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Shannon Wilson

"I can go to places where trees are still standing because I was there to make it happen," says Shannon Wilson. "I've been involved in stopping 20 to 30 timber sales, mostly in western Oregon." When he was eight, Wilson's parents moved from Santa Rosa, California, where his three older brothers were getting into parties and fights, to rural southern Oregon, four miles from Selma in the Siskiyou Mountains. He learned to identify birds and trees. At 14, he joined an environmental group fighting a proposed nickel strip mine on nearby Eight Dollar Mountain. "It set the direction for the rest of my life," he says. He got a two-year degree in forestry and a job with the Forest Service, locating Northern Spotted Owl nests in the Umpqua National Forest. "The district ranger was breaking the law in multiple ways," he says. "I quit and called the whistle-blower hot line, but nothing happened." Wilson moved to Eugene in 1991 and found seasonal work with the BLM, surveying Marbled Murrelets in the Siuslaw drainage. He also began working with the Oregon Natural Resources Council and South Willamette Earth First! When he again found "shady stuff going on," he quit the BLM in 1994. Since 1995, when Bill Clinton signed the "logging without laws" Salvage Rider, sparking the Warner Creek Blockade, he has worked without pay as a grassroots organizer, defending ancient forests. His own non-profit, EcoAdvocates NW, launched in 1998, has recently put up billboards and radio ads to admonish Senator Ron Wyden, along with other Democrats and environmental NGOs, for backing legislation that undermines environmental standards to accommodate increased logging. Look for his big green pickup (it runs on veggie oil) with the billboard in back.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 22 October 2015

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