« Reveal

Timber Wars

2021-02-13 | 🔗

Thirty years ago, activists and scientists turned a fight over the spotted owl and ancient trees into one of the biggest environmental conflicts of the century. The process transformed the way we see – and fight over – the natural world.

Don’t miss out on the next big story. Get the Weekly Reveal newsletter today.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Revealeth brought who, by progressive one of the countries leading providers of Otto Insurance with progressives, name your price tool, you say what kind of coverage you're looking for and how much you want to pay and progressive will help you find options that fit within your budget, use the name, your price tool and start an online quote today at progressive dot, com, price and coverage match limited by state law from the sooner for investigative reporting, MP or eggs. Goose is reveal a male. Let's do it finally started raining where I live in the Bay area, and I mean finally last year wildfire season was horrific, dim Orange Skies air that was dangerous to breathe an ash falling from above for weeks on end, not to mention the
sure fires themselves. We just in California alone, there were more than four million acres in area, bigger than Connecticut incinerated and, of course, there were record setting fires. all over the west. Every year. For the last ten years, we burn about five hundred thousand acres. This is all Governor Cape Brown on CBS is faced the nation this year, this alone, we ve burned over a million acres of beautiful or again when the governor talks about Beautiful Oregon, she's talking about places like mills sitting in the western foothills of the casket, mountains it surrounded by towering forests. I want to say about right, while your name started here and fire whistle blower entailed TIM curse,
is the mayor of Mill City people earn their drivers it back up and go earliest, be ready to go, and just now in an instant, mill city was largely spared, but surrounding it when levelled, and even before, flames went out. the blame game around last year's fires began, president drop renewed his stand. Monday. They California's wildfire crisis is due to the mismanagement of California forests and not connected to climate change. Will I think this is more of a situation we ve been fighting over the best way to manage our force for decades after this pass fire season. Some argue: we need to cut down more trees, to prevent fires, save our force and even more verse, climate change, but you also have people arguing the opposite that our history of logging is part of the problem and we need
cut down fewer trees, so supposedly the same goal, but completely opposite ways of getting their confuse. Well, really understand you have to step back thirty years to win this fight over the force began today. Would partnering with the podcast series timber wars produced by Oregon. Public broadcasting is about have a fight over old grow force, and a bird called the Northern spotted owl help turn environmental conflict into cultural. Wars that continue to shape the debate over how we manage our force today, reporter Aaron Scott starts the story with a protest
that became known as the Easter massacre? The Pacific Northwest has an image for many folks. It's one shaped by episodes of Portland India. You know lots of Subaru whose branch lines and flannel also nineties grunge music and tech giants. Like Microsoft and Amazon, but before all that the Pacific Northwest with sleepier place a damp corner of the country, largely outside the nationals light, it was a region dominated by a single industry. Logging I started in the timber industry is basically out of high school Stephan, Weaver lives and state in Oregon for a lot of his life. He worked as a tree. Foller also called the timber cutter. Basically, it was his job to cut down colossal
these with a chainsaw and shout timber little pride. What you did some up. Ninety nine percent of the timber cutters did there was that one or two percent, or do sir for the bank, but some of the best timber cutters came out of the Detroit Canyon, Detroit Canyon, is inside organs, Willamette National Forest, its home to some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world, Douglas FIR western Red Cedar, western hemlock. They can tower three hundred feet into the air and stand eight feet wide. They feel like pillars holding up the sky, which is maybe my folks who them. Disappearing felt like the sky was falling were really all started was northward,
sailing, it's impossible to pin down exactly when the timber worse started, because there are different beginning for everyone involved for Stephan. It was in nineteen, eighty nine in these forests at a timber, sale com, the north roaring devil through a lot of things, a little back in March of nineteen. Eighty nine Detroit Canyon was blanket in snow still. Steffens bosses wanted him in there Cutting we were soon will be led him. We'd have to make two or three trips in all between now and does snowmobiles, but there was just a mass, the EU s foreign service makes up names for the various timber sales the trees Stephan was cutting were parted. The sale called the north roaring devil and it was controversial. That's a lot of why who is riding into those woods by snowmobile.
