Re-Reinventing Rep. Les AuCoin (D-Big Timber)

Retired General George Armstrong Custer was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Bureau of Indian Affairs today.

Custer was backed by a long list of Native tribes, including the Sioux, the Chippewa, the Sauk, the Pottawatomie and the Fox. Standing Eagle of the Sioux praised Custer’s long experience with federal Indian policy but acknowledged that tribes often had their differences with him when he was in the military. (1)

“I fully support George Custer’s nomination to the Board of Governors and have no doubt that he will serve with integrity and distinction, and that the tribe will be proud to have supported his appointment. Each of us has made poor choices in the past that we now regret,” said Standing Eagle, a tribal council member. (2)

Rewarding Ecocide

I know. In a world where a Kissinger gets a Nobel Peace Prize, irony is dead. However, something quite akin to this above fantasy just took place in Oregon.

The Architect of Spotted Owl Extinction was just approved for appointment to the State’s Board of Forestry; NOT as yet another pro-Big Timber advocate, as are six of the seven board members, but as the Environmental Voice, backed by all the local, foundation-dependent “greens.”

Former Oregon Congressman Les AuCoin (D ­ OR) got the nod from a legislative panel earlier this week and was officially approved by the State Senate today. The above (1) is a take-off on this paragraph from The Oregonian’s coverage:

“AuCoin was backed by a long list of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, Oregon Trout and the Oregon Natural Resources Council. Jay Ward of the resources council praised AuCoin’s long experience with federal timber policy but acknowledged that environmentalists often had their differences with him when he was in Congress.”

(2) Above is a direct lift from a blindly anthropocentric missive in support for AuCoin’s appointment written by Jill Workman, a member of the Oregon Sierra Club’s Executive Committee.
The Architect of Spotted Owl Extinction

The facts? Here’s something I wrote last year on AuCoin’s actual Congressional record re: forests:

“Les AuCoin, famously described by Andy Kerr as “always having a smile that never reached his eyes” is one of the main Architects of Extinction, pure and simple. Between 1984 and 1989, environmental laws were either limited or eliminated for national forests in the Pacific Northwest nine different times. AuCoin joined with the Republicans and voted for every one of these assaults!

It was at AuCoin’s behest that his staff helped write the infamous Section 318 of the FY 1990 Appropriations Act for the Department of Interior and Related Agencies, the “Rider from Hell.” This one act led to the sale of over 9.6 billion board feet of timber in one year–130,000 acres of clearcut Ancient Forest–with all the relevant environmental laws suspended. The Rider from Hell suspended NFMA, NEPA, FLPMA, but it expressly said that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) still applied to those sales. That was the only way they could get around Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA) who had jurisdiction over the ESA — not that it mattered — the chainsaws roared.

Though Section 318 was AuCoin’s crowning achievement in years of pimping for Big Timber, it was just a fraction of what he did for the industry. AuCoin did all he could to abet public Ancient Forest logging levels which were at their all-time highest (up to 5 billion board feet per year) during his 18 years in the House — until 1992, when he barely beat true conservationist Harry Lonsdale in the primary fight to choose who would run against incumbent Senator Bob Packwood.

Upon launching his failed run for the Senate, AuCoin came to real forest advocates and announced that he “had found religion.” He told me personally that, “I was wrong. You guys were right.” Gulled by this lie, I even agreed to squire him around my downtown Salem one night during the campaign, introducing him to dozens of environmental and peace activists. During the campaign, Les AuCoin also pledged that he would never work for the timber industry again. Yet, within six months of his defeat, he took a job as a high-priced Big Timber lobbyist.

Upon leaving Congress, AuCoin took the job of lobbyist/PR hack for a timber baron, Aaron Jones, who financed not one, but TWO failed Recall efforts against courageous Democrat Governor Barbara Roberts. Seems she had the gall to tell the truth about protecting spotted owls and old growth ecosystems. At the time AuCoin’s employer was trying to cut her off at the knees, Roberts was dealing with her husband’s dying of cancer! Les AuCoin’s never apologized for this, for Section 318, his other many votes to suspend the laws to favor clearcutting our public Ancient Forests, for lying about the Timber Lobbying positions or any other of his timber toadying activities.”

Former Oregon Natural Resources Council Executive Director Larry Tuttle has this telling tale regarding AuCoin’s record of “integrity and distinction”: “Eight months after the (1992) election, I was invited to debate a timber industry representative at the San Diego meeting of the National Home Builders Association. Who showed up to represent the timber industry? Les AuCoin, as a newly minted lobbyist for the timber industry.”

It’s outrageous. The bankruptcy of the professional “greens” couldn’t be more evident. Just where do they get off unilaterally giving the craven creator of an on-going inter-species holocaust such a pass? They wouldn’t dare put it to a vote of their own memberships.

Even if this latest re-re-reinvention unlikely holds true, does Ecocide really have a Statute of Limitations? It’s as if Eichman all the sudden declared himself a Zionist and all was forgiven. After all, “each of us has made poor choices…”

PS “Standing Eagle” is an old tribal joke. The name is often given to white bureaucrats as it means “too full of shit to fly.” The white bureaucrat usually thinks it an honorific.

Support the Biscuit Forest Defenders

Dozens of courageous folks are camped out at the Biscuit Ancient Forest site in Les AuCoin’s Southern Oregon backyard. Yesterday, logging was delayed three hours by folks putting their lives on the line (literally, as they locked themselves by their necks to Government vehicles.) More is happening today. Their steadfast, capable and skilful attorneys are working overtime, as well.

They’ve (over 20 so far) been arrested, are sleeping out in the rain, are hungry and cold and are still committed. Check in on the website: http://www.cascadiarising.org/topic/siskiyou/

If you can send them a donation, please do. And, please pass the word; send this post far and wide.

$ can be sent to

Kalmiopsis EF!
PO Box 1669
Cave Junction, OR 97523

Checks can be made out to Kalmiopsis EF!

MICHAEL DONNELLY former vice-president of the Oregon Natural Resources Council and grassroots allies battled mightily to off-set the six million acres of large stumps resulting from Rep. Les AuCoin’s efforts over the course of his 18 years (1973- 1992) representing Big Timber in Congress.

He can be reached at: pahtoo@aol.com

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

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