Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Revenge of the Spotted Owl

Rose Machinery, Inc. Horrizontal Band Re-Rip Saw
Carolynne and Ray Rose operate a millwright company in Bend, Oregon. Carolynne is my daughter. Rose Machinery, Inc was founded by Ray’s father in 1978 in the midst of a booming lumber industry. In those days Rose Machinery tools were mostly sold to local companies. Today Ray sells his products world-wide, some as far away as China. What happened to the Oregon lumber industry is the sad story of environmental fanaticism and the Spotted Owl.

In the 1980s forest scientists became concerned about the declining population of a small, reclusive owl that lived in the old-growth forests of Oregon. They believed that if the old forests went away due to logging, so would the Spotted Owl. Environmental groups spotted a legal wedge in their aggressive crusade to halt old-growth logging and sued to list the spotted owl among the nation's endangered species. “What followed was one of the most gut-grabbing economic and social upheavals in modern Oregon history.”

“Sawmills were shut down and thousands of loggers lost jobs. Restaurants put spotted owls on their menus, and T-shirts and bumper stickers urged: Save a logger, eat an owl.”

In the years 1990-95, timber employment dropped by 11,000 (20%) sending families to unemployment offices and food banks. In 1993, President Clinton signed the Northwest Forest Plan which put millions of acres of federal timber off-limits to logging. The wood-based industries in Oregon were forced to import lumber from Canada, China and the tropical rainforests. “Blood lumber, as it were. You get a little gorilla meat with every log from equatorial Africa, because that is what native loggers eat for lunch.”

The greatest loss in the Spotted Owl debacle was the stable funding base for schools, roads and local government due to the loss of timber revenues. “Rural school kids get what is becoming a third world educational prospect.”

More than a decade after lumbering was halted in order to save the Spotted Owl, it is the height of environmental irony that nature is proving far more adept at getting rid of the owl than the Endangered Species Act was in saving it. The versatile and voracious Barred Owl is driving the smaller Spotted Owl out of the protected forests. Forest Rangers are now considering a Barred Owl hunting season.

The moral of the story is that environmental whackos armed with the Endangered Species Act can play havoc with the social and economic fabric of a community.

The latest and a far more serious threat is the global warming frenzy. The Fish and Wildlife Service has been asked to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act as the result of habitat loss caused by global warming and the melting of Arctic sea ice. The New York Times thinks this would be great since it would “trigger a series of protections, including identifying habitat critical to the bears’ survival and also impose obligations on all federal agencies to avoid actions that could hurt the bears’ prospects.” The result will be lawsuits against any activity (driving, barbequing, breathing…) that generates greenhouse gasses.

In California, the global warmistas have already had a negative impact. The California Global Warming Solutions Act that was passed in 2006 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008. Because “global warming poses a serious threat to the public health, natural resources and environment of California,” all development projects are going to be subject to environmental reviews that include a climate change study.
At the Palos Verdes Library District we are embarking on a capital campaign to raise several million dollars for a major expansion of the Miraleste Branch Library. Our legal counsel warns that for any large development, “opponents will attack the method of analysis employed” thereby adding costs and delays to the construction project.
You can take it to the bank that schools, hospitals, housing and development of all kinds will be substantially burdened, stalled or even stopped by environmentalist lawsuits. The lawyers will be happy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!! What a mess we are in!!


2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put! This fight is going to be a long and protracted one. Have there been any inklings of opposition to expanding the Miraleste branch? What has the RPV Planning Dept said?

I may have asked this question before when we were looking at conceptual designs, but are libraries exempt from CEQA? The decision on the closure of Miraleste HS in 1989 by the court said that the district must do a CEQA analysis. School districts were previously exempt. Since public libraries are subject to the Education Code (like school districts), the question in my mind is whether the Miraleste decision affects libraries also.

Barry H.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill
Thanks for your blog, however you left out one of the common causes of greenhouse gas which the Democrats would love to tax. You said "The result will be lawsuits against any activity (driving, barbequing, breathing…) that generates greenhouse gasses.". You did not mention "farting" Also the hot air exhaled by Al gore everytime he opens his mouth contributes to global warming.

Keep your blogs coming.


2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billy, thanks for sharing the article with me. I’m sending it on my son-in-law who is developing housing for senior citizens as well as others.


