By Alex Biddle
Hiking in the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest

About forty miles east of Eugene in the foothills of the Cascades lies a tract of forest that has been unhampered by humans for over 600 years. Trees up to almost 300 feet tall sky rocket in every direction you look. This weekend, Land Air Water members participated in the group’s first tree climb with the help of our friends at the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute. A team of expert tree climbers set up our ropes and harnesses so we could ascend and descend 100 feet of an ancient broken top snag of a Douglas Fir.

Alex Biddle, Mallory Woodman, and Meg Townsend embracing an old-growth tree

I have been an avid lifelong tree climber, but my prior experiences pale in comparison to the majesty of being among the canopy of an old growth forest. Being at the top of the giant Fir, provided one of the deepest connections I have ever experienced in nature. It also provided a great opportunity to meet other law students in LAW and make deeper connections with the ones I already know. Together, we ascended high into the forest canopy and appreciated a glimpse of an area of habitat most people never get to see. It truly conveyed a sense of how important standing trees are for the amount of habitat they provide for birds and other forest critters. I was struck by what the loss of forests really means. When we cut trees we lose more than a pretty picture or a nice view from the forest floor. We literally destroy more living space than we can ever see from our land based perspective.

Every time I go on a trip with LAW I return with a renewed sense of why I came to law school to protect the environment and am reminded how great the people are that join in this struggle with me. Climbing high into an old growth forest brought home not just how much we lose when we destroy a forest, but how much the forest means to life and the integrity of our environment.