They didn't want to plough the roads. So these other people, walk or driving by other people. means environmentalist. They had been fighting in court to stop the logging of the giant centuries old trees. Stephan was under pressure to get the job done. Fast Saturday, night before Easter, Jim Morgan called me up. Jim Morgan was Steffens boss of one of the biggest timber companies and the canyon, and he said I need ten men. I need him tomorrow morning, Sunday morning I said is Easter Jim. He says I don't care. I want ten cutters and the morning then you'll be compensated very well for somewhat was with the rush. Well, there was a court did on Tuesday and there is fear. The judge could side with environmentalists and put this logging on hold. So the followers were racing to cut
the trees? First, we do not want to lose on the ground. It was kind of a done deal so an Easter morning, Stephan in his crew, got up before dawn, piled into their trucks, pulling snowmobiles and headed into the woods where they with the surprise. Logging crews arrived at five thirty this morning to find thirty protestors, who sealed off the entrance to the site so protestors. We're standing shoulder to shoulder across the road Building, sign stating save our old growth and earth. First, the law stars ties, and this the media, was there to this morning. Confrontations possible. But both sides chose to talk about the issues rather than fight over them now
This is kind of a it's, not that it's not here. This argument for divergent. Do you think I got a true man, I'm paying be productive in the news footage. You can see Stephanie standing in the group of lawyers and he looks annoying industrial insurance. We could talk to them and they could talk or view were dramatically different about the situation, so at that time there wasn t there wasn't any middle ground. They just didn't want that timber card they didn't want any timber cut. Stephan in the loggers had been hired to cut the trains, but they weren't the protesters real target. That was the logging companies that bought the timber and the? U S for a service which made the sale. Many people today might think the forest services
all about taking care of for us, but its main job at the time, particularly in the northwest, with selling trees to the highest bidder. For most of the twentieth century, foresters in the government viewed trees as crops. The plan was to harvest the last of these ancient giants and replant them with saplings, but for protesters. These trees had a sweetly different value. I drove here and eighty five and all I knew about oregon- was that there were lumberjacks in big trees. So I stopped and found love at that and never left. Katya Giuliano moved to you, Jim for college. The city was a hotbed for liberal activism. The day before Easter, she went to a non violence, training and, just as it was ending someone rushed in and said they needed people to protect some ancient trees, so cut
volunteered we arrived about midnight and it was full on stuff was happening. There is people with walkie talkie. Greeting ass activists have been fighting for years to stop logging in this area. It included groves of ancient trees that were so beautiful, folks, thought of them and sacred terms. Referring to them is cathedral forests and they were willing to put their lives on the line to protect them, because scientists had started establish what many nature lovers already felt. These were not just crops, we're complex ecosystems, the played vital roles, filtering water and slowing floods and providing essential habitat for hundreds of creatures from songbirds to salmon trees also reduce. greenhouse gases by pulling carbon dioxide out of the air and storing it in their trunks and needles, and the biggest one percent of trees store fifty percent of the forest carbon.
But, of course knowing you want to save the trees is different from knowing how to do it. The Cartier it was overwhelming one person who stood up and started talking about making a strategic plan to to really get some stuff accomplish in it sounded, reasonable size. Like I resigned MAC I around and ended up being TIM Tim Ingoldsby was a graduate student who worked as a fire fighter for the foreign service in the summer, not to give away the ending of a story, but he and Cartier now married and is with us in their living room. Tim had heard about the logging through friends, he knew the being there was risking his summer job, but he couldn't handle what the clear cuts did to the forest. Those are the proverbial move
Scapes is just nothing but your scorched earth this. This is now. I want to work for the forests are, as I want to do, for a service, and this is quite the opposite. So the night before Easter, while Statham was calling his cutters tin, was helping led the resistance all they had to do is hold off the loggers two or three, days until other environmentalists could file an injunction against the timber sail in court and if they can lay the trees down for the case when the court, the judge, would, The case Cassio mean yeah, you might have and in an illegal timber sale began or the trees we stood back up. so we call it the time. Chainsaw justice chain saw justice, meaning the Bloggers chain saws got to be judge, jury and executioner. The protesters stayed up all night, dragging fallen logs and rocks from the forest and piling them on that.
