Posted on July 20, 2016 by Gwendolyn Endicott


For years now, I have been trying to show others why our native forests are valuable, how they are composed of an intricate and interwoven community of plants and animals forming a diversity and balance that is a living forest. I could understand cutting trees, but why would anyone want to kill the whole forest?

It was with a jolt that I recently discovered how big timber companies (who own 70% of Oregon’s forest land ) can destroy forests and leave the scraped hillsides we see all around us—above Wheeler, along Hwy 53…wherever you live. The reason is–they do not care. They do not care about what happens to the earth and waters, animals and birds, plants and trees, in the area they manage. Nor do they care about what happens to the adjacent communities. That is not their purpose.

Their purpose is to make money for their investors.  Of course, their investors do not work or live in the local community.  They are more likely connected to financial centers in Hong Kong, London, Wall Street, or Panama.  Nor can we say that local jobs are generated by the logging, since huge machines, not loggers, are used to bring down the forest.  Nor are other jobs given to locals, but rather workers are brought in who will take the lowest possible wages. The goal is to generate as much money as quickly as possible and with as little expense as possible. Hence, clear cut.

Nor do these big corporations that use and pollute our resources contribute to local, state, or federal taxes. Set up as a Timber Investment Management Organization, if they give 90% of their profits to their investors (who do not live locally), they are exempt from Federal Income taxes.  In addition, they pay almost no property tax in support of county government for local services.

Let’s see. How does that add up? Barren hills; no contribution to the community through jobs, business, or taxes.  Degradation of the landscape through clear cutting, herbicides, burning. Increased pressure on state managed forests to cut more in order to supply income needed for counties…

Question is– Why are we so quietly letting this happen?

*For more detailed information  see the recent newsletter of Coast Range Association, authored by Chuck Willer

Posted on July 17, 2016 by Gwendolyn Endicott

My daughter arrived from Portland having driven through the Coast Range on Highway 53. She had a question:  “They have signs up in the clear cuts that say ‘replanted in 2016’–why don’t they say what they took?” It was a question I had asked myself. In fact, I had even fantasized about signs.  I drove through that area when huge machines were cutting the forest (not the trees, the forest!). The forest lay on the ground fully clothed with branches, the air filled with the scent of conifer. I drove through again when there were burn piles, barren earth and yes, “two trees and two logs per acre for the wildlife.”  At this time, in my outrage, my sign would have simply said: RAPE!

Later, I wanted to post a sign that said: CLEARCUT IN 2016:  Among the Dead– 98 native plants, ferns, mosses, fungi, the soil itself; Those left homeless– frogs, salamanders, birds, animals …The problem was, of course, that I very quickly ran out of space on the sign. When we clear cut a natural forest, we are losing not only the trees we are losing a myriad of native plants, many medicinal; fungi and microorganisms in the soil that nurture forest growth; ferns that hold the soil in place; mosses that act as a sponge, soaking up the rain into the forest floor; the understory of red and blue huckleberry, salal, wild azalea,  elderberry, cascara, and vine maple; Alder, putting nitrogen into the earth through the nodules on its roots and giving its body to the earth after 60 or 70 years so that conifer can grow towards the sun;  Cedar, rich in medicine, and beautiful of wood; Hemlock, growing everywhere and rapidly—off logs and stumps and from the forest floor; and majestic Spruce, offering stout limbs for nesting of birds and squirrels. And I still have not named the birds, animals, amphibians, butterflies, insects that are at home in the forest.

But, of course, it is futile to try to name everything in a forest. And if you could, you still would not have captured it—for the forest, itself, is alive. But to name nothing at all, to ignore that it is a living system, one that cannot be “replanted,” makes it easy to destroy because, you see, it does not even exist.

Somehow, as a culture, we have gotten ourselves into this fix where we believe nature is inanimate, separate from us, and there only for our use. Derrick Jensen calls it “The Myth of Human Supremacy” in his recent book of that title. Believing this, we do not need to name or know what we destroy, we can simply take. The Welsh people had a word for the feeling of love and belonging to the land—hiraeth. Families and clans that lived generation after generation in the same place experienced a deep knowing of the land that did not translate simply as “ownership.” There is no parallel to that word in English. But perhaps getting ourselves into this place of separation, we are beginning to understand what the native people of this land lived.

