Saving the Owls, the Forests, and the Loggers

Article excerpt

The larger view is missing from the article "What to Do About the Spotted Owl and Logging," Sept. 16, which portrays the controversy as one between local people and economies on one hand and spotted owls and environmentalists on the other.

What is at stake is a complex ecosystem. In less than 100 years, our culture has clear-cut more than 90 percent of these ancient forests. Our "replacement" has been tree farms, which provide raw materials for industry, but are no replacement for many species of wildlife dependent on the complex web of life, growth, death, and decay represented in the dynamic ecosystem we are clear-cutting.

The article says that "University of Washington researchers predicted severe social and political strain if courts and federal agencies sharply cut back logging to protect the spotted owl." But at current harvest rates, loggers will cut all remaining ancient forests in about a decade. Then "severe social and political strain" will have to be faced with no one - owl or environmentalist - to blame other than this generation's greedy race to cash in on one more ecological treasure.

We should offer generous economic adjustment aid to effected workers and communities and protect this remnant of earth's natural majesty - before our greed adds one more shame to our children's dwindling natural inheritance. Don Arnosti, St. Paul, Minn.

The northern spotted owl is merely a convenient scapegoat for politicians and US Forest Service officials who refuse to admit that the real problem in the region's national forests is bad decisions and poor forest management. The owl, listed as a threatened species, is a barometer of the health of the ecosystem and that of the more than 150 species of wildlife which depend on ancient forests as their primary habitat. The northern spotted owl is not the problem, he is merely the messenger.

The Forest Service and members of the Northwest's congressional delegation have ignored the Endangered Species Act and National Forest Management Act for years, and as a consequence the forests of the Northwest are now a shredded fragment of what they used to be. …