We are deeply saddened and shocked at the death
of Tim McKay. His tireless efforts and determination made a difference
in improving the quality of all of our lives. Always steadfast
of purpose, Tim became an icon of an environmental movement that
will never give up the fight for a better future.
Tim carried a heavy load of responsibility. He
would not have it any other way. In a world where environmental
losses are encountered more often than gains, Tim's sheer force
of will and power of presence kept the light burning. Yet, despite
Tim's power, there was a deep gentleness of spirit, as evidenced
by his love of birds, flowers and children.
Without Tim, those of us who share his passion
are going to have to work a little harder to carry on. But we
will do this gladly, because every time we see a clean beach,
a wild healthy river, clean air over our precious wild places,
or the joy of a child learning the names of wildflowers, we can
say "Thank you, Tim."
— Dwain Goforth and Suzy Rudofker
Tim McKay was one of the modern pioneers of protecting
our precious redwood forests and our overall northcoast environment.
He was unafraid to hang out with Earth First!ers or members of
the timber industry and opened his doors to all at the Northcoast
Environmental Center. My only regret is that I did not take him
up on his invitation to speak on our victorious civil rights
lawsuit against the FBI on his radio show on KHSU, which normally
doesn't have Earth First!ers on the air. He was not afraid to
buck the status quo of the environmental movement, the public
airwaves or the larger body politic. He is a hero.
Tim was a rock, an institution, a reminder to us
that we be unafraid to be who we are in tackling controversial
issues and that we keep our hearts open to those who are different
from us. He spoke at the first Earth First! rally I ever organized
in Humboldt County and remained a friend to our cause to the
end. He was a big man, but mostly in heart and mind. Humboldt
without Tim will feel emptier, but it is a fuller place because
he graced us with his presence. Let's replace the statue of McKinley
with that of Tim McKay and rename the whole thing: McKay Plaza.
It's got a ring to it and we can even keep the first three letters!
Bless you Tim on your journey.
— Darryl Cherney
If it wasn't for Tim and Lucille Vinyard I would
not be doing the work I am today.
Tim was one of the people I most looked up to when
I got started in this work as a volunteer for Redwood Alliance,
the NEC and the Sierra Club in 1979. His intelligence and effectiveness
was only matched by his openness and welcoming encouragement
to new activists. I valued his friendship tremendously. This
is an enormous loss for the Northcoast, California and the country.
He was absolutely ferocious when it came to the Northcoast.
On lease sale 53 he all let it all hang out. A
friend who was working as a maid in a Eureka hotel cleaned a
room Doug Bosco had stayed in and found a copy of Econews with
an article Tim had written underlined and annotated all over
the place by a clearly angry Congressman. On California Wilderness
protection he was wonderful at creating an identity for places
few had ever heard about. The Siskiyou Mountain Resources Council,
which he helped start, created a constituency for the Siskiyou
that led to thousands of acres of amazing wilderness getting
protected that may never have made it to the legislative finish
line. Tim introduced me to another activist named Sam Camp who
wanted to lead an urgent campaign to protect the King Range as
wilderness. That was sometime around 1983. The group Tim brought
together helped turn out hundreds of people for wilderness hearings
before the BLM in Eureka and even Honeydew. It is a testament
to Tim's tenacity and encouragement that the King Range wilderness
was part of the northern California bill that passed the House
a week or so ago, and which with any luck at all will land on
the President's desk before long (It passed the Senate earlier
this year.) For my money they can name it after Tim McKay and
it wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit.
Tim helped organize a demonstration near the G-O
road right before the court decision was rendered that stopped
the project. We had around 100 or more people camped out there
expecting the worst because the judge had called Native American
religious leaders "witch doctors" after the government
argued their case. We planned to block the bulldozers we expected
would immediately begin punching the road through to completion.
We left after a week because it was clear that the court's decision
would be delayed. After our coalition of Native Americans and
environmentalists had a chance to testify, the Judge (The Honorable
Stanley Weigel) ruled with us on virtually every point, including
Native American religious freedom. Eventually the Supreme Court
overruled the religions freedom issues. The fight Tim led on
this was ferocious, intelligent (covering a range of water, public
lands and religious speech issues) intense (Tim and others prodded
our lawyers to court instead of settling the case) involved sophisticated
coalition building (fishermen, tribes, etc.), and integrated
nationwide media work (National Book Award winner Peter Matthiessen
contributed an essay: "Stop the G-O Road" from Audubon,
January 1979). Tim did not do this alone - that was not his style
- but this fight exemplified his leadership characteristics and
No one loved the Northcoast more or fought for
it harder. God, I will miss him!
— Carl Zichella
Regional Staff Director, Sierra Club, California
Nevada Hawaii Regional Office, Sacramento
What struck me as much as anything about Tim was
his passion for history-what happened that got us to where we
are. He had this wonderful overview that wastinged with melancholy,
sometimes with humour, and sometimes with indignation. He was
so deeply interested in the paths of people and the paths of
nature and where they connected. His own vision and strength,
in turn, became a nexus, where so many of us connected with each
other and more importantly, with world around us. Thank you,
— Fred and Joyce Neighