Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Other Owls, Number One

Today I want to tip my little Robin Hood hat to a great owl, an owl that taught us all to care for our planet. I speak of course of Woodsy Owl.Woodsy holds the distinction of being an official icon of the United States Forest Service. Born in 1970, he has always been a champion of the environment. His motto, “Give a hoot, don't pollute,” echoed through the land and raised a generations of green-minded people. I think a case can be made that if not for Woodsy we would not be where we are now, but instead be wallowing in a pit of industrial filth that we used to call America. Woodsy Owl saved your country and your world.

He did it through tireless and selfless work, making thousands of personal appearances to spread the word. He, of course, became a big TV star:
He even got his own comic book. Woodsy was flying high. Then everything changed.

In the 1990s the Northern Spotted Owl was put on the endangered species list. Lots of folks in the Pacific northwest who relied on the logging industry for their jobs were pretty angry. The image of an owl was suddenly controversial. The Forest Service put Woodsy under wraps, placing him in the mascot version of the witness protection program.

Three years ago it was announced that Woodsy was back. He would be re-introduced to the public at a big ceremony. Al Gore was there to acknowledge this pioneer in the green movement. A hushed crowd waited, the curtain parted . . . and out came this guy.I don't know who this guy is, but he's not Woodsy. Woodsy is an owl, hence the name, Woodsy Owl. This is a guy in a costume. Not even a very good costume. And worse, he doesn't even say “Give a hoot, don't pollute.” His new motto is “Lend a hand – care for the land,” which, frankly, sucks. First of all, it doesn't scan. Second, owls don't have hands. Third, it is a violation of federal law. Really. The law states that Woodsy Owl must “further the slogan 'Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute.'” Since this new character has a new motto, it follows that he is not, in fact, the real Woodsy Owl. Q.E.D.

Where then is Woodsy? That he is being held against his will is obvious. Such a dedicated campaigner for ecology would never just fly the coop. Now, when environmental issues are at the forefront of political debate, when the stakes are the highest they've ever been, is just when someone like Woodsy would step up, rally the forces of goodness and cleanness, and save this planet. I know it, you know it, and so do those who would silence this great bird. Ask the Forest Service. Ask the press. Ask the oil companies, the miners, the loggers, and the biotech industry. Where is Woodsy?

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