Another Election Year: Another Democrat Candidate Promises to Save the Ancient Forests

Logging operations on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington Cascades. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Here we go again. On Tuesday, candidate Joe Biden announced that he will save the remnants of our once-vast Northwest Ancient Forests once re-elected. The fine print is that it will come by Executive Order in 2025… only if re-elected.

In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton made the same promise. He would protect the forests “first thing” once elected. Once elected, Clinton set up a classic dog and pony show in Portland, Oregon. His “summit” with dozens of pro-Big Timber politicians, Big Timber company owners and hand-picked professional environmental advocates eventually led to his Northwest Forest Plan (NFP).

(Some 70,000 attended our free concert/rally in Portland’s Waterfront Park that same April 1, 1993, showing Clinton, Gore, et al. as they helicoptered over the largest political rally in state history just how much support for protection there was.)

Big “Green” and Forest Ecologists Collusion

Prior to it all, the professional “greens” agreed to surrender the hard-won Injunction that had stopped Ancient Forest liquidation under Bush the Elder. A team of forest scientists was charged with coming up with the NFP. They came up with eight options. Not one of them cut enough trees to satisfy Big Timber. So, they were sequestered in a Portland hotel until they came up with an Option 9, which of course, allowed for more stump-creation.

The Big (and local) “Green” groups involved all praised the Option 9 Plan and even called it “a great victory,” as they cashed their six-figure corporate foundation grant pay-offs.

Since that sell-out, some 224,000 acres of Northwest Ancient Forests have been leveled! 

So, now we have another campaign promise to stop the logging that depends on electing the promiser. And in this case, said promiser could stop it immediately with an Executive Order. Instead, we have a redo of Clinton’s “Elect me. I am the Eco-candidate” sham.

And some of the same Foundation-dependent bad actors are still around and touting Biden’s promise! What’s that famous line about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? (The “greens” here are not gullible fools. They know the stakes. They have been completely absorbed by the Democratic Party and dependent on Foundation grants from fossil fuel-based foundations tied to the Democrats. THIS dynamic is why we lose.)

As I always note: if you really want to know what is going on in US politics, read the Foreign Press: The Guardian had this to say: “The ban will come into effect in early 2025, allowing time for the Forest Service to finalize rules that will protect old-growth forests from logging. Because it comes under an executive order, its existence depends on the outcome of the 2024 presidential election…” 

PS: The Guardian article on it surpasses any I have read in the US Press. Its feature photo is one of none other than me standing next to two giants that was taken by Gannett Outdoors writer Zach Urness, deep off-trail in the Opal Creek Wilderness, a spectacular 35,000 acres of lower elevation Ancient Forest set-aside in 1996 after our two-decade-plus hard-won protection effort.

Even when we succeed, there are other ways to lose: The entire Opal Creek Wilderness burned in a wildfire that started as a small lightning fire that was left by the Forest Service to smolder for three weeks during Red Flag conditions. The fire blew up in an officially-determined Climate Change (Carbon Pollution)-caused conflagration that burned 200,000 acres, destroyed 4000 structures and killed five people, including my friend and ally Opal Creek Champion George Atiyeh.

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