Is this the future of America’s national forests, or will Congress wake up before it is too late?
On snowy December nights back in the Forties my father often took me for sleigh rides after dinner. He seemed like he was ten feet tall, his silhouette trudging out ahead of me in the darkness and his gloved hand reaching back to grip my sled's towrope.
More than 60 winters have come and gone since he last pulled me behind my sled but I can still see him there in the shadows, his long and confident stride our only power. And I can still hear my sled's runners gliding quietly over new fallen snow.
He would pull me down the middle of Mission Avenue, past the Park's, the Tam's and Bottinelli's, the Corbell's and the Brainard's, all the way to Mrs. Fattu's house. Once there, we would always stop to watch snowflakes emerge from the darkness into the soft illumination of the street light at the corner of Mission and Hill. Then back up Mission we would go.
Sparkling Christmas lights strung on icy eves, down porch railings and around frosted windows cast red, green, yellow and blue reflections across snowy yards, and tree branches laden with new fallen snow glistened in the chilly night air.
Snow berms taller than me hid sidewalks that I knew were there, muffling the sounds of passing cars. Approaching headlights became retreating taillights; then silence again, broken only by the sound of my sled runners and the steady cadence of my father's snow-covered galoshes.
On some nights it was so quiet that I was sure I could hear snowflakes landing all around us, but Dad always assured me that it was just my imagination. How to explain that even now, when I close my eyes, I can hear snow falling through the night sky?
I suppose there were other fathers out there in the darkness, clutching towropes, but I do not see or hear them in my mind's eye - only Dad, me, and my American Flyer.
Now both of them are gone: first my Flyer sometime in the Fifties, and then, too soon thereafter, Dad. As gently as falling snow he slipped quietly into the Darkness on a December night in 1986. And now only memory connects us, and it is me who reaches back for him on snowy nights.
I recently ran across an old photograph that reminded me why Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. It is in one of a dozen or so photo albums my mother lovingly assembled that chronicle my growing up years. She dated every photograph she ever took. Her inscription here reads, "Thanksgiving 1954."
Mother was the family photographer, which explains why most of the photos in which she appears were taken by me after I was old enough to be entrusted with the Kodak she bought in September of 1936, the week she started her first teaching job in a one room school house in Virginia City, Montana.
Dad never took pictures, although he had a beautiful Zeiss Ikon that his boyhood friend, Marvin Clark, had removed from the body of a dead German soldier on June 7, 1944 somewhere near Pointe du Hoc on France's Normandy coast. I know this date only because Marvin had climbed the cliffs above Omaha Beach the day before, amid withering German machine gun fire.
Last July 9, Wall Street Journal columnist, Bret Stephens, posed the question headlined above: Can environmentalists think?
His column concerned environmentalist reaction to a July 6 train derailment and fire at Lac-Megantic, Quebec, about 20 miles north of the Maine border. Forty-seven lives were lost and more than half the small community's downtown business district was destroyed in the explosion and fire that followed the derailment of multiple tank cars carrying North Dakota crude oil destined for an Irving Oil Companyrefinery at St. Johns, New Brunswick.
Stephens feigned surprise that environmentalists weren't howling about the derailment, which spilled some 26,000 gallons of crude oil into the Chaudiere River, a tributary of the mighty St. Lawrence.He correctly guessed they wouldn't say much because saying much of anything would have exposed the hypocrisy of their flat out opposition to the construction of new oil pipelines, a much safer way to transport oil than by rail. Stephens thus asks, "Can environmentalists think?"
"There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down
For What It's Worth
Buffalo Springfield, 1967
Stephen Stills, lyrics
I was 23 when Buffalo Springfield recorded "For What It's Worth." The year was 1967, Vietnam was raging, and the whole damned country was in turmoil. The war shredded the generational fabric of oursociety in ways that have thus far made its mending impossible.
Although we are the best fed, best housed and most affluent nation in history, we are even more restless, directionless and unhappy than we were then. As Buffalo Springfield guitarist, Stephen Stillswrote 46 years ago, "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."
by: Jim Petersen, Founder & Executive Director, The Evergreen Foundation
I never cease to be amazed by life's unexpected twists and turns. This afternoon, I listened in on a web press conference hosted by Cal Joyner, the Forest Services' Southwest Region Regional Forester, and the Four Forest Restoration Initiative [4FRI], a regional collaborative that we know well because of our years of advocacy for thinning dead and dying trees from the Southwest's federally owned firetraps, otherwise known as national forests.
The subject was a changing of the guard within the 4FRI restoration project - at 300,000 acres the largest such project ever undertaken by the U.S. Forest Service. Pioneer Forest Resources, based in Billings, Montana, has been the designated contractor for this project for several years, but the company has been unable to secure the financing needed to build necessary wood processing infrastructure in northern Arizona.
Enter Good Earth Power AZ LLC, an apparently deep-pocketed and politically well-connected company based in - of all unlikely places - the Sultanate of Oman. In the category of strange twists and turns, this is one of the strangest I've ever seen.
by Jim Petersen, Founder and Executive Director, The Evergreen Foundation
It is 5:00 AM in any given time zone across these United States. While many are hitting the snooze alarm, or enjoying their first cup of coffee, a dedicated group of professionals is already on the job. They are America's loggers, harvesters of the timber that will eventually make its way into every American home in the form of building materials, the morning newspaper, paper towels, an egg carton, cereal box or those two time-honored morning rituals: brushing teeth or, well, you know.
Thousands of everyday products - including many pharmaceuticals - contain wood in one processed form or another. Not one of these products would ever reach your home were it not for loggers, the first link in an impressive supply chain that restocks your pantry, bedroom, bathroom, nursery, workshop and kitchen cupboards every time you visit a store that sells groceries, pharmaceuticals, furniture, clothing or building materials.
Our Daily Wood
Every day, each of Earth's 5.4 billion inhabitants, on the average, use the equivalent of a 4-pound slab of wood. But the average American uses 3.5 times this much wood. Should American's be using less wood? No Way!