3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one mentions that the polar bears survived the past (much) warmer spells without harm. Why should this time be different?


3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Northern Spotted Owls interbreed with Barred Owls, so they seem more like sub-species of the same species than separate species. Local variations in colors and markings are common in species that have a wide range. A good example of this is the gull ring species that goes all the way around the world. If the Barred Owl sub-species is more agressive and is driving out the Spotted Owl sub-species, does that require human intervention? Similar competition happens all over the world and always has. According to Gause's Law, species having the same resource requirements are not likely to co-exist for long in the same area.

If we plan to manage nature to this degree, what are we going to do about Ravens and Great Horned Owls, both of which prey on the Spotted Owl?

At least 27,000 species become extinct every year. Many more species of animals and plants haven't even been identified yet, so who knows how many additional species may be dying out? If we want to intervene in all of these cases, we have a lot of work to do.

Is there a minimum size limit to our concern? It extends down to Snail Darters, but does it go all the way down to microbes? There must be bacteria that have genes of potential value in medicine. Can we let them go extinct? Can we prevent it?


3:15 PM  
Anonymous Ray Rose said...


Wow, another good post. Thanks for the plug. Here is a little more detail on the subject.

The listing of the Spotted Owl as endangered gave that bird an undeserved bad name. The Owls were just the primary tool that the environmentalists used to beat the timber industry over the head with the Endangered Species Act. Ironically, these cuddly feathered animals that 'desperately needed miles of Old Growth timber per mating pair' were found to nest in such odd places as Wal-Mart signs. No kidding, I’ve seen pictures! But by the time the lie was revealed, it was too late. Large tracts of forest lands, both public and private, all over the northwest that weren’t already protected as wilderness areas were locked up. Forest Service timber sales are tied up in court. Extremists chain themselves to gates or live in trees.

Eventually the Lumber mills were starved of timber, closed, and dismantled. In the 80’s there were over 6 Lumber Mills within a 60 mile radius of Bend. Now there are only 2. We've lost a particle board plant and several remanufacturing plants. The latest local casualty was Oregon Woodworking Company, a remanufacturing plant that has been competing with importers at manufacturing door jambs and other value added wood products. That's another 130 family wage jobs that went overseas. Many of those skilled workers can look forward to finding a minimum wage job in the service industry, since tourism has replaced timber as Central Oregon's primary employment sector.

Each year more Northwest timber is burned in forest fires (wild and prescribed) and less is harvested. Timber is our only renewable resource. We should be managing it like a crop, not letting it go to waste.

As for Carbon Dioxide being bad for the environment, I’d like to quote one of my favorite conservatives, “Trees LOVE the stuff!”

Thanks Bill, keep up the good work.


9:56 AM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...


Don't get me started on the snail darter. From Wiki:

In 1973 professor David Etnier discovered the snail darter in the Little Tennessee River while doing research related to a lawsuit involving the National Environmental Policy Act and the Tellico Dam, then under construction. Tellico Reservoir, to be created by Tellico Dam, would alter the habitat of the river to the point of extirpating the snail darter. The NEPA lawsuits slowed down the Tellico Dam but did not stop it.

Chief Justice Warren Burger writing for the majority of the Supreme Court replied to TVA’s arguments:

It is clear from the Act’s legislative history that Congress intended to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction—whatever the cost.

Snail darters before people!

5:01 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...


Polar bears once were Canadians, and somehow they manage to survive in American Zoos. What nonsense!

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point on the perspective of this, George. We agree, for a change! Agreements are not nearly so interesting as disagreements, but they are nice, once in a while.
We have a lot to learn about to what degree various plant & animal species are a help or hinderance to mankind. Extinctions have been happening for billions of years before we came on the scene.
How obligated are we to end these happenings?

It is claimed that the human population will peak cAD 2050 and then start to recede.Does anyone know the background of this claim?

I recall thinking that maybe the Condor is trying to become extinct. How far will we go to keep a species in existence at what cost?


5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The human population will peak a in 2050 then recede."

I remember an anlysis which speculated that the receding would be caused by pollution causing the lifespan to decrease.


5:06 PM  
Anonymous Ray Rose said...


11 April 2008

Spotted Owls successfully breed in captivity. A pair of spotted owls at the High Desert Museum near Bend, OR have successfully bred and hatched an owlet. A second is expected to hatch within the next few days.

12:16 PM  

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