The other day a friend sent me a link to a series of satellite images of the Mt. St. Helens areas. The images – from between 1979 and 2011 – were part of the Landsat satellite program operated by NASA and the USGS. The time-lapse video shows the May 18, 1980 explosion and subsequent recovery of life on the volcano. However, the time-lapse video also shows something else: The steady progression of clearcuts in the forested landscape around Mt. St. Helens.
These time-lapse images of the clearcuts surrounding Mt. St. Helens reminded me of this passage from William Dietrich’s book, The Final Forest: Big Trees, Forks, and the Pacific Northwest:
There’s a story, possibly apocryphal, about President Jimmy Carter’s flight across the foothills of southwest Washington to view the devastation caused by the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Peering down at the shaven hills, the president expressed horror at the destruction below him. The state officials who were his guides had to gently explain that the helicopter had not reached the volcano blast area yet, that was Carter was seeing was clearcut logging.