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for people who care about the West

National groups were latecomers

  Dear HCN,

In his opinion piece on the demise of the New World Mine outside Yellowstone (HCN, 9/2/96), Rocky Barker writes: "Just as important was the fact that the grass roots led the fight. If national environmental groups had taken the lead as they did in the Northwest's ancient forest campaign, my guess is that the mine fight would still be tangled in the larger agenda ..."

I don't know where Mr. Barker was during the 1980s and early "90s, but he was not in Oregon. The fight to protect ancient forests in the Northwest was fought primarily by local groups, mainly the Oregon Natural Resources Council (out of Portland). Earth First! and others worked for years on the issue before national groups noticed their successes and began to include ancient forests in their fund-raising campaigns as if the effort was their idea all along. ONRC and others were succeeding in nationalizing the ancient forest issue before The Wilderness Society and Sierra Club moved in.

Ultimately, the national groups took the spotlight from environmentalists in Seattle, Eugene, Portland, Eureka and Grants Pass. But those of us who lived in the region during those years have no doubt who did the hard work on this issue, and who was the late interloper.

Tom Ribe

Santa Fe, New Mexico