anything that would slow down the logging trucks and snowmobiles come mourner laws. They can build a wall between the two failures cause. We build these immense barricades and when dawns rising to see the work Ok, the longest will never get to you that in the loggers didn't they actually went home that first day after talking with the protesters. But then the forest service showed up with a front and loader thing, and within minutes, smash the handiwork of all of us that did hours to build when they came and with the machinery I realized. I was a little out of my depth and I got very scared, so I just ran up the road and I I do it. I was gonna, find I ended up finding work. This man LEO in the middle ivy road trying to bury himself in this pyramid of rocks in history
Let me help me help me buried relatives neck in a barricade of boulders, and that is what held off that front. Loader Emmy did the blade came right up to intimidate, but he couldn't moved so eventually for that threats that day, army carried out by the deputy set to where they are the rocks and pulling LEO deputies arrested him in twelve others on disorderly conduct that day, but his word spread more people arrive to take their place. Similar actions have been taken place all through the eighties button very remote places, but just a handful of people this is at brightened. Bush has brings on the doorstep of Portland, so there were dozens and dozens of people come here. news, we're gonna go, say the forest, despite the reinforcements teeming Katya, still felt like they were up against the unstoppable juggernaut of the timber industry and the federal government
are we this little ragged band of individuals with very little resources How are we going to stop this terrible machine? That's really in the span of just a few years, taking the very last parts of the forest. The irony of human psychology is that, while the environmentalist felt like they were the proverbial David in the fight against Goliath, the local loggers and their families felt that way to rightly or wrongly, they saw these scrappy protesters as representatives of big national environmental groups, groups that were about to put all future timber sales in national forest on hold all across
North West, so for the loggers it was like, their very existence was under attack, stolen what are you doing? I wanted to know what was at stake in the fight over the forests besides the old gruff, so I went to see staff who is higher decode the trees of dirty work turn up back at the shed where he stores his chainsaws. This is pretty much a smaller sauce to use its bright orange and the size of what you the hardware store. Thirty two inch bar that's: what were you? every day, little if any reaches into the back of the shed any pulls out a big white mechanical box with two handles it so big, I would have guessed it was a portable generator, but it's actually the body of his first chain so I'm a color one. Twenty five, it's just me.
I saw a bar or the long steel plate that the chain whips around it cut into the trees. I could run fifty and bore for football. Pretty military should clean downplaying impetus and is that about his big, A bar is wherever used, we some bigger ones. Some sixty inch bars occasionally for imagine that for a minute, a chainsaw, that's big enough to get on all the rights at Disneyland. How bigotry needs a five? long chain saw, but I've got a picture than your show yourself. Some big trees are now Stephan, takes me back inside and opens a picture album of the trees they cut at the north. Throwing devil sail the photo show a couple of loggers and helmet. red suspenders, standing on top of a fallen log through enormous his sitting on a treaty that is, its colours, are way. Do that you
maintaining a trees that is as wide as you are tall. Oh yeah. There was some huge timber observers from I've seventy eight for all the storm. That means eight feet wide at the base, these with a kind of trees, stuffing cut all through the seventies and eighties. He spent free day in the woods rain or shine, sicker injured. What did you love about it? back then I liked being outdoors fished in few feel a feeling of freedom, Albert because you might work for somebody else, but when you're out their work in your area boss. You also made good money without needing a college degree, twenty three years old, I was making between twenty five and thirty dollars year in Hell. I thought I was
really make a big money, and tomorrow is the economic life blood of all the small towns and the sandy, I'm canyon and many of the small towns throughout the northwest. If you didn't have a job at the Miller and the woods you had a family member or a neighbor who did, and your kids probably played on a baseball team sponsored by the local timber company. It was a good It was a good feeling in the seventies and eighties we ve figured We can do is forever Stephan planned a log until he retired he even build up a business that employed nearly thirty cutters, but environmentalists wanted to keep Stephan from ever cutting trees again early, these ancient once so back at the north wearing devil sale when the loggers returned on the second morning, their wives and families came out port, their mingle. With