Robert Lawler (VOICES OF THE FIRST DAY, 1991) points out that “in witnessing the dying of the natural world around us and in ourselves, we have at last been able to see that the earth is living.” In our time, Lawlor says, the word indigenous, which means “born from” or “being an integral part of a place,” has come to symbolize the rediscovery that our race is inseparable from earth and nature as a whole.” I am still waiting for this knowing to filter down to the management of our forests on the North Oregon Coast.

Thirty years ago, I came across a little book called THINKING LIKE A MOUNTAIN (John Seed, Joanna Macy and others). The mission of the book was to help people rediscover their relationship with the myriad creatures of Earth through exercises in empathy, meditations, and ritual—and particularly through creating a group ritual called “A Council of All Beings” where participants became the voice of a plant or animal– and humans listened.

Perhaps this lay in the back of my mind this morning as I sat here pondering the clear cut hills and writing one more letter to the editor—trying—again– to explain the real “value” of a forest. For what slipped out instead probably does not fit on the editorial page, but left me with the fantasy of hearing many voices speaking for those who do not have voices to say–the forest, the rivers and streams, the ocean, the fishes and animals…..Here is what the forest had to say through me. Perhaps, as “comment” you could…for what you love…give it voice.


In this time when there is much discussion of how to get the greatest “value” from the forest; in this time when even the word “forest” is being forgotten as it is divided into units and by percentages–its value judged by “timber production”—

If the forest had a voice to say what it means to be alive, trees moving in the wind, the song of wind breathing the fragrance of cedar, hemlock, spruce…If the forest could say what it means to be alive with creatures, the scurrying of animals and the calling of birds through branches and leaves…If the forest could say how the rain and mist filter through, saturating , until the forest itself is raining into mosses and creeks…if the forest could say how sun rays touch the plants and forest floor, transforming green into a world of rainbows, every breath fresh and clean…

If you could pause a moment to breathe her in; if you could pause for a moment to hear her sing—perhaps you would understand what true value is. Something we do not want to lose; something we are responsible for; something our children’s children’s children should be able to know. gwendolyn

Posted on May 29, 2016 by Gwendolyn Endicott

What ARE they saying?

As I pull the car into a parking place at the State Park, I glance in the rear view mirror and see a deer standing by the road, still as a statue. She is a little bit ragged as if she has seen some years of experience.  I wait. She doesn’t move.  Finally, I get the dogs out of the car and manage to maneuver them down the path away from her.  Thirty minutes later, back from our walk, I see she is still there.  Is this even possible? I wonder, that she has stood in that same pose in that same place for thirty minutes? For a moment, I have the irrational thought that she is a statue, not a live deer at all. But I watch her as we pull out, and she suddenly runs gracefully across the street into the area where we had been.  For days, she inhabits my mind—her stillness, her watchfulness.  I puzzle over her. This morning in my meditation, she tells me: “Don’t do anything–just be there. Be aware of what surrounds you.  Inherent in stillness is ability to respond.”

The animals continue to appear as if on purpose. A few days ago an eagle flew about twenty feet above and ahead of my car as I traveled down North Fork rd. I tried not to think of myself as prey, but rather as being guided by a magnificent force.  This morning, it was a white dove, flying in front of me on the same stretch of road.  Made me smile, it was so beautiful.  At the park, I watch a man in conversation with a crow, perched a few feet from him. Crow spoke. Man spoke. Crow spoke. Man spoke. Between them, they found a language of mutual understanding, which ended with a bread crumb.  Evening in the forest, Bard owls call back and forth across the garden, talking a language I can almost understand, dark shadows flying tree to tree.  I stand here, listening.

Posted on May 29, 2016 by Gwendolyn Endicott


If you live in the Nehalem River Valley you have probably had this experience—years of driving by a forest, probably thinking it will always be there; then one day, you see the whole forest, trees still fully clothed with branches, laying on the ground—only the scent remains, the fragrance of forest, wafting through the car, as you notice the huge machines stripping and stacking the trees like toothpicks. The next time you drive through, there are burn piles and probably the remaining two straggly trees per acre required by law “for the wildlife.”

Even though the evidence is mounting that clearcutting of the forests is a bad idea on every level from environmental to economic (jobs and county money), both Oregon Department of Forestry and the BLM have proposed an increase in clearcutting (ODF 21% and BLM 30%). So the government bodies that “manage” our forests are moving ever closer to the practices of private industry, governed by an obsolete and ineffective Forest Practices Act. As Roger Dorbend points out in his recent article in Hipfish, “Dear Bernie Sanders,” (A Forest For the Trees Segment), “the state of Oregon was the first state ever to suffer the ignominy of losing federal grant money for failure to meet EPA standards for clean water in our coastal streams.” For a clearly written and enlightening account of the situation for Oregon forests, be sure to read Donbend’s account. (May 16, Hipfish)

Then go to the North Coast State Forest Coalition website; click on “ACT”; this website has set up a clear and easy way to express your opinion to those who might have the power to change the practices that are destroying our native forest habitat.

