He found spotted owls; the agency ignored them

  • Peter Galvin examines stump of 400-year-old ponderosa pine

    Robin Silver photo
 

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

Peter Galvin: "I had cancer when I was 15, and it very much changed my life. I had been captain of my junior varsity basketball team, but after that, things just changed. I didn't want to go out and get drunk on Friday night. I had a sense that I didn't have an unlimited amount of time, and that I wanted to make my life count for something. I ended up going to private school for my last two years of high school and got exposed to a lot of interesting things - activism.

"Later, working for the Forest Service was a real eye-opening experience. I got to see the underside of the agency. We would find spotted owls and report them, and then the Forest Service would not set up a territory for them. I was getting paid to look for those owls, so I had some obligation in the winter when they were planning the timber sales to follow up and see what was happening. So we started appealing all the timber sales we were surveying in the summer.

"It was so transformative, learning that there was so much wilderness left. The giant trees. The firs. The pines. And seeing spotted owls. It's a really powerful experience to be awake all night - with the elk bugling. One night I got swooped by a great horned owl, so that I had to dive down on the ground.

"I got to talk to a lot of Forest Service people, who told us the truth. One admitted that all the steep-slope logging they'd been doing had been because they felt guilty that the contractor had bought one of those machines for steep-slope logging. There was just this rambling human factor and you realize that how these decisions get made sometimes is just crazy. We'd talk to a bunch of old-timers, who would just say that they didn't believe they should log any more old growth, lamenting how diminished the forest was.

"This epoch we're living in, it's like an apocalypse, and we're in it. The sense of urgency that the wildlife is dying. That's the single most important thing, that sense of history.

"So many decisions get made that are unjust, that end up destroying the environment, the wildlife and the plants and stuff. They need advocates. It's the way our society works. I decided from an early age: I'm going to be an advocate for plants and wildlife. You've got advocates for everything else, but who's going to advocate for the plants and animals - the loach minnow, and the spikedace, the riffle beetle, and the water umbels?"

High Country News Classifieds
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...