Mill City was one of dozens of flourishing timber towns, where a job in the woods or at the local sawmill could support a good life. But protests like the Easter Massacre and the spotted owl court cases upended that, leaving locals to ask, what’s the true endangered species: owls or loggers? This is the story of how one town coped with having their economy put on hold and their very way of life judged guilty.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

This episode also explores how the backlash across the Northwest against the owls and environmentalists turned things like the Endangered Species Act and even science into a partisan issue. And it allowed the timber industry to blame the spotted owl for other factors that were already battering these timber-town economies, including automation, globalization, and the weakening of unions.

A miniature water tower welcomes visitors to Mill City, Oregon. This photo was taken Jan. 24, 2020.

A miniature water tower welcomes visitors to Mill City, Oregon. This photo was taken Jan. 24, 2020.

Aaron Scott

Hosted and produced by OPB’s Aaron Scott in collaboration with 30 Minutes West (“Bundyville,” “Outside Podcast”), and with original music by the singer-songwriter Laura Gibson, “Timber Wars” is a seven-part podcast series from Oregon Public Broadcasting that tells the behind-the-scenes story of how a small group of activists and scientists turned the fight over ancient trees and the spotted owl into one of the biggest environmental conflicts of the 20th century. Episodes are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, the NPR One app and most other podcast apps.

In addition to the podcast, OPB is releasing an accompanying e-newsletter series that combines the podcast with further OPB reporting to take readers through the history of this epic battle — and explores the ways it’s playing out still — in stories, images, videos and more. You can explore the series here.

Related: ‘Timber Wars’ episode 5: The plan

Episode 4: Mill City Transcript

AARON SCOTT, HOST: If you roll out a map of the Pacific Northwest and put your finger down in any of the green parts, chances are that, in the 1980s, the nearest small towns depended on timber from that forest. If you were to put your finger down on the site of the North Roaring Devil Sale and the Easter Massacre, the biggest nearby town would be Mill City. Where, really, the name says it all.

So if the Easter Massacre was a watershed moment for the environmental community, helping to get their fight to save ancient forests in the national news, what did it mean for the community of Mill City?

Well, I was told that that if you wanted to talk to some of the old-timers who logged the old growth in these forests, you should head to the Mountain Cafe at 5am on a Thursday.

[SOUND OF A CAFÉ]

AARON: At this hour, the place is empty, except for one table in the corner.

JIM DOLBY: This is the Romeo Club: Retired Old Men Eating Out [laughter].

AARON: This week’s meeting of the Romeo Club counts two retired loggers, one retired mill-manager, one retired butcher, and two retired government foresters. Not that that’s a badge of pride anymore in these parts.

MYLES MCMILLAN: He’s ex-Forest Service.

ALAN RAINES: Yeah. You don’t have to say that. [laughter]

AARON: They’re all sitting around a big circular table waiting for their food. And true to form, there’s a lot of flannel and suspenders to go around.

AARON: How long have you guys been meeting here on Thursdays?

MYLES: 10 years?

ALAN: More than that.

JOE LICHLYTER: More than that. There’s been a coffee shop discussion table since I moved here in 74 and I know it was going on long before that

AARON: But back then, it wasn’t just retired guys. In its heyday, Mill City had a couple cafes like this that would be full of loggers first thing in the morning, stopping in to fill up on coffee and eggs on their way into the woods.

JIM: You know, everybody was here at least one day a week. Some people here were six or five. It changed.

AARON: Now, the loggers in the black and white photos hanging on the walls outnumber the ones getting breakfast. And that decline began with that first court ruling from Judge Dwyer in 1989.

AARON: Did it feel like it changed the forests got locked up overnight or was it more of a,

ALAN: It wasn’t gradual. It was just an instant. Yeah. As soon as that happened, it was over.

[MUSIC]

AARON: What does it take to halt a way of life? A great depression? A natural disaster? A pandemic? For folks in Mill City, all it took was a loose coalition of environmentalists, scientists and lawyers. Armed with regulations and research papers, they turned the Pacific NW on its head and brought the timber industry to its knees. But like Newton’s third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And the backlash against the owl was mighty. We’re still dealing with it 30 years later.

From Oregon Public Broadcasting, I’m Aaron Scott, and this is Timber Wars.

[MUSIC]

[SOUND OF CAR GOING BY]

TIM KIRSCH: I remember you come down here on the bridge, and we’d stand there and just watch the log trucks roll by at the time, and the whole bridge would shake, and they’d be constant coming through town. There’d be 20 of them in an hour pretty easily, I would say.

AARON: Tim Kirsch is giving me a tour of downtown Mill City. He’s been mayor on and off since 2001.

TIM KIRSCH: Back when I was in school here—I graduated from high school here— I would say the majority of the boys graduating out of high school, either went to work in the woods or into the mill, where they earned a family wage job at the age of 18.

AARON: Tim spent 12 years working in a mill himself. At the time there were about a dozen of them in the small towns surrounding Mill City, up and down the Santiam Canyon.

TIM: Things were good. Everybody had a new pickup in the driveway. Everybody pretty much stayed local for their shopping needs, all that, the local grocery store.

AARON: The local grocery store was across the street from us in a white, two-story building that used to be an Odd Fellows Hall. It was run by Charlie Stewart, and it’s the stuff of local legend.

TIM: When it was Stewart’s grocery? Uh, you could walk in there. It was amazing. Charlie had everything that you needed. Maybe not everything you wanted, but everything you needed. And you could go in there and you could get groceries, you could get your cork boots, you could get jeans, you could get some hardware, you get all sorts of stuff. And Charlie served the timber community. You could come into town without a dime in your pocket and Charlie would extend you credit for a pair of cork boots and some tin pants, and you could get started on the job the next day if you needed to.

AARON: So this is the way things were in the 80s. The surrounding Willamette National Forest sold more timber than any other national forest in the country. And everyone benefitted: the local logging companies bought and logged the sales, the local sawmills processed the timber, and the local counties received a healthy cut of the timber sale revenue, which went to funding schools and roads.

Then came 1989, and a protest not too far from where we’re standing.

[ARCHIVE CLIP MONTAGE:

REPORTER: Logging crews arrived at 5:30 this morning to find 30 protestors who sealed off entrance to the site.

PROTESTOR: Well, I was thinking build a wall between the two barriers of cars.

REPORTER: This morning a confrontation seemed possible.

DEPUTY: You want to be carried out, or do you want to walk out?

TOWNS PEOPLE CHANTING: Save our loggers! Save our loggers!]

AARON: In the same month as the protest, judges paused pretty much all timber sales in federal forests in Oregon and Washington—the kind of sales this area depended on—until the government could come up with a better plan to protect the northern spotted owl. It felt like a landslide suddenly crashing down on the community.

DEBBIE MILEY: It sort of blindsided all of us. And I think that really sparked a fear in everybody around here, was that, you know, we really are standing to lose our jobs.

AARON: This is Debbie Miley. She runs the National Wildfire Suppression Association. It’s in a little office two doors down from the Stewart’s Grocery building on Mill City’s main drag. Her husband was one of the loggers working the North Roaring Devil Sale.

DEBBIE: Yeah. It’s dangerous enough to work in the woods without having to worry about somebody’s going to spike a tree and somebody’s going to cut into it. Someone’s going to get killed. So it was scary on a lot of levels.

AARON: That fear only grew after the Easter Massacre, when the national media started to descend on the area.

DEBBIE: I don’t think we were prepared on how to deal with that. You know, we were not professionals in any sense of the word, and people were wanting to interview everybody.

AARON: Reporters wanted to go into the woods with her husband. They wanted to talk with her children. And the coverage wasn’t exactly flattering. Everyone told me no less than President George H.W. Bush singled Mill City out as a Dying Timber Town.

In other words, it quickly became clear they were losing the PR battle to a bunch of old trees and scruffy environmentalists. So folks like Debbie decided they needed to push back if they wanted to survive.

DEBBIE: There was a real grassroots movement among the workers in those mills knowing that their livelihood was being threatened. And so there was a real push to find a way to bring all those folks together so that we have some kind of a unified voice.

AARON: Debbie helped organize one of several groups that began to put out pamphlets and press releases and organize rallies in towns up and down the Northwest. If there was a court hearing, they were outside it with signs. If there was a political event, they were circling the block with their log trucks.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, REPORTER: A crowd of over 8,000 people jammed Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland for a pro-timber rally. Workers from all around the state were given the day off to protest proposed logging cutbacks.]

AARON: They even took the fight into downtown Portland to confront the environmentalists trying to shut down their industry.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, LOGGER: We’re talking about jobs.

ENVIRONMENTALIST: there’s also the future, too. That’s important too.

LOGGER: We’re talking about environmentalists having problem with this owl.

