Timber Jim stumps in Salem


Last season, Timber Jim Serrill went to Tanzania to help teach students from The Red Sweater Project with sustainable farming. This spring, he is plunging back in the water and stumping toward the steps of the State Capitol in Salem.

The Timbers' original mascot – the spreader of love – also has a love for kayaking.

“I love the water. It soothes my soul,” Serrill said.

Soothing and sawing – working out of Figure Plant, a design and fabrication studio to build his own kayaks.

“I am going to build cedar strip kayaks and then build stitch and glue,” he said.

While kayaking is a hobby, Serrill can also be called a lobbyist. His current passion project really hits home.

“A lot of guys are exposed to diesel exhaust who get cancer. Firemen, railroad workers, dock workers, truckers ... garbage trucks, little kids in diesel buses,” he said.

A cancer survivor himself, the 63-year-old is slated to hit the state capital in Salem on Monday in support of the Oregon Environmental Council's Clean Engines, Clean Air Act.

“All of those dirty diesel motors, they need to be tested,” said Serrill.

Oregon Senate Bill 1008, which was recently stripped down by the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, allows the state to use the nearly $73 million of Volkswagen settlement money to help ditch dirty diesel machines – ones that potentially led to the prostate cancer that Serrill, a former logger and linesman, battled through.

“There was a sticker on my chipper that said, 'This machine is known to cause birth defects. It's known to cause reproductive harm and cancer in the state of California so they sent all the machines to Oregon or Washington or wherever. That kind of irritates me. More than a little bit,” said Serrill. “An inordinate amount of people that got sick in my work environment so that's why I am passionate about it.”

The Timbers organization also endorses Senate Bill 1008, where the goal is to retire or add a pricey filter to old diesel engines poisoning the air.

“The City of Portland voluntarily retrofitted their heavy duty equipment that sits idling. That’s where the problem is. While it’s idling, it’s collecting those bad particulates and when you put the throttle to it, out blows the black coal exhaust, right. So that is what we are trying to mitigate,” said Serrill.

He added, “Those motors aren’t evil. Those motors did a lot of work. Still do a lot of work. But we don’t want to cripple the little guy, the little business man from operating his machine. He needs that diesel motor.”

“It’s the right thing to do, let’s get rid of it,” Serrill said.

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