We're much stronger together

  • Environmental attorney Michael Jackson

    Debra Moore
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

"Charismatic," "feisty," "a bulldog," and "non-stop talker" are just a few of the adjectives used to describe environmental attorney Michael Jackson. He has lived and worked in Quincy, Calif., for 20 years.

Michael Jackson: "I've taken part in listing almost every salmon on the West Coast. I did some of it with (California state senator) Tom Hayden. But I can't fix the salmon problem with the law. They're in too much trouble. I need the help of everyone.

"It's the same with logging. I need my neighbors. If the logger who drives the Cat in the woods won't help me, then that tractor will go through the stream, no matter how many rules there are.

"I'm a smart, mouthy, short, nasty, ugly lawyer. But my neighbor is a tall, dark, handsome woodsman. The Cat driver will listen to him.

"Do I worry about being tricked? Can loggers and ranchers work around the environmentalists? No. I know courtroom tricks I haven't even begun to use. I know national editorial writers. I have lots of abilities, and I want them to be community abilities. And my friends in the timber industry have abilities that should be community abilities.

"We're much stronger together. We now share what we know. If we can't solve our problems, we're going to lose the ecosystem.

"Will thinning the forest and creating more big trees make the area more attractive to urbanites? Will we encourage more newcomers to move here and push out rural ways? I don't know. What I need to do right now is make low-density land uses pay. Sierra Pacific Industries owns 1.4 million acres in California. Do I want to drive them out of logging and into real estate?

"If I don't allow time for today's stresses to work their way through, I run the risk of working with a whole different class of people. Yes, I want to see the timber and grazing people change. But I have to give them time to change. A better-looking forest will eventually attract more urban people, but by allowing the timber industry to die now, we'll have a whole lot of trailers from Reno."