this change, it doesn’t say forest products aren’t important, but it sends out a message that maybe they aren’t.
Bob Ragon, Douglas Timber Operators executive director