Kurtis Vaagen is a third generation Washington lumberman, and the younger of Duane Vaagen’s two sons. Vaagen Brothers Lumber Company was established near Colville by the elder Mr. Vaagen’s father in 1952. His grandson, Kurtis, 31, handles special projects for the company, devoting a good deal of his time to the company’s relationship with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation. The tribe owns about 1.4 million acres of which 660,000 acres are prime timberland in Northeast Washington and sells timber to Vaagen Brothers. Mr. Vaagen was also responsible for daily operation of Vaagen Brother’s portable sawmill in northern Arizona, before it was leased to another company.
Evergreen: Tell us a bit about your growing up years and your education
Vaagen I was born and raised here in Colville, and spent just about every opportunity I could find in the woods. After graduating Colville High School in 2003 I moved to Spokane and enrolled in Spokane Community College. I earned my AAS Degree from SCC in Environmental Sciences and Forestry.
Evergreen: Did you always believe you’d come to work here?
Vaagen: I always knew I wanted to live in this area, given my desire to work close to the forest. And, at some level, I knew my Dad would provide the opportunity for me to engage in the forest health debate underway here in Northeast Washington and around the country. But my dad never said, ‘You have to come to work for our family’s company. That was my choice, and I’m glad I made it.