Oregon Magazine

Tom Lipscomb's reaction to: The Oregon Whopper is Kelpie
Environmentalists and the Environment

January 1, 2008 -- The key point we need to remember is a lot of "environmentalists" don't know squat about "the environment" except what they see out of a tinted SUV window. You want to see a foul tangle of rotting vegetation? Take a look at the average "wetlands." Whether it is the Jersey Meadows or the "passes" of the Louisiana Delta of the Mississippi River... it smells foul, the water is an icky shade of sewage brown... and they are chock full of all the junk that accumulates where the alluvial waters meet the sea from spare tires to sunken boats.. 

And why would anyone want to protect wetlands like this?  Try cleaning one out on your property sometime and you will get to know a lot of neat folks from your local environmental agency. What doesn't occur to the property owner is that these "unsightly bogs" also just happen to be a positively amazing soup of life-giving nutriments to tens of thousands of species from minute water lice to the whooping crane.

Or look at pure freshwater swamps like the Okeefenokee.

And what are they full of?  LIFE.!!! They are the hiding places for small fish, reptiles, nesting birds, you name it. And that is why those tangled nurseries are so damned valuable.  And so are those Oregon streams cluttered with blowdowns, branches and sawmill and lumbering detritus.

Playing political games with Mother Nature

Well-meaning souls like Kelpie (ED: see link at the top of this page) want to "clean them up." Sounds great, doesn't it?  Until you think about it. Let's turn all these brown water icky sticky places into a crystal clear Evian quality spring source. That may be fine for humans in search of a new spa, but it is hell on the future of species environmentalists are honestly trying to protect.

At the same time, they want to make sure the forest floor is littered with tons of fallen limbs, blowndown trees, and underbrush which they want to protect as a "natural forest environment." They are right about that. It is "natural" alright, which is why there were so many forest fires before we learned something about forestry management and clearing out the "understory." 

Now if you can figure out how "environmentalists" logically want to allow forests to turn into glorified brush piles that make a really monster forest fire while they "clean up" streams so they become lifeless stretches of clear water, you are doing better than I can.

Boy Scout lessons

I don't know how many baby chipmunks I killed by "rescuing" them and feeding them to death. I was full of laudable emotions and had the naturalist instincts of a moron. The wild outdoors works on different principles as anyone who spends time in it learns, sometimes painfully. It is often as
counterintuitive as throwing your weight down a terrifyingly steep black diamond slope so you can unweight and turn your skis to a safer line of descent.

One of my proudest days as a kid was becoming a member of the "Oregon Green Guards" which gave me the right to nail hundreds of huge garish posters on every flat surface I could find (" Remember," says Smokey the Bear  ....  "ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES!" and boy did we try). And I would glue hundreds of miniposter stamps to anything I couldn't nail to. I learned about the menace of environmentalists early by being filled with more righteous emotion and more propaganda than I could carry.

My new status also entitled me to spend really gross weekends climbing on Portland school buses in the winter darkness of early morning so I could get soaked planting tiny seedlings in a wasteland then called the Tillamook Burn and come home filthy, sooty, and exhausted. As a kid I was convinced the rain would simply wash all our pitiful little plots down the muddy hills of the Coast Range. How wrong I was.

Science vs. the environmental religion

Many Oregonians have put in their time in real conservation efforts, often on their own property. And they KNOW the woods and mountains and high deserts of the state. 

It is time to educate the press and environmentalists on the realities of scientific conservation.vs a religion based upon faith and emotion called "environmentalism."

         --- Thomas H. Lipscomb

© 2008 Thomas Lipscomb