I was always welcomed there

  • Terry Terhaar, environmentalist

    Frans Lanting

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

Terry Terhaar worked for the nonprofit Pacific Rivers Council in 1995. She spent 10 months attending Quincy Library Group meetings. Before that, she was a regional vice president for the Sierra Club in northern California and Nevada. She is now a graduate student at Yale Forestry School. This summer, she worked on her master's thesis as an employee of Weyerhaeuser Corp.

Terry Terhaar: "The Quincy Library Group was fascinating to observe. At times they would yell and scream at each other. Many times they'd cry or laugh and joke. They saw themselves as an entity united against the world, it seemed like. It was the most interesting exercise I've ever seen, watching them learn how to treat each other with respect.

"During those 10 months, I saw two other outside environmentalists come up for one meeting each. Other than that, I was it. I was always welcomed there. I never saw a single closed door. I was sitting at the table; I participated in their discussions. I'd offer suggestions.

"The fundamentals were that they had a deal. They were going to resolve it together. I couldn't disrupt that deal. But I could influence all of the details between the broad planks. And I believe I did.

"The whole thing had a big impact on me. Sierra Pacific Industries had shown up on the environmentalists' doorstep. Industry felt like it had no other options. That was a time when the environmentalists thought the sky was the limit. But to their credit, they said: "They're offering us what we said we wanted, and that's what we want." They might have said, "We're going to ask for more," but they didn't.

"I was at the Quincy Library Group meeting when the tables turned, after the Republicans took control of the Congress. Michael Jackson put the question to the timber people: "Do we still have a deal? Are you going to honor your agreement, or are you going to back out?"

"Tom Nelson of Sierra Pacific Industries looked at Jackson and said: 'No, a deal's a deal.' "

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