The politics of caring for Mother Nature

Shaun Hall, Grants Pass Daily Courier, February 6, 2018

Speakers at an environmental forum in Grants Pass on Saturday tried to tiptoe around hot-button issues, but sometimes they just couldn’t avoid it.

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“I was told not to get too political,” said local middle school teacher Bob Bath, taking the stage at the Wild River Pub wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word RESIST.

And push back he did, in large part, mainly by suggesting ways people could avoid waste in a world of consumer goods and energy gluttony. One of Bath’s 25 or so suggestions was to go ahead and obtain
solar panels, despite tariffs placed on them by “the current president.”

The forum was sponsored by Rogue Indivisible, a liberal advocacy group formed in response to President Donald Trump’s election. About 80 people were in attendance Saturday.

Speaker Jack Shipley didn’t come close to avoiding politics — he spoke of the politics of timber and environmental activism — although he spoke mainly of the last 25 years, since the founding of the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council.

Shipley spoke about patience and listening and compromise.

“We would sue anything that had a pulse,” he said, remembering the old days. “We were winning the battle, but losing the war.”

But, environmental degradation continued, calling for a new approach. Shipley said he learned about lobbying, working with big business and government, and even sending the right person to pitch an idea.

“In many cases, you have to send the right messenger, if you want to get the right answer,” he said.

And he spoke of forbearance in the face of political changes in Congress, the White House
and federal forest management agencies, something he likened to shifting winds.

“We need to manage these ecological systems over time with continuity,” he said.

The partnership’s activities includes work to remove barriers in waterways, mainly on federal land, in order to make them more fish-friendly.

“It’s critical we start to collaborate,” he said. “It takes time and energy.”

Some of the speakers said the challenges ahead include reduced federal funding for fire management and recreational activities. Several urged the thinning of clogged forests.

Also speaking at the forum was Alan Journet of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, who was introduced as a “master climate protector.”

He spoke about rising temperatures in the valley, and how temperatures this century have been the hottest on record, with higher temperatures to come this century — reaching 8 degrees hotter on average,
unless human carbon emissions change.

“Medford is going to be like Redding (California) is now,” Journet said.

Higher temperatures threaten fish runs and western Oregon forest stands, he said. Also, the higher the temperature, the greater the fire danger, with fire season already 2.5 months longer than in the 1970s, he
said.

“Climate seems to be the most profound predictor of fire,” he said.

Journet said the emissions causing the temperature rises were related to transportation, energy consumption and consumer consumption.

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