Jon Roush, president of the Wilderness Society, found himself in an embarrassing position last month. The Nation magazine lambasted him for selling timber worth $140,000 from his western Montana ranch. Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair questioned why a man paid $125,000 a year to protect wilderness would log private land adjacent to a national forest when his group had protested a timber sale there 12 years ago. "The head of the Wilderness Society logging old growth in the Bitterroot Valley is roughly akin to the head of Human Rights Watch torturing a domestic servant," wrote The Nation. When asked if he didn't foresee the pot shots, Roush responded, "We needed the money for back taxes. I didn't see a penny of the money myself - it all went to Uncle Sam." Roush, who is getting a divorce, said he had to either cut or sell. Roush said the 420,000 board-foot sale was designed to promote forest health and the development of old-growth ponderosa pines. According to the contract, harvesters were required to use only existing roads, adhere to 50-foot buffers around streams, protect wildlife habitat and leave trees older than 90 years old. Roush said the sale was not inconsistent with the principles of the Wilderness Society, and that he has no plans to resign. "For most people it's a non-story."


*Elizabeth Manning