Marching in Francis’ Army

by Josh Laughlin, Executive Director
 
I remember first meeting Francis Eatherington the day she rolled into an Earth First! road blockade high up on the Umpqua National Forest on her motorcycle. She was wearing a leather biking jacket, had a stack of timber sale maps under her arm, a compass dangling from her neck and a ruffled brow, shaking her finger in the air, furious that the Forest Service was intent on punching roads and logging units into the adjacent Mt. Bailey roadless area.
 
“I want to be in her army,” I thought.
          
FrancisBy my count, I’ve been in Francis’ army for 17 years, working side-by-side to defend the ecological integrity of the renowned Umpqua basin. From its headwaters near Crater Lake, through the storied old-growth forests of the Cascades and Coast Range all the way down to the Oregon Dunes, the Umpqua is a world-class landscape and has never had a better advocate.
          
A perpetual thorn in the industry’s and agency’s side, Francis has never been afraid to speak her conscience, calling out BS when a timber sale was masquerading as restoration or would have compromised the wild nature of this region. She knows as well as anyone how to build a legal record based on thorough field checking and document review and comment, and our environmental attorneys like that about her.
          
Francis has spent the past six months mentoring Robin Meacher, Cascadia Wildlands’ Umpqua Regional Director, sharing the tools and institutional knowledge that has made her such an effective advocate for the region. This summer, Francis transitioned off the staff of Cascadia Wildlands to become our Umpqua Regional Advisor.
          
She hasn’t skipped a beat in her new capacity, and it’s become clear you can’t take the Francis out of Francis. Today, she is sitting on the steps of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission headquarters in Washington, DC fasting as part of a mass protest against any further federal permitting of fossil fuel development in the US, including the 230-mile Pacific Connector Pipeline and associated Jordan Cove liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal proposed for southwest Oregon. She will soon return home to the heart of the Umpqua and will undoubtedly continue fighting for the species, wildlands and waters that make her watershed so special.
          
Cascadia Wildlands is forever grateful for Francis’ passion, commitment and friendship, and continues to march in her army.
          
Thank you for believing in us and supporting the tireless work of Francis over the years.
 
 
Above photo: Francis Eatherington in her native habitat
 
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