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Timber Wars

Society-and-culture • History • Science

It’s the 1990s in the Pacific Northwest. A march of chainsaws clear-cuts the country’s last available ancient forests. Protesters bury themselves in front of bulldozers and spend months sitting in the tallest trees in the world. And at the center, the northern spotted owl becomes the mostRead more

Popular episodes

Bonus Ep: Wildfire

Jan 28 • 44:19

In 2020, wildfires swept across the West, consuming millions of acres of forest and destroying thousands of homes and even whole communities. And sadly, this is just the beginning. Fire is the future here in the West. But what we often forget is that fire is also the past. It’s what our landscape has evolved with. The tricky question is figuring out how we fit into that.


Guest Ep: How to Save a Planet

Jan 22 • 01:00:27
In the final months of the Trump administration, there were a flurry of environmental rollbacks that hearkened back to the Timber Wars, including changes that would make it easier to log old trees and a huge reduction in the area protected for the northern spotted owl. So we wanted to bring you an episode from another podcast, "How to Save a Planet," that helps explain env...

Guest Ep: Grouse

Nov 21 • 19:01
If you’ve been enjoying Timber Wars, there’s a new show you should check out. It’s about a weird and wonderful bird: the greater sage-grouse. You’ll find these creatures in wide open sagebrush country, trying to hang on alongside oil and gas drilling, recreational activity, development and ranching, which puts them right in the center of a controversy that has a lot in com...

Bonus Ep: Big Money Bought the Forest

Nov 14 • 35:33
In 'Timber Wars,' we've talked about how the northern spotted owl took the blame for a lot of other things that cost jobs and hurt timber-dependent towns, like automation and international competition. Well, there was another huge thing the owl took the fall for—something that cost timber towns even more money than locking up the national forests, at least in Oregon.

In a ...

Ep 7: A Way Forward

Oct 3 • 39:20

Is the Northwest fatally divided, or can we overcome our differences and work together? We tell the story of one group of loggers and environmentalists who have found some semblance of common ground. But it didn’t come easy. And no one knows how long it’ll last.

If you want to learn more about the Timber Wars, you can find the additional reading list we mention, plus a tran...

Ep 6: The Backlash

Sep 22 • 34:11

Ep 5: The Plan

Sep 21 • 39:29

The Timber Wars grew so hot that one of President Clinton’s first acts in office was to fly half his cabinet to Portland to resolve the conflict. The result was the Northwest Forest Plan, the most sweeping conservation plan in U.S. history. But it might never have happened if not for some behind-the-scenes dramas that played out in a Capitol Hill bathroom-turned-office and...

Ep 4: Mill City

Sep 21 • 34:40

Ep 3: The Owl

Sep 21 • 34:40

Throughout the 80s, environmentalists lost in the woods and in the courtrooms. There just weren’t many laws that protected trees. But there were laws that protected animals. And the idea started to percolate: what if they could protect the old growth by protecting an animal that depended on it.

Depending on who you are, the northern spotted owl is either the hero of this st...

Ep 2: The Ancient Forest

Sep 21 • 34:03

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