During the protesters message to the news cameras online on our tables for both sides, the clock was ticking. The judge would decide whether to halt the logging the next day. So the question was: would there be any trees left standing for him to rule on the loggers in law enforcement started The final stretch ploughed road led by the forest services front and loader we're gonna win in care homes together, because these people were Besides the road not been held this one guy, he look up off the side of the road got right in my face, and there was some blood and then spit in my face too, and I was mad and I stopped to pick up and Jim Morgan says this
here- take it- I said- uses- don't know how hard it is to take. Meanwhile, TIM knew they couldn't stop the convoy. So he ran up the road into the deeper snow the loggers would have to continue on snowmobiles and then one by one other people start join me and we say Let us make our stand here and that that the moment we for the wine of snow real, so we just held hands like paper dolls spread out cross road and sure enough. It was a snowball carrying the county sheriff staying up on the back and jobs. of his as you are all under arrest, any actually handcuffed us together holding hands and it was the most bizarre more because he's just back in
There is always one of me in five or six years, when you're all hand, got together and still blocking the road so The sheriffs had been doing all the arrests up to that point in the forest services out of the camera view stand behind, but that requires a bunch of foresters. People, too, We lay down the snow and they had a dream I guess out to me I was a shocking the links that the I was going to try to pre empt the court case. Nobody was just kind of a mad rush to get those trees cut down on Tuesday. Today after the protest started, a federal judge. You heard the environmentalist challenge like many justices in Oregon, he was widely regarded, is sympathetic to the industry, so his ruling came as no surprise.
The federal district judge in Portland Oregon today rejected a request by conservationists that he block logging damned of centuries old trees protestors. Trying to slow the logging they experimented with climbing into the branches and locking themselves around the trunks and a human chain with by clocks. But eventually Stephan and the other loggers finnish cutting down the remaining true which is why environmentalist took the calling it the Easter massacre, but, unlike the smaller protests that had come before this tonne, the nation painted the north roaring devil sale got covered by the likes of good morning, America, the today an MP are loggers and environmentalists and Oregon are locked in a battle over a stand of ancient trees. The bugaboo tat was the first time that is public opinion radically shift
we weren't a bunch of eco terrorists. In the woods we were upholding the law and in all defending what was it. I suppose it is really the action that put or growth logging in ancient forests on the map. It really helped form the move and inform our tactics. These tactics would just the, environmentalist had an ace of this leave that would prove more powerful than a hundred protesters in the Woods environmentalists arc. used up. Turning the endangered species act into a terrorist weapon to alas, the timber industry. How now swoon then to save the trees and reshape the timber industry. That's a head on
Real, hey, hey, hey! This is AL, and I don't know if you know it or not, but reveal is a non profit news organization, and that means we rely on support from listeners. Like you become a member by texting. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven standard data rates apply and you can text stop at any time. Again. Text reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven thanks for supporting the show from the centre for investigative reporting, MP or Ex. This is reveal a valid throughout the eighties environmentalists, Kepler
they could slow down. Logging in old growth, forests with protests and law suits, but in the inn most of it got cut their this word that many laws that protected trees, but there were laws that protected animals so with the last old grow force on the line. A few conservationists got creative, Aaron's God from the timber wars podcast an organ public break
testing picks it out from here environmentalist like they say there is an endangered ecosystems act, but there is an endangered species act, so this idea started percolating that they could protect the old growth forests by protecting an animal that needed those forests to survive. Fortunately, for them, scientists had identified one such animal. The northern spotted owl the timber industry recognised how dangerous this idea was and tried to nip it in the bud, so it laid on the pressure with politicians, government agencies even cancer, patient groups like the National Wildlife Federation. The warehouse her company had threatened to close all of its lands to hunters and fishermen nation wide, so that was somewhat persuasive. because the national, while I federation at that time, was mostly hunters and fishermen. This is Andy stall.
He worked for the National Wildlife Federation and he was one of the first to want. pursue a strategy, saving the northern spotted our, but his bosses wanted him to drop it so bad they fired him. They fired me Friday. They re hired me the following Monday, subject to the following constraints: you're: to make no outgoing phone calls, you are to sign no correspondence Europe to attend. No meetings weakened you to pay you to do nothing at all. Three since environmentalist were afraid of going after the owl were complicated. First off they were worried that they lose and then they wouldn't have any leverage, even if it was just the threat of going to court, but in many ways winning was an even bigger fear, especially if they use the endangered Species ACT, because what The act was past almost unanimously. The perception was that it was designed to protect big beloved animals, Baldy Eagles blue whales,
things like that. The fear among leading conservationists was that stretching it to apply to things like tiny fish, reclusive birds might get them what they want in the short term. But the backlash could lead to the death of the law. There were concerns that these it all was a bridge too far and that it would be. Down the whole endangered species act and envy, Our mental ism writ large would die but ass, he thought he saw a way to protect the owl without putting a target on the endangered species act. So he went to work for the Sierra Club. Legal defence fund we now know it is earth justice and they decided to go straight at the agency that power over most of the remaining all growth, the EU s Foreign Service At the time. The forest service was saying that you only needed five hundred nesting pairs of ours to maintain genetic diversity and each pair needed a thousand acres.
So do the math and you are. going to protect the most five hundred thousand acres. That's just one percent of the forest land around where spotted owls lived and that lift Andy with a question. What is the best, so for saying that five hundred pairs of spotted Adele's were sufficient to maintain a sustainable population. did. I read: it was based on a study of fruit flies. Over five hundred was remarkable? Had a government document of forest service documents said five hundred parentheses, personal communication M Souffle persons may now? Is it that was that that was the authoritative citation for saying five hundred why didn't know who am sleigh was ellipses almost this us before Google I looked round.
Turned out. It was a guy named Michael's delay at the University of California at Santa Cruz, so called him up. I said you ve been cited as the authority behind protecting five hundred pairs of spotted else. What should be a substantial reduction from the current number said? I have. I never said that what did you say, Michael well, The forest service called me up and we talked a bit and I told them that they should go. Look at a paper that a colleague of mine wrote in which he studied fruit fly. The meeting in a jar and found that, if you have five hundred fruit flies
They are randomly meeting in the jar and that's a sufficiently large population to prevent a particular bristle. Hair mutation from becoming fixed in the poppy patient and taking over. I asked Michael what does that have to do with spotted house? He said nothing at all has nothing to do with spotted owls, so five hundred pair came from a leap of logic straight out of a great biology. It was junk, but Andy couldn't hot logging until he had a better number anew and had done that site. And he would have to find someone and put them on the case across countries eventually led him to the evolutionary biologist, Russell Landy in Maine Irene we're sitting in a lobster shack on the coast of made an Russ says: I've been thinking about your owl question, any grabs, a butter, soaked paper napkin and starts riding formulas on it.
is all Greek to me and he says it all. This is how I go about solving. It starts explaining to me- and I was really quite elegant what he done. What Russell Landy had done was built on the math that one of his professors had developed for the Farm bureau to help eliminate pass. Basically, is professor had modeled how many bugs you had to kill the wipe out an infestation such that the bug population couldn't recover in recalling eyes prop. What did was he took that mathematics inflicted on its head? But if you ran the numbers, the other direction, you could figure out how many hours you needed to keep alive in order to ensure that they recovered and and ionized the forest. All the variables were based
play the same, you needed to know how far an animal will travel to made their odds of finding each other and their reproduction and survival rates plug that into the equation, and you can figure out how much forest you need to be confident that every time an owl dies, a new one is born Land is math showed that ours is a whole, couldn't survive in a landscape and less about a quarter of it was mature old forest and that men, if we wanted to kill The owl alive we'd have to stop cutting or growth almost immediately so in nineteen, eighty nine they filed in it. Junction. Against the? U S forest service, I walked up the hill,
downtown Seattle to the federal District Court House walked into the clerks office and presented it to her. She looked at the caption done. She said I had been expecting this. This was a complicated last year on its face It was about spotted owls, but it was really about all growth, but it was really really about finding out whether the government was breaking the law or the law itself was broken. The first law in court Jim was the National Environmental Policy act. Its main requirement is that the government tell the truth and disclosed the consequences of its decisions: team, Andy's contention, by under playing the spotted Alice population requirements by sticking to the number five hundred it wasn't telling the truth, the other
after the lawsuit was based on another law, the National Forest Management ACT, and it says the planned to adopt for managing these forests has to protect the survival, the viability of all native vertebrate species. The core of their argument hung on just this one sentence, but it gave all the power to scientists. Not politicians are timber, executives did a term and what constitutes a viable population and basically men. You can't knowingly drive and animal to extinction. We said, look these plans. Do it because spotted ours are not fruit flies soon. So what was the ruling yeah? The ruling was the problem injunction granted, the ruling was like a bomb that exploded across the northwest.
The EU s Foreign service who stopped all timber sales in thirteen national forests in Oregon in Washington. The decision effects nearly five billion board feat of timber, and it was Just one decision, the Sierra Club Legal Defence Fund also filed lawsuits against the Bureau of Land management in the? U S fish and wildlife service by the time, They were done. All three agencies had to step up their owl protections and that meant pudding most new timber sales in federal forests on hold there used to be a time when all growth force stretched across parts of the Middle EAST Europe and most of the U S, but people cut them down so long ago. That most of us Don't even remember they were there. This was the last chance to see the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest, but it came at a cost when you go from
been allowed to slip in hand, where's down Mcdonald's, it wasn't very good deal. That's next on reveal. Do you want to know more about how we do what we do with our weekly newsletter? Takes you behind the scenes. Our investigations changed, we like to say it. The world be among the first to read them just text newsletter, two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven. You can text stop. At any time. Standard data rates apply again text newsletter, two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven- from the centre for investigative reporting and p r eggs. This is reveal annihilated. If we were all at a map of the Pacific Northwest- and you put your finger down on Any of the national force chances are that
in the nineteen eightys, the nearest small towns depended on timber from that forest. Earlier in the show. We told you about the Easter Masker, where a stand of old growth trees was cut down. New organs, Willamette National Force- if you would have put your finger down there, the biggest near by, tat would be no city where really the name says at all, so winning came to saving or growth forests and the animals that live in them? It meant that places like mill city would pay a price. Here's organ public broadcasting reporter Aaron Scott again I was that if you wanted to talk to some of the old timer Sue logged in the eighties during the end of the old growth bonanza, you should head to the mountain cafe at five p m. Thursday. At this hour the places empty, except for one table in the corner this: is the Roma Club written
Oh man out this week's meeting of the Romeo club counts to retired loggers, one retired mill manager, one retired butcher, and to retired from an foresters. The group is sitting around a big circular table waiting for their food and true to form. There's a lot flannel and suspenders to go around along. If you guys been meeting here on Thursdays ten years more now there's been a coffee shop discussion table since I moved here- and seventy four- and I know What's going on before that, but back then it wasn't just retired guys in its heyday mill city had a couple cafes languages. There would be full of loggers first thing in the morning stopping in to fill up on coffee and eggs
the way into the woods. You know everybody was here at least one day a week and it changed it changed. Now. The loggers in the black and white photos hanging on the wall outnumber the ones getting breakfast and that decline began with those first court rulings in nineteen. Eighteen Did you feel like it changed the forest cover up overnight? Always it gradually reducing incidents should happen. Meal was over an instant, isn't a huge exaggeration. The protests in court ruling over the owl all came within months of each other like a landslide, suddenly crashing down on the community and a pr battle was waged in the media. When that many folks and timber communities felt like they were losing to a bunch of old tree, is an scruffy environmentalist, so pro timber groups began to put our pamphlets and press release
and organise rallies and towns up and down the northwest. If there was a court hearing, they were outside it with signs. If there was a political event, they were circling. The block with their luggage, a crowd of over eight thousand people, Gm Pioneer Courthouse Square and down how important for a protest rally. From all around the staple Medea to put has proposed, marking had backed talking about job right, ok, but does not often doc. Where does also, there is also the future to right. Now, it's important have improbable with this out their say and that this is a problem, but it wasn't just loggers verses, environmentalists, whirl, verses, urban, the timber wars started splitting small towns apart to and no inexperienced it.
