Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Final Forest by William Dietrich

Forks, Washington is known today as the place where vampires and werewolves fight to protect the life of Bela Swan in the Twilight movies.

But another battle has been raging in and around Forks for years, equally as harsh, violent, and bitter.

The Final Forest: The Battle for the Last Great Trees of the Pacific Northwest by author William Dietrich tells the story of the debate over logging the last remaining ancient forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  The struggle between environmentalists who want to protect a rich historic natural preserve versus the logging industry that for a century was the dominant industry in the area is played out against the needs of those caught in the middle, the men and women who need jobs to support their families and customers for their shops.

I enjoyed this book much more than I anticipated.  I expected a biased account of the land use and natural resource debate, a "green" truth if you will.  But I was wrong, dead wrong, and happy to admit it.  The author has a flair for tellings stories and it shows.  Whether he is discussing industry numbers or the struggle of some average person worried about their future now that their company and their job are gone, The Final Forest is always compelling, a real achievement given the subject matter and its frequent density.

This book is a MUST READ for anyone who believes the environmental or historic debates when land use is concerned is a simple issue, just about numbers and profits and little else.  It is the residents of the area who bear the brunt and pay the price for many public decisions, unfairly sometimes, wrong in others.

I can't recommend this book more highly.  Kudos to Mr. Dietrich.

For the record, I do not know the author but I am now a fan and can't wait to read more.