ENVIRONMENTALIST: It is a problem.]

AARON: Loggers and mill workers adopted yellow ribbons as the symbol of their movement. And they scored some big wins early on. Like when word came out that TBS was going to air an old growth documentary produced by the National Audubon Society that was filmed around Mill City.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, “RAGE OVER TREES” DOCUMENTARY, PAUL NEWMAN: The battle in the Pacific Northwest is part of a struggle that is nationwide.]

AARON: The Audubon Society had landed Paul Newman as the narrator. And it wasn’t just his fame: he’d actually played an Oregon logger in the movie “Sometimes A Great Notion,” so his flip was like a message about which side was winning.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, PAUL NEWMAN: These people are in a rage over trees. Old trees. Some people want to cut them for lumber. Some people want to save them.]

AARON: Not to be outdone, the yellow ribbon campaign channeled that rage into a telephone network aimed at getting national advertisers to withdraw. And they all did, forcing the station to run the program without sponsorship or commercials.

[MUSIC]

AARON: As the Timber Wars engulfed these small towns, it made friends out of enemies, and enemies out of friends. For much of the century, timber had been a lot like manufacturing and mining. The battles were between workers and timber bosses. In fact, unions had been warning for decades that the logging companies were cutting too fast, and that it was the loggers and mill workers who would pay the price when the old growth bonanza ran dry.

But now, workers and bosses found themselves on the same side of the protest line. Mill owners funded a lot of the grassroots groups and even closed mills to bus workers to rallies.

Communities were instead splitting apart along a new fault line. And no one experienced it more firsthand than Cherie Girod.

CHERIE GIROD: Then I guess we’ll go in my office.

AARON: Cherie runs the Canyon Crisis Center. It’s in a little white house on the side of the highway full of old furniture and hand knit blankets. Because they need all the space they can get, Cherie’s office is in the kitchen.

CHERIE: Don’t mind my mess, I’m in the middle of grants and federal reports.

AARON: She comes from a third-generation logging family, and her husband, Jim Girod, owned a local grocery store.

CHERIE: He was riding bicycles across the United States with his son for Doernbecher Hospital, and somebody went in and put out the rumor that he was a part of the eco-terrorists. And why would anybody shop his store?

AARON: Just because he liked bicycles?

CHERIE: Just because he liked bicycle riding. That’s something that they do. And so I had to contact him when he was on his ride and tell him what was going on. And he didn’t believe it because he had grown up in this area himself. His dad started the grocery stores. He could not believe that anybody would believe anything like that.

AARON: But when folks started painting the words ‘ecoterrorist’ and ‘pig’ on the windows of his store, he had no choice but to believe it.

CHERIE: It was a war. You are either on one side or you are on the other side.

AARON: It was the kind of thing that tore apart friendships and divided kids on the playground. Were your parents loggers, or environmentalists? So Cherie jumped into action. She printed up t-shirts for the staff that said “We support the timber industry.” She called the mill owners and reassured them her husband was on their side. She got on the local radio station and had the best-known local environmentalist call in saying that her husband had never given money to protect the old growth. She even spoke at a rally about how the community needed to stand together and not turn on each other.

CHERIE: I’ll tell you, within a 24-hour period, I had those t-shirts, I was on the radio station, and I was standing up and talking in front of thousands of people, and we finally got it settled.

AARON: It’s almost mind boggling to me that they would be so focused on even just one business with the idea that, Oh, you might be sympathetic.

CHERIE: People were hurting that bad, and they were that scared, and they were that upset, and they were looking for somebody to blame. If anybody wasn’t on our side, then you were definitely the enemy.

[MUSIC]

AARON: But one scapegoat rose above everything else: the northern spotted owl. Just as it became the mascot and the legal lynchpin for the environmentalists, it became a symbol of everything the logging communities hated and feared.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, LOGGER: I don’t think any of us want the owl to become extinct. But if it’s us or the owl, I don’t care what happens to them.]

AARON: Folks started making bumper stickers and t-shirts that said things like: “Save a Logger; Eat an Owl” and “Spotted Owl Tastes Like Chicken.”

[ARCHIVE CLIP, REPORTER: If you thought it was the 25 cent drafts that brought this crowd to the Town Tavern this evening, you’re wrong. These loggers came for spotted owl dinner special.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSOR:

REPORTER: Aren’t you worried you might be eating the last of an endangered species here?

LOGGER: That is really worrying me, because I’m an endangered species.]

