How the Les AuCoin Express Was Really Derailed

The post-mortems have been flying the past week regarding the failed nomination of Les AuCoin to the Oregon Board of Forestry. Not a one, so far, has mentioned the role played by true Ancient Forest activists who rebelled at the thought of the Architect of Ancient Forest Destruction being touted as the “green” representative to the board. While it’s nice to operate under the radar, sometimes one needs the whole story.


The Official Story

Though Oregonian writer Jeff Mapes knows for certain the role former board members and officials of the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC), among others, played in derailing the nomination, he never mentions this opposition from AuCoin’s left and writes it off to slow-witted Governor Ted Kulongoski’s “failure to communicate” with rural interests and Senate Democrats’ ineptitude as the majority party. Mapes goes so far as to imply that AuCoin knowingly did the Democrats a favor by writing the widely-distributed toxic E-mail that did him in.
One Courageous Senator Held the Line

Though he knows ALL the real reasons, Mapes also claims that Sen. Vicki Walker’s (D-Eugene) principled challenge to the nomination was motivated solely by “a sympathetic column AuCoin wrote about disgraced former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt” who has admitted a years’ long rape of a woman who was 14-years-old when it began back when Goldschmidt was a 35-year-old golden boy Portland Mayor.

Fair enough. Though she did hear from constituents concerned about AuCoin’s Big Timber past and that did play into it, Sen. Walker has been the sole elected official brave enough to go after Goldschmidt and his many sycophants — like AuCoin. The outcome as a result of AuCoin’s fawning defense of Goldschmidt was correctly predicted by the Portland Tribune upon first getting word of the nomination.

Of course, given that AuCoin’s sympathy lay with an admitted child rapist, one he stated was “still a friend” in the offending article, AuCoin’s poor judgment on that issue alone would seem reason enough to deny him a seat on any governmental board.

As usual, Mapes only consults with the insider “greens.” He again quotes solely Mary Anne Gest, the top AuCoin “green” enabler, who is paid by the foundation front group The Tillamook Rainforest Coalition, which itself is a subsidiary of the Wild Salmon Center, Inc. This Wild Salmon Center is a $3 million a year operation with no memberships, no membership funding (read: no grassroots accountability) — totally a foundation front and something of a weird eco-tourism “catch the last wild salmon in Russia” entity.

Gest was a lobbyist for the state’s unions back when AuCoin was suspending the laws and facilitating the horrid cuts of public ancient forests. The unions were one of the main obstacles for conservationists trying to end the slaughter back then, especially the Carpenter’s Union.


Chainsaw the Messenger

Though the media have yet to note the role played by real conservationists, AuCoin’s backers sure know. One of the insiders from these astroturf groups wrote me a series of threatening e-mails after I outed AuCoin’s actual forest record on CounterPunch, stating amongst other things: “So do us all a favor. Go climb a tree and stay there. I’d by happy to cut the tree down and take your sorry ass with it!”

And, “My credibility is irrelevant. Yours is what is on the line and I WILL BURY YOU!”

(Of course, when the timber industry starts cutting trees, it’s not personal.)

A whole series of anti-Donnelly, amazingly pro-AuCoin missives has also been bouncing around the moneyed groups’ discussion lists. I have ironically been called a “traitor.” My exposé of Les AuCoin’s actual eco-record was dismissed as “amusing, but not at all useful.”

(Where’s Joe Pesci when we need him? “You find ecocide ‘amusing?’ Millions of acres of ancient stumps ‘amuse’ you?”)

Another deluded staffer of a “green” group claimed that “AuCoin has written extensively about protecting forests in Jefferson Monthly and has been heard by many on Jefferson Public Radio something Donnelly wrote in an obscure leftist journal is irrelevant.”

Last I checked Jefferson Monthly has 4000 readers. Jefferson Public Radio has about 8000 daily listeners. CounterPunch has about a 100,000 daily readers! “Obscure” to these folks has about as true a meaning as “forest defender” and “balance” when applied to Les AuCoin.


Unbalanced? Indeed

The ultimate deceit in all this is that these enablers all cite the fact that the Board of Forestry is “unbalanced” with six of seven positions held by folks with direct financial ties to the timber industry — in violation of state law. All from Gov. Teddy K. on down cite the need for “balance” as the reason for the AuCoin nomination. They all conveniently fail to note AuCoin’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in pay received from his timber industry bosses over the years, not to mention campaign contributions. Nor do they ever call for appointment of an independent, grassroots activist, one who is not getting any paychecks from a “green” group, to the board.

The guy Les AuCoin was supposed to replace on the board, Chris Heffernan, happens to be the Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year, managing his plantations in a more proven method than the “collaborative greens” now want to use on our public plantations. All these “greens” are aghast that a tree farmer of such high profile is on the board, though they remained silent when he was put there by Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Pro-Democrat Big Greens aren’t the only hypocrites here. Big Timber has seized on the “slight” to a noted tree farmer. However, when Kitzhaber’s predecessor, the great Gov. Barbara Roberts nominated Tree Farmer of the Year and ONRC member Bill Obertorfer to the board, it was scuttled by these same industry hacks now opposed to AuCoin. Of course, Obertorfer, brother of disgraced former Sen. Bob Packwood’s first wife, was not supported by these same AuCoin “greens.”

And, oh yeah, the reason the board is “unbalanced” after 18 years of Democrat Governors appointing members of the board? Kulongoski appointed/reappointed the current “unbalanced” board as a sop to Republicans so as to grease the way for his November 2003 appointment of none other than Neil Goldschmidt, former governor and self-confessed child rapist, to run the state’s Board of Higher Education.

(As one wag noted: “Thank God it wasn’t Secondary Ed.”)

MICHAEL DONNELLY recently visited a twenty-year-old monoculture thicket of a plantation. It resulted from AuCoin’s 1984 suspension of the laws. AuCoin’s supporters are now touting “restoration” logging in the millions of acres of plantations to help them “regain old growth characteristics.”

He can be reached at






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