Fear of research

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  After getting hammered by protests from loggers on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, the Forest Service abruptly killed an old-growth research project it had backed for the last 18 months. University of Washington scientists wanted to erect a 300-foot crane to study one of the least known areas of old-growth forests - the canopy. The Olympic Peninsula setting was perfect, the crane was ready for construction, and Congress had approved five years of funding. But the Forest Service balked at the last minute after 200 residents of nearby Lake Quinault signed petitions against the crane. Citizens of the old logging community say more research would only shrink their already shrinking timber industry. Project director Jerry Franklin, a forestry professor at the University of Washington, called the protests a symbolic act of retribution. "They see science, scientists and scientific knowledge as a major source of their pain, rather than as a potential solution," Franklin told the Seattle Times. Franklin says he has given up hope of erecting the crane on the Olympic Peninsula, where the region's old growth is most productive and diverse. He says the university will look for new sites in the Columbia River gorge or central Oregon Cascade Range.