Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, October 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 31° Clear
News >  Spokane

Former Forest Service Whistleblower To Speak Jeff Debonis Heads Group Monitoring Forest Issues

Jeff DeBonis’ job was to plan federal timber sales. But in 1990, he became a U.S. Forest Service whistleblower trying to protect Oregon’s forests from overcutting.

DeBonis formed the Association of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics to push reforms from within.

“It was the first employee dissident group to challenge the environmental ethics of the agency,” DeBonis said.

In 1993, he founded Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national network that’s become a force in recent political battles over federal and state environmental laws.

PEER has fought U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to log scrub forests in the Northwest and efforts by Western Republicans to bar the Forest Service from enforcing violations of livestock grazing permits.

This Thursday, DeBonis will speak in Spokane about his experiences - and about a trend that worries him.

“The anti-environmental backlash is strong and growing, especially at the state level,” DeBonis said.

A recent PEER study shows a nationwide pattern where corporations and their political allies are trying to defang environmental agencies, DeBonis said.

“They are trying to break up (agency) enforcement units and force out more experienced people,” he said.

DeBonis left the Forest Service to serve as PEER’s executive director. The group has eight employees in Washington, D.C., and two in Hood River, Ore., where DeBonis lives.

Foundations provide 80 percent of PEER’s budget, and individual memberships make up the rest.

DeBonis is speaking Thursday at a meeting of the Society of Inland Northwest Environmental Scientists. His 7:30 p.m. speech is open to the public and preceded by a 6:30 p.m. social hour at Cavanaugh’s Fourth Avenue, 110 E. Fourth.

, DataTimes

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.


New health insurance plans available Nov. 1 through Washington Healthplanfinder

 (Photo courtesy WAHBE)
Sponsored

Fall means the onset of the cold and flu season.