Saturday, July 08, 2006

Killing fish by ignoring science

Fish would have been among the losers if important research on logging effects had been censored. Fortunately, this time the truth came out and contrite officials have been forced to apologize.

The controversy started when Daniel Donato, a graduate student at Oregon State University (affectionately known as Timber State U in the region), discovered that salvage logging slowed regrowth of a forest after a fire.

Big deal, right? People discover things all the time. But when he tried to publish his findings in a prestigious scientific journal, he and his co-authors found themselves attacked by Professors, University officials, an Oregon state senator, a federal agency, and some members of the US Congress. Yikes!

I've seen similar power plays in support of logging when I was working on watershed and salmon health in Oregon, and it's not a pretty sight. I wonder how many times this type of censorship has succeeded?

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