Randal O'Toole and Jeffrey St. Clair aren't exactly household names. But tree-huggers know the pair as former publisher and editor of Forest Watch, a now-defunct national monthly. It folded last August after a decade covering the West's national forests.
Forest Watch had been an especially
reliable source of information on the crisis in the Northwest
forests. It was a successful collaboration between O'Toole, the
moderate economist, and St. Clair, the left-leaning
environmentalist. They produced some of the best analysis of
President Clinton's Forest Conference in Portland in a special
issue last summer.
Now the two are back in the
publishing business, but this time they are using new podiums to
attack each other. The fracas started in September with charges of
stolen checks, changed locks and missing mail. The dispute got so
nasty that Andy Kerr, the conservation director at the Oregon
Natural Resources Council, was brought in a couple of months ago to
mediate the fray - as well as sort the mail.
the first issue of his new magazine, the 30-page Wild Forest
Review, St. Clair goes for O'Toole's jugular. O'Toole cleaned out
the former Forest Watch offices, he charges, threatening to "sue us
for everything we had." St. Clair goes on to say this "isn't much,
since he (O'Toole) took all of Forest Watch's subscription revenues
and grant monies back to his Oak Grove, Ore., compound."
St. Clair longs for the old days, when O'Toole
was doing groundbreaking in-depth reviews of national forest plans
and publishing the noted book, Reforming the Forest Service (Island
Press, 1987). It exposed below-cost timber
O'Toole, meanwhile, has his gripes. He
says St. Clair has held back his mail and checks, a charge that
prompted Kerr to mediate. He is also critical of St. Clair's
editing of Forest Watch. Last month O'Toole mailed a letter to each
of his 1,000 subscribers, retracting and apologizing for articles
concerning Clinton's forest plan - known as Option 9 - that
appeared in the August 1993 issue. St. Clair wrote and edited that
"Jeff used the August issue to personally
attack several prominent forest scientists and environmental
attorneys without giving them a chance to respond, or even
interviewing them," O'Toole says. O'Toole's letter included an
angry response from lawyers Todd True and Vic Sher of the Sierra
Club Legal Defense Fund. They said they were upset with St. Clair's
accusation that the fund had sold out on an ancient forest deal
with President Clinton.
For several years Sher
and True have been on the front lines in the fight over Northwest
forests. The legal defense fund, which is not affiliated with the
Sierra Club, represents a dozen environmental groups that have
successfully employed a strategy of using the federal courts to
block timber sales in old-growth forests. These cases resulted in
findings by Federal Judge William Dwyer that the government's
timber sale program routinely had broken environmental laws, and
created the impasse which the Clinton plan attempted to
While environmentalists have praised the
lawyers' work, some criticized them last August when they agreed to
a deal with Clinton in which certain timber sales could resume in
exchange for the administration's promise to protect the groups'
right to continue filing lawsuits.
continues to divide conservationists (HCN, 12/27/93). On Jan. 31,
for example, The Oregon Natural Resources Council reversed its
position: It now opposes all logging on federal forests in the
O'Toole, meanwhile, is distancing
himself from extreme views. He says he shut down Forest Watch
because it was losing money and because it no longer represented
his more moderate opinions about forest
O'Toole has introduced his own 60-page
magazine, Different Drummer, that honors Henry David Thoreau as the
nation's first environmentalist, and discusses federal programs
ranging from Social Security to international
The writer lives in
Review, published by James Monteith and edited by Jeffrey St.
Clair, comes out 11 times a year. A subscription costs $25. The
address is Save the West Inc., 3785 SE Milwaukee, Portland, OR
97202. Different Drummer is a quarterly; a subscription is $21.95.
It is published and edited by Randal O'Toole, Cascade Holistic
Economic Consultants, 14417 SE Laurie, Oak Grove, OR