The story of the two owls

Not long ago Forks, Washington was a thriving logging community, and called itself “The Logging Capital of the World.”  The timber came from the Olympia National Forest, and Bill Clinton killed the town’s industry in order to protect the spotted owl, an endangered species.  He promised the devastated residents that they would make more money selling T shirts to tourists than they did logging.  It was all a lie.

Today the spotted owl is more endangered than ever, but it’s not because old growth timber is being harvested.  A competing species, the barrel owl, is driving it to extinction.  A barrel owl is bigger and more aggressive than a spotted one, and they are driving their smaller cousins to extinction by outbreeding them.  The federal government’s solution?  Kill the barrel owl.  Forest Rangers go into the woods and hunt them.  These beautiful birds are too well adapted to their environment, and they must die.  If I was running for President I’d go there and raise hell about it.

99% of all the species that have ever lived on earth are extinct.  In nature, it’s survival of the fittest, and if a species can’t compete it dies.  It’s the cycle of life, and has been for billions of years.  But today earth worshipers insist on intervening in this process, and saving every damn worthless beast on the planet.  They’re playing God.  Sometimes it makes sense, as with the giant panda, a special kind of animal, beloved by all.  But a spotted owl?  If it can survive, we should leave it alone.  If it can’t, it will be replaced by a superior species.  And don’t get me started on the delta smelt of California.

I just read The Big Burn, by Timothy Egan, a marvelous account of the largest wildfire in American history, burning some three million acres, and killing hundreds of fire fighters.  It’s also a paean to the National Forest Service, and its creators, Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pynchon.  At the time, having a national forest system, and service, made sense.  Greedy timber barons were wreaking havoc on the land, and it needed protection.  Today things are different.  If the States owned and managed these forests, they would be in far better shape.  In Idaho, for instance, State forest land is well managed, producing revenue in an environmentally sensible way, and in a manner making forest fires less of a threat.  But the half of the State owned and managed by the federal government is mismanaged, and prone to disastrous wildfires.  The people of Idaho, and its political leadership are not going to allow the destruction of the beautiful environment they live in and near.  The Transfer of Public Lands is the best fire protection the Far West could have.

Today the Forest Service seems like it’s being run by acolytes of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club.  He wasn’t a conservationist, he was a fanatic, who felt that the Far West and its forests should remain in a state of nature.  The only human presence that was appropriate in his Church of Nature would be people such as himself, who hiked in and made no disturbance.  Both Roosevelt and Pynchon rejected Muir’s approach, and wanted National Forests for multiple uses.  They just wanted things done in an environmentally responsible manner.

Trump seems less erratic lately, sticking to his script.  Everybody’s underestimated him for over a year, and everyone still does.  He’s such a jerk you really can’t root for him.  But if he manages to keep his temper in the debates, he could destroy Clinton.  Think of all the material he’s got to work with.  He may be a jerk, but she’s a crook, and everyone knows it.  You don’t need to be Clarence Darrow to cut her up.  But she’ll do the same to him, and she’s got a lot to work with as well.  Anybody could put the screws to Trump, and make him look bad.  How he handles himself while under assault may be the key to this election.

W Day is in less than a week, and the tension in my marriage mounts.  Babbie has assumed the role of wedding planner, and takes her responsibilities very seriously.  ATW is just six long days away.  I count the hours.

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