America's own rainforest tragedy

Opening up Alaska's temperate rainforests to logging would be unforgivable

A chainsaw.
(Image credit: Illustrated | zlikovec/iStock, deniskolt/iStock, EvgVect/iStock)

You will hear the rain before you feel it. It is a soft, whispery sound, one that could almost be mistaken for wind if not for the occasional percussive plinks that give it away. By the end of the year, the precipitation will total 14 feet, but visiting the forest's understory, you wouldn't know it; the thick Douglas fir canopy shields the ground from most of the downpour. If you closed your eyes, you'd have the distinct sensation of being inside a cloud, except you don't: everything is so vividly green and so wildly alive that just looking at it can break your heart.

Having grown up only a four-hour drive from the Hoh Rainforest on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, I never took such experiences for granted. There is undeniably something powerful and ancient and, yes, even magical about walking beneath trees 500 years older than Christopher Columbus' claim on finding America. But more than even that, I know how quickly an old growth landscape can be taken away: The drive to Olympic National Park requires first passing through tracts of forest that aren't protected. The open wounds of clear cuts scar the hills around the rainforest a muddy-brown. Bare-limbed snags, left behind by the loggers, jut out of the cuts at random angles and intervals, like shards of mangled bone.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.