AARON: Of course, the meat really was chicken. But remember how some environmentalists didn’t want to list the spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act because they feared it could backfire on the law and hurt the fight to protect ancient forests? Well, it kind OF did.

[ARCHIVE CLIP MONTAGE:

REPORTER: Environmentalists are accused of turning the Endangered Species Act into terrorist weapon to kill off timber industry.

ARCHIVE CLIP, MILL OWNER: It’s a disaster. They’re going to shut the mills like this in Oregon and Washington down, period.

ARCHIVE CLIP, WOMAN: It’s nothing but a glorified barn owl.]

AARON: The listing of the northern spotted owl made headlines across the country. The owl even landed on the cover of “Time” magazine.

It seems like a straightforward thing, but looking back on the federal government’s multi-year process of listing the spotted owl is like watching cartoon characters toss a ticking time bomb back and forth. First the US Fish and Wild Service said the owl wasn’t really threatened, but then the courts said they were wrong. So then Fish and Wildlife admitted it was threatened, but didn’t do anything about it. Then they went back and forth over how much old growth needed to be protected. And the whole time the George H.W. Bush administration did whatever it could to delay and sabotage the process.

[MUSIC]

AARON: Normally this is the kind of bureaucratic stuff no one cares about. But in this case, it was nightly news across the Northwest. And local people cared deeply, and they actually felt like they could do something about it. At least at first.

TOM FENCL: And they had the hearings when they had the hearings for the spotted owl thing, to invite the public like that. We stood down there for hours and hours to testify.

AARON: Tom Fencl was one of the retired loggers around the table at the Romeo Club. I went to see him afterward at his home.

TOM: Waited in line for two hours to testify. Get in there and look over at the panel, and half of them were gone, or they were sleeping.

AARON: Oh no, because it’s so many people were testifying?

TOM: Probably a thousand, maybe more. But when I got up there to testify, I said, well, you people ought to have a decency to at least wake up and listen, rather than either be gone or sleeping. Well, it didn’t, that didn’t go over very big, but it didn’t change nothing.

AARON: That sense of not having any say over your own future, that sense of not even being listened to when you’re asking for help: that festers. And it grows. And in this case, it turned the Endangered Species Act into the poster child for government overreach, a status it holds to this day. Because, never before had the protection of a single animal affected so many people. Especially a motley owl that hides in the dank forest like a criminal.

The irony, of course, is that the Endangered Species Act wasn’t really what locked up the old growth to begin with. That was the National Forest Management Act. But that law was hard to understand, and ‘NFMA’ doesn’t exactly make for punchy protest signs. So the Endangered Species Act became the smokey villain that got all the blame. And, like environmentalists feared, calls to repeal it echoed all the way from cafes in Mill City to the White House.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I will not sign an extension of Endangered Species Act unless it give greater consideration to jobs, to families and to communities. It is time to make people more important than owls.]

AARON: But loggers weren’t just anti-endangered species act. They were also becoming anti-science. You see, before the spotted owl, loggers had been working hand-in-hand with the Forest Service for decades, and they felt like they were doing a good job managing the forests. Keeping them healthy and growing.

But then in the 80s, the owl biologists started showing up, hooting into the trees. Then the aquatic ecologists arrived, and the soil scientists. They’d long been relegated to the back of the ranger stations, but as the environmental lawsuits went on, the role of scientists became more and more prominent to make sure new timber sales wouldn’t land in court. And their influence grew.

JIM DOLBY: They have all kinds of ‘ologists

AARON: This is logger Jim Dolby back at the Romeo Club.

JIM: And every one of those ologists, their main focus and mission is to figure out how to keep anything from happening.

ALAN RAINES: Yeah. So the specialists, they specialize the Forest Service out of cutting timber, that they do.

AARON: And this is Alan Raines. He spent nearly 40 years laying out the local timber sales for the Forest Service. He tells the story of a huge storm in 1990 that knocked down big swathes of the forest. So his team went to work laying out a salvage sale so loggers could harvest the timber before the beetles moved in.

ALAN: We had 90, we had over a hundred million feet of salvage that we had laid out in that storm. And by the time the specialists got done, we sold about 11 million of the 100 million.

AARON: It wasn’t just all the time they’d spent laying out the sale, which was funded by tax dollars. It was all the potential timber money the local economy lost.

ALAN: When we laid hundreds of million of feet of timber out and got it dropped—I mean wasted money, wasted money, millions of dollars, literally wasted.

