Last November, I was in the White House, having secured an appointment with the Clinton administration to talk about the salvage-logging rider. I wore the same suit as when I was arrested for civil disobedience two days before - now somewhat scuffed up. We started into discussions about the terrible impact of the rider, and it was friendly as it had been in the past, but going nowhere. I finally exploded: "Look, we are all here in this comfortable place, talking the polite Washington talk as if this were just another issue. But I have been there ... there is pain and anguish out there ... we must repeal this rider."
I told the stories, especially that of 17-year-old Melissa Wilmoth, who was one of about a dozen high school kids arrested Oct. 30, along with former Indiana Rep. Jim Jontz and Charlie Ogle, Eugene, Ore., businessman and Sierra Club chapter president for Oregon.
Melissa and I had been chained to trees for about eight hours, and at one point she asked me if all this was hopeless, if all the old trees would be gone and no great forests left. There were tears in her eyes. I have never seen such brave people as these kids. We were all scared that day but they never showed it.
I told Melissa that we had taken on the industry and would beat them in spite of their money and their bought politicians. Now, 11 long months have passed and we have not yet repealed the rider (HCN, 9/2/96). Still, Clinton and Gore have acknowledged that signing it was a big mistake, and Republicans are running for cover. I believe it is because mainstream America keeps saying: "Stop it."
Brock Evans is a consultant to the National Audubon Society.