Moral capital

I, too, enjoyed Jennifer Sherman’s interesting and authoritative piece on Golden Valley in the spring edition. I winced a bit, however, at the “in large part due to the 1992 spotted owl ruling” but, because her story seemed directed toward effects of economic collapse, not causes, I did not write. Then came the summer issue with Gordon Pilcher’s leap from “in large part” to apparently placing all blame for employment loss on owl protection.

The issue was not that simple. As a reporter for The Oregonian in Washington, D.C., from 1989 to 1993 I had a close-up view at what we dubbed “the spotted owl wars”—bombarded from both sides with enough rhetoric for a decade of political campaigns and enough press releases to have consumed all the spotted owl forests.

Yes, environmentalists did seek Endangered Species Act protection for the owls, but it was never all about the owls. The underlying issue was whether—or how much—of the Northwest’s old growth forests should be allowed to remain as old growth. Along with that was the issue of clear cutting vs. selective, or sustainable, logging.

Nor was forest protection the entire issue in job losses. During the controversy a report from academia (Oregon State University’s forestry school, I believe) delved into the background of declining employment in the timber industry. It cited as a major factor the mechanization of the industry, especially in the lumber mills. Another factor leading to lower mill (though not woods) employment was the export of raw logs. And yes, environmental issues also were involved.

However, the timber industry did a masterful public relations job in convincing both the public and its employees that the entire loss of jobs was the result of those nasty environmentalists and damned owls. During this same period one company, having cut all its timber in the Oregon Cascades, fired all its employees, closed and demolished its company town and went back down South to faster growing trees, leaving a denuded patch in Oregon.

Eventually almost everyone began to realize that Northwest forests could not sustain unlimited logging forever. The battles over where and how much logging continue and the issues are still a lot more complex than a little bird vs. humans.

Roberta (Bobbie) Tucker Ulrich ’50
Beaverton, OR

Back in the earth

Regarding John R. Smoot’s comment about “Back in the Earth” (Summer 2011): Both Smoot and the original statement are incorrect. The Columbia River at Hanford is not “free-flowing” nor “deep under the backwaters of the dams.” The Hanford Reach can be correctly described as unimpounded. The flow is highly regulated by 10 upstream dams.

Duane A. Neitzel ’82

The things we do for our dogs

I dearly loved reading every word of this touching, heart warming article by Hannelore Sudermann. We are currently a two-cat family, though we had two dogs at one time. At his age, my husband doesn’t think he wants the responsibility of owning another dog, but I am ready to rush out and adopt one this minute!

The photos of the dogs and guardians are wonderful, as well! So good to see Darcie Wolfe’s human and canine family after reading about them!

Thanks for making my day!

Sonya (Huang) Lee ’58
El Cerrito, CA

Correction: “The Perfect Hunt”

Our attribution for Patrick McManus’s story “The Perfect Hunt” in the Summer 2011 WSM was incomplete. It should have read: From KERPLUNK! by Patrick F. McManus. Copyright 2007 by Patrick F. McManus. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.