AARON: As the sales shrank, so did Alan’s timber department. From about a dozen folks in the 70s until it was just him and a couple temps when he retired in 2009. He repeated several times: he was happy to get out. By then, the forest service was nothing like the agency he’d gone to work for in 1970. And its relationship with logging communities had grown about as rotten as the logs the specialists left lying on the ground.

But loggers had more problems than just the owl. Problems that almost never get talked about today. That’s coming up, after the break.

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BREAK

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AARON: While conservative politicians have never succeeded in getting rid of the Endangered Species Act, the backlash to it did win one major victory for the timber industry. After being portrayed as the villains cutting down America’s last ancient forests, the logging side managed to flip the script. So that they were the underdogs.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, NEWS ANCHOR: Now to owls versus loggers in the Pacific Northwest.]

AARON: As they made their case, both sides were throwing all sorts of numbers around.

[ARCHIVE CLIP MONTAGE:

TIMBER LOBBYIST: 250,000 jobs in the west.

REPORTER: Environmentalists call these figures by the National Forest Products Association outrageous.

REPORTER: Exactly how many jobs are at stake is a matter of considerable dispute.

ENVIRONMENTALIST: 10 to 15 percent, that’s all.]

AARON: But it was a lot more complicated than owls vs. jobs. The timber industry was already undergoing massive changes that had nothing to do with the owl. An economic recession in the early 1980s drove a lot of mills out of business, and those that survived adopted new technology that resulted in even more layoffs.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, REPORTER: In the 1970s, it took seven mill workers to turn a million board feet of logs into lumber. In today’s modern, computerized mills, the same amount of timber creates two jobs or less.]

AARON: The recession also hammered the final nail in the coffin of what had once been thriving unions in the northwest. The big corporations threatened to move their mills to the south, in order to break the unions. Some broke the unions, and moved anyway. Over the course of the 80s, mill jobs that had once paid a premium turned into average-wage jobs. And the mill owners were able to blame the owl for it.

But perhaps the most controversial issue was log exports. Instead of milling logs here and exporting the lumber, a lot of companies were shipping raw logs overseas, mostly to Japan, which means they also exported half the jobs. It’s so bad for local economies that many countries ban raw log exports completely

[ARCHIVE CLIP, REPORTER: Some workers, including those who’ve already lost their jobs, say the real problem is in exporting jobs.

MILL WORKER: It’s a cover up. It’s a cover up. I lost my job Friday, and it’s a cover up. It’s not the owl! Talk about those exports.]

[MUSIC]

AARON: These were just like the changes that were reshaping other industries like farming, mining and manufacturing, but with one big difference: the spotted owl took all the blame. Especially on May 23rd, 1991, when Judge William Dwyer took the NW from timber purgatory to timber hell by making his injunctions permanent, at least until the Forest Service submitted a legal owl protection plan.

[ARCHIVE CLIP, NEWS ANCHOR: A federal judge in Seattle last night blocked timber sales in national forests in three northwest states.

REPORTER: In an order issued today, Dwyer said, “the loss of old growth is permanent and irreparable.”]

AARON: I have to take a minute to talk about that ruling. Like most, non-lawyers, I don’t exactly look forward to reading court documents. They’re dry. But judge Dwyer’s ruling is on fire. It’s full of passion and poetry. Let me read you an excerpt:

“The argument that the mightiest economy on earth cannot afford to preserve old growth forests for a short time, while it reaches an overdue decision on how to manage them, is not convincing today. It would be even less so a year or a century from now.”

It was a stunning defeat not just for the Forest Service, but for the entire worldview that valued forests in economic terms.

[MUSIC]

AARON: For a lot of people in places like Mill City, the ruling meant that this work they’d built their identity around, this work they’d done for generations, it had been judged—and found guilty.

RANDY MOBERG: I actually had my kids come home, and when they were really young, and say, well, you know, my teacher said you’re a bad man. You killed trees.

AARON: Randy Moberg is a fourth-generation logger. His family ran one of the bigger logging companies in town, and he also worked the North Roaring Devil sale.

RANDY: And, I mean, that was the type of thing that went on. It got to be so bad that way. You know that people, “Oh you, you’re killed trees.” You know, it was almost like you were afraid to say what you even did for living.

AARON: This is how far logging had fallen from the days that Johnny Cash romanticized it in the “Lumberjack” song.