While you are there, click on the Homesteader clearcut to see what has happened to the forest that so many of us spoke out for (almost 2,000 people). The photos will show you graphically what “sustainable forestry” means to ODF and Boise Cascade. I am sure they are feeling proud that they have left 5 trees per acre, instead of the two required — for the wildlife. Now imagine all the wildlife of the forest hanging from these five trees—staring down at the barren earth, wondering what to eat! (Someone should create a tee shirt with this scene to illustrate the Oregon Forest Practices Act!) Don’t forget to remind yourself what this 125 year old forest looked like before—illustrated with the photos and commentary under “Homesteader” on this website. This is one of the most frightening trends: the clearcutting of older, complex forests. They are not replaceable. There really should be a sign posted on site that says:

DEAD: 85 native plant species; frogs, salamanders, lichens, mosses, fungi…and the forest soil itself.

Roger Dorbend concludes his article in Hipfish, by quoting Bernie Sanders—it is “only when the public finds the courage to demand change that change will come. We need to make politicians feel the heat before they will actually DO SOMETHING.” Write, speak out, in any way you can. gallery13

Posted on March 11, 2016 by Gwendolyn Endicott


It is the middle of the night and I am sound asleep, the dogs peacefully sleeping alongside me. Suddenly, there is a loud BOOM! against the side of the house, in fact, right against my bedroom.  I sit bolt upright. Snowfire leaps onto the bed. Dreya rushes around the room. What just happened? It is totally quiet. Nothing else, except the soft sound of rain in the forest around me.  Puzzled, the next day I look for branches or a fallentree. Nothing. Later a friend tells me I have most likely experienced a “Touch Down Wind,” or “microburst”—a blast of wind, extremely foreceful because of its focus, channeled down a narrow passage toward a target.

“Perhaps that will help,” I think, “a knock in the side of the head, a change of focus.” I had been stuck in depression and negativity for days and days.  It came right along with the strange cold virus that grabbed me by the throat while I was still recovering from a health crisis in January.  All I could do was bundle up to walk the dogs and then crawl back into bed and feel miserable.  But the worst part was that wherever I looked seemed dismal.  The forest, so saturated with  rain, several big alder just tipped over. The grey endless rain…the political charade…the clearcut hills….even the little nicks in people’s  comments to me…but worst of all, the way my mind magnetized self criticism—memories, thoughts of failing, of falling short….

I knew I was caught in a mind trap. I had been here before.  It is when your mind only magnetizes the bleak, the dark, the hopeless, the depressing….and when this happens, you start making it larger, repeating it to others, emanating the hopelessness.  I drove four hours South, along with my cold and the dogs, to a favorite place by the ocean.  I spent two days listening to the ocean and watching it swell, and break on the rocks.

Then, a very simple thing happened: I remembered a practice I had forgotten for some time. Each day take a mental picture of moments of Beauty as they occur and then, at night replay them: the beauty of my dogs running free and wild on the beach, the first shaft of gold of a skunk cabbage pushing through the mud; the sun sparkling rainbows on needles of Hemlock, the welcoming smile of a waitress, first trilliums opening in their white purity…

An errand took me across the Nehalem River Valley, southwest toward the ocean. My journey took me through those dismal cow pastures, full of muck and smell. Then suddenly The Real World cracked open like an egg, and there was such Beauty all around me—a moment of sun, a burst of light, giant cumulous clouds backlit in gold, rimming the horizon like an etheric mountain range, full of radiant light. The earth glowed with the early gold/green of Spring.  Within the hour, the grey blanket of clouds and drizzle had moved back in, but I was left with the gift.  I think I am finally emerging.  (I am sure it also helps that the virus that has been riding me has begun to let go!)

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“The Spinning Wheel jumped off the shelf into my hands years ago. Working with myth, storytelling, art and the path of the hero for the last 20 years, The Spinning Wheel parallels my philosophy, my programs and many of the aspects of my work. I have used it as a reference all these years and it never fails to inspire me …”

Carol Freya Soth, Co-founder of The Mythic Road and The Brave Life Initiative