Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First the loggers, now the other owls

I grew up in the tiny northern California town of Happy Camp. It started as a gold mining town in the early 1850s, but when the gold didn't pan out anymore, the dominant local industry quickly switched to logging. When I moved to Happy Camp in 1981, there were still several logging mills operating in the area; by the time I moved away to go to college in 1990, there was only one mill. Now there are none. No greater reason exists for this death of the local logging industry than federal logging restrictions that were put in place to protect the Northern Spotted Owl, a fragile bird that supposedly could only exist in old growth forests.

Now that the logging industry in Northern California has been killed off, it turns out that it may all have been for nothing anyway, as the Northern Spotted Owl is still dying off - to the tune of a 40% drop in numbers in the last 25 years. In fact, another species of owl is now being lined up for sacrifice much the same way the loggers were... all to save the Northern Spotted Owl.

The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is all set to begin killing Barred Owls because they have been taking over the lands occupied by the Spotted Owl.

Judging by the tone of the Post piece, I get the feeling that the reporter is trying to soften the landing of this shoe being dropped. At one point the reporter tries to justify the killing of the Barred Owls by pointing out that in the past, the federal government has killed one species in order to save another species:
The plan to kill barred owls would not be the first time the federal government has authorized killing of one species to help another. California sea lions that feast on threatened salmon in the Columbia River have been killed in recent years after efforts to chase them away or scare them failed.
Here's the problem with that line of reasoning: We humans eat salmon, so there is a legitimate reason to beat back the onslaught of the sea lions. Spotted Owls, however, are not regularly on the menu... unless of course, as the old bumper sticker says, "I love spotted owls... especially fried in Quaker State!"

Happy Camp now relies on tourist dollars and swag from Uncle Sugar. I remember all the good people who moved away when the government caused the logging to dry up. What a shame that it turns out that this town was killed in vain.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

5 comments:

Darren said...

Heathen, Uncle Sugar knows best!

What kinda federal silver does Happy Camp get? I didn't understand that comment in your post.

W.R. Chandler said...

Karuk Tribe is HQ'd there, so the Indian money flows in unabated. Also, a goodly amount of the town's population is on welfare.

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