portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

forest defense

Our Forests Deserve Better Than Smokey

Smokey The Bear as a symbol of forest stewardship has become old, soft and tired. It's time to look for a new kick ass spokesman with the proper direction and message . . .
The artwork of a spotted owl disemboweling Smokey The Bear reminded me of how old, soft and tired Smokey the Bear has become. Artist Albert Staehle ushered him into existence years ago at the behest of the Forest Service, government employees wove a tearful tale about how a burned bear cub was discovered clinging to a tree after a terrible forest fire and . . . low and behold . . . Smokey walked the earth with his slogan, "REMEMBER, ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES." Things have changed. Our biggest problem isn't merely forest fires. And we've discovered something that the native Americans have known for years . . . that small fires over time are nature's way of keeping a forest healthy. Smokey's mantra is part of the reason that we experience such out of control conflagurations today; when the underbrush continues to pile up unimpeded it's gonna burn baby burn like there's no tomorrow when it's hit by lightning or fields a cigarette butt. Outdoors writer Tim Cahill has explained better than I could hope to why "Woodsey Owl" was a miserable failure as a forest ambassador. Who can take a child-sized, skipping owl in a hat that shrills, "Give a hoot! Don't pollute!" seriously? Notice he disappeared pretty damned fast? What we need is a serious ambassador for America's Forests. Something like a giant Roc that screams down on offenders, plucks them up in its talons and yells, "Pollute or clear cut old growth and your guts are mine." Of maybe one of those giant animated old-growth Ent kick-ass trees from Lord of the Rings, stalking around thundering, "Leave Us Alone" or "Respect Your Elders . . . or else". These would be reasonable mascots . . . they'd allow sensible forest management. Just don't cross 'em!
image for feature 03.Sep.2003 22:23

friend of CFD

nice graphic, eh?