When Bruce’s school principal told his parents he was too smart to be a logger, everything changed. Set apart from a family heritage society had deemed not ‘good enough’ for a smart son, Bruce’s childhood was tortured by the thought of leaving a life he loved.
Dutifully, he moved away, went to college and got a job in a city. Until he and his wife, fed up with their ill-suited life, shucked all social expectations and moved their family back to Libby, Montana. Expecting to settle into a hard but rewarding life in logging, Bruce’s family and community were rocked by a growing antagonism towards their industry. Soon, he was thrust into the forefront of a national debate in which loggers were denigrated for destroying the environment.
Dubbed the Timber Wars, the conflict raged from the late 80s through the 90s, while Bruce was front and center, working himself to exhaustion to preserve their heritage and ensure good forest management.
As the logging contracts dried up, he could only watch in agony as his family’s business closed and his community began to fall apart. Bruce and his fellow loggers had become Public Enemy No. 1 and their livelihoods were being eradicated. Yet Americans continued to enjoy their wood furniture and products. Only now, timber imports were on the rise and our national forests were exploding into flames from a massive fuel overload that management and controlled logging could have mitigated.
Confronting this harsh reality, he and his team faced the hardest work yet – looking in the mirror. What had they been doing wrong? What can we do to work towards real, meaningful progress?