[JOHNNY CASE, SINGING “LUMBERJACK”:

Well I learned this fact from a logger named Ray

You don’t cut timber on a windy day

Stay out of the woods when the moisture’s low

Or you ain’t gonna live to collect your dough.]

AARON: Randy’s family, like many of the local logging outfits, ended up closing down their business. There just weren’t enough big trees coming out of the national forests for them to pay the bills. And most of the local stores that supplied them, like Stewart’s Grocery, closed too.

RANDY: It just died a lot quicker than I thought it would. I did not expect: ‘cause it justYdevastated my life, you know? I mean, and my family’s and my dad’s. You know, a lot of reason I think my dad died at an early age is he just couldn’t rationale and stuff how all of a sudden it could just totally stop. I mean, it just destroyed him. You know, he was a third generation one up in here, and he just couldn’t understand how that public could accept what a few, what a really small group of radicals could stop a complete industry. And they basically did.

[MUSIC]

AARON: Few people had a more front row seat to the emotional devastation than Cherie Girod at the Canyon Crisis Center, whose husband was accused of being an ecoterrorist because he went on a bicycle trip. The crisis center was started in the 80s to help women dealing with domestic violence and drug abuse. But by the early 90s, more and more men started showing up.

CHERIE GIROD: And they would come in, “how are you doing? Uh, do you have any coffee? Can we just sit and talk? I got a couple of things that just kind of like to run past you.” It would be very natural, very comfortable at first. And then once you would start talking, and they would start opening up, and it was really hard for some of them to open up since we are such a close-knit community.

AARON: Remember, according to the “Lumberjack” song, these are the guys who are supposed to cuss and fight and head to the bar, not the counseling center.

CHERIE: To hear these men sit and cry, you know, “what do I do? How do I take care of my family? My wife and I were fighting. We never fought before. My kids, they hate me. I don’t know what to do.”

They were losing their log trucks, they were losing their homes, they were losing all sorts of things. And a lot of the families had never had victimization and abuse in their families, and men that had never drank, began to drink, uh, family issues. And so the crisis center got involved, to try to help these families and help these people understand that what was going on was not their fault. They did not cause this to happen to them.

The first time a man asked me, “if I kill myself, will my family get my insurance?” And it’s like, no, this is, it doesn’t work that way. And why would you? So then we also brought in grief counseling and family counseling. And so that’s when people started turning around and realizing that this was going to be a long battle, and it probably was one they weren’t going to win. And so then they started selling their homes and started moving away.

AARON: That point of someone who moved to Portland or Bend or you know, they drive across this highway and look at this town, and they’re kind of like, “ah, that’s a rundown town.” And then they look at the forest and they’re like, “oh, that’s a beautiful forest.” What don’t they understand about the price and who bore the price there?

CHERIE: Well, what they don’t understand is the bodies that were left behind—the people that actually made this be a beautiful community—and they take a look at it, and they go, “that’s a rundown community. It looks like a town that time forgot.” Well, it wasn’t that way. And it was because that somebody judged us wrongly that it, that we paid the price for it, and we’re still paying the price. And so for a lot of people, it’s still very raw.

[MUSIC]

AARON: Before we go: Just before we put out this series, the fires that erupted across the west coast in 2020 burned through Mill City and the Santiam Canyon, including much of the forests that loggers and environmentalists fought over. We’re still not sure of the extent of the damage. Last we heard, the Mountain Cafe survived. But we know a lot of homes and businesses were lost. Our hearts go out to all those who’ve been affected by these fires, and we wish you a full and speedy recovery.

We’ll get back to the story of what people were doing to try and save other timber towns, next time on Timber Wars.

[CREDITS]

“Timber Wars” is reported and written by me, Aaron Scott, with editing by Peter Frick-Wright, Robbie Carver, David Steves and Ed Jahn.

This series is produced by me, and Peter and Robbie, of 30 Minutes West.

Our music is from Laura Gibson, and also audio network.

Sound design by Robbie Carver and final mixing by Steven Kray.

Our fact checker is Matt Giles.

Legal oversight by Rebecca Morris.

And our executive producer is Ed Jahn.

Thanks to NPR and to the University of Oregon Library for the archival news footage, along with Nathan Georgitis, Katie Daugert and Jenna Molster for helping us find it.

Timber Wars is a production of Oregon Public Broadcasting. To support Timber Wars and all of OPB’s science and environment reporting becoming a sustaining member today at opb.org/pod. Really, we can only do this with your support.

And if you like this show, please share it and give us a rating and review wherever you’re listening. It really does help.


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