More than Sherry Gerard. My office, sherry runs a nonprofit mill city that deals with everything from domestic violence, the cancelling out of work loggers. She comes from a third generation timber family and her husband, Jim Gerard owns a local grocery store he was riding bicycles across the United States with his son for dorm Becker Hospital. Somebody went and put out the rumour that he was a part of the eco terrorists and Would anybody shop his store just because you a bicycle writings, because he liked basic, writing that something that they do. it was a war. You are either on one side or you were on the other side so sharing.
Jumped into action. She printed up tee shirts for the staff. That said, we support the timber industry. She called the millowners and reassured them her husband was on their side. She even spoke at a rally about how the community needed to stand together and not turn on each other and leaf got it settled? It's almost mind, boggling me that they would be so focused on even just one Now, with the idea that oh, you might be sympathetic, people were hurting that bad and they were that scared and they were there set, and they were looking for somebody to blame. If anybody on our side, then you were dead. Lay the enemy, but one scapegoat rose above everything else. The northern spotted owl, just as it became the mass got an illegal linchpin for the environmental ass. It became a symbol of every
the logging communities hated and feared. I dont think any of us want to see this bottle now become extinct, but If its answer the owl, then I don't care what happens doing folk started, making bumper sticker Isn T shirts. That said things like save a logger eat an owl and spotted our tastes like check. If you thought it was the twenty five cent drafts that brought this crowd to the town tavern this evening, you're wrong. These loggers came for the spotted our dinner special virtual The lesson endangered species are worrying me because I'm an endangered species. Of course the meat really was chicken.
But remember how some environmentalist didn't even want to try to list the spotted owl under the endangered species act because they feared it could backfire on the law and the do a distract from the fight to protect. The ancient forests. Well kind. It did the? U S, vision, wildlife service finally listed the northern spotted owl is through and on June twenty second nineteen. Ninety and the backlash was immediate. Environmentalists are accused of turning the endangered species act into a terrorist weapon kill off the timber industry. Just use it as an ordinary learning to shut. It feels like this in the in Oregon in Washington now area, if nothing more than a glorified via now. The irony is that the UN
injured. Species ACT wasn't really what locked up the old growth to begin with. It was the other somewhat confusing environmental laws that Andy Stall and the Sierra Club Legal Defence fund used, but for some reason everyone has always blamed the endangered species, fact. Maybe who is the fear that it would also lock up private forests and maybe the fact that instead of playing out and legal briefs in court rooms, it played out on nightly news and in public hearings as the Reagan ambush administrations fought against their own scientists and judges in a multi year. Tug of war over whether or not the list, the bird they had the hearings and add earrings further sputtered o thing Tom Pencil was one of the retired loggers around table at the Romeo club. I went to see him afterwards at his home waded in line for two hours to testify.
Get in there and no covered the panel that really made me and half of or there were sleeping now because it so many poor, testifying to me all day. He probably is: I was invited, maybe more than a thousand when I got up thirty Cheshire Are you prepared to have a decent seed, a lease wake up and lessen governance, meter, begone or sleeping well again that didn't you very big, but it didn't change sense of not having any say over your own future. That sense of not I'm being listened to when you're asking for help that festers and roads this case it turn the endangered species act into the poster child for government overreach status. It holds to this day because never but I had the protection of a single animal affected, so many people,
actually a motley out that hides in the dank forest like a criminal, so the indeed dude species. I became the villain that got all the blame, just as environmentalists feared calls to repeal it echoed all the way from phase a mill city to the White House? I will not sign and extension of the endangered species act unless it gives greater consideration to jobs, to families and communities. It is time to make people more simple. then owls, while conservative politicians have never succeeded in getting rid of the endangered species act. The backlash to it did win one major victory for the timber industry. being portrayed as the villains, cutting down America's last ancient forests, the fucking side managed to flip the script so that they were the underdogs
now owls verses, loggers in the Pacific Northwest, as they made their case. Both sides were throwing all sorts of numbers around two hundred and fifty thousand jobs and the where Mental as colleagues figures by the National Forest Products Association. Outrageous, exactly how many jobs are at stake is a matter of course. Honourable dispute, ten fifteen percent. That's all but it was a lot more complicated than ours versus jobs. The timber industry was already undergoing massive changes that had nothing to do with the owl. An economic recession in the early nineteen eighties drove a lot of mills out of business and those that survived adopted new technology The resulted in even more lay offs in the nineteen seventies, it took seven mill workers to turn a million board feat of logs into lumber, and today's modern computerized mills, the same about of timber, creates two jobs or less
the recession hammered the final nail in the coffin of what had once been thriving timber unions in the northwest, and then there is the issue of exports timber companies. Exporting raw logs overseas without milling them here, first, which meant they were exporting those mill jobs to somewhere curse, including those who have already lost their jobs, say the real power home is in exporting raw logs. Well I'll tell you what it is real over the course of the 80s, even before the owl timber jobs that in once paid a premium turned into average wage jobs, just like the changes that were reshaping. Other industries like farming, mining and manufacturing, but there's one big difference: the timber
industry was able to pin most of its problems on the spot it out an environmentalist, because the owl did hurt the industry after the government came up with a plan to protect this bottle. Owl and other old growth dependent species, logging in federal forests dropped by more than eighty percent, decimated a lot of community. This is Stephan Weaver again. The longer we met at the beginning of the hour was Ruben doubt on me, I mean I I went from the site is having a good job to no job for a while, but self open Well, I didn't I was. I was really mad at the world. men late. Ninety, sir, I can hated everybody that didn't like the trees to be cut in one year ago,
from being a longer makes forty thousand dollars a year, maybe back and fifty to flip. In Hamburg, down nutgalls, it wasn't very good deal whether it was a good deal or not depends largely on where you call home today. A third of timber towns are economically worse off, but a third have stayed the same in part because there's still a massive amount of logging happening on private land. Another third are better off than before, because they have managed to play off the beauty of the national forest around them to attract tourism, recreation and new businesses. As for the timber wars, they didn't end they just evolved now. Instead of fighting over just all growth, forests were fighting over. All the forests
They play play a huge role in combating climate change, forests and storing carbon. They regulate unfiltered drinking water and many of the animals that depend on them like the spotted owl or even more threatened. ever so now. Environmentalist want to protect all publicly owned forests, not just the old ones, but we are also fighting over them because their burning one side, things to make things better We should be cutting more trains and putting out fires. The other side logging in suppressing the fires that historically burn. These forests has made things worse. The timber industry and environmentalists are still operating with two completely different world views. That old saying you can't see the forest for the trees. Well, here
the fight feels even more basic. The two sides can't even agree on what a forest is or what it's for or, most importantly, what's our role in it after decades of fighting the battle so the same, but the stakes are even higher. Today show came to us from the podcast timber. Wars is from Oregon public broadcast.
and his explores so much more about the wonders of the force and the consequences of this battle. You can find timber wars wherever you get your podcast, it will change the way you see forests. This episode was supported by air and Scott and produce why Aaron Peter Frick, bright and Robbie Carver David sees at yard and bread, Myers Edison, to show fact checking by mad Giles. For our cable audio. Thanks to NPR and the K easy. I tv chambers, communication, corporation collection at the University of Oregon libraries, special thanks to NPR storyline Victoria Vranitzky, is our general Council, our production Manders annual stuff Laura my favorite Gibson compose the music for They show sound designed by Robbie cover an audio engineering by Stephen Crane, along with J breezy. Jim Briggs man, though my man, Yo Aruba, Breadth Simpson, is our production system. Our digital
user, Sarah Merk Arsenius, Christine Schonberg met Thompson, is our editor in chief in our executive producer is Kevin. Solving our theme, music is by Colorado, lightning. support for reveals provided by the Raven David Logan Foundation, the John D and Catherine Macarthur Foundation, the Jonathan, in family foundation. The Ford Foundation, the hiding Simons Foundation for Democracy Fund and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal is a co production of the centre for investigative reporting and p r x amount lesson and remember. There is always more to the story.
Transcript generated on 2021-04-06.