This Week Then: Giving a Hoot About Northern Spotted Owls

Plus: Honoring Washington state residents who lost their lives in combat
| Updated: May 23, 2019

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Giving a Hoot

On May 23, 1991, U.S. District Court Judge William Dwyer blocked timber sales in national forests to protect the northern spotted owl, after the National Audubon Society and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund challenged the U.S. Forest Service's 1986 Forest Management Plan as inadequate to protect the bird. The plan also displeased loggers, whose jobs were being threatened.

On the day of Dwyer's ruling, the town of Forks -- which was heavily reliant on the timber industry -- shut down so its citizens could travel en masse to Olympia to protest the ruling. Dwyer had rejected claims about the negative economic consequences of stopping timber sales, finding that the timber industry no longer drove the Pacific Northwest's economy.

Three years later, Dwyer upheld a new federal spotted owl management plan in a key National Environmental Policy Act decision. In 1992 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reduced the owls' critical habitat from a proposed 11.6 million acres to 6.9 million, and it has since sought to reduce it even further. Meanwhile, logging towns like Forks have become tourist destinations, while cities like Raymond have transitioned to newer industries, such as marijuana cultivation. Public Port districts that were once lumber-dependent, such as those in Grays Harbor, Willapa Harbor, and Skamania County, have also successfully diversified.

Those We Salute

The Grand Army of the Republic first observed "Decoration Day" on May 30, 1868, to honor those who fell on the Union side during the Civil War. The GAR chose late spring so that flowers in bloom could decorate the graves of the heroes. During World War I, the holiday evolved into a day to commemorate American military members who died in all wars, including those who fought for the South in the Civil War. In 1971 Congress set the last Monday in May as Memorial Day to ensure a three-day weekend for workers. is proud to host the complete online honor rolls of citizens of our state who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Philippine Insurrection, World War I, World War II (including merchant mariners), Korea, Vietnam, Granada, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. We also maintain online honor rolls of University of Washington students, faculty, and staff killed in World War II and public-safety officers statewide who died in the line of duty. We want to thank Garden of Remembrance co-organizer Dave Barber for helping us to maintain this tribute, and let us not forget the memorial's founding spirit and primary sponsor, the late Patsy Bullitt Collins, who suffered her own loss during World War II.


Gather and Meet

In an effort to peacefully dispossess Eastern Washington tribes of their land, Washington Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens convened the First Walla Walla Council on May 29, 1855. It didn't work out quite as planned. Stevens's earlier Point Elliott Treaty with Puget Sound tribes proved equally messy, although this did not prevent a re-enactment of its signing, held at Juanita Beach on May 27, 1933.

Welcome and Greet

On May 23, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed in as the inaugural guest at Seattle's Washington Hotel atop Denny Hill, followed by a visit to Fort Lawton. Two days later he briefly visited North Yakima before heading off to Walla Walla, where he spoke at Whitman College.

Watching the Fleet

In 1908 Teddy Roosevelt dispatched the U.S. Navy's Great White Fleet from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, including a tour of Puget Sound. When the ships arrived in Elliott Bay on May 23, 1908, Seattleites beamed with pride upon seeing the USS Nebraska, which had been launched from the Moran Brothers shipyard four years earlier. The Nebraska was the only battleship ever built in Washington state, and its construction was buoyed by $100,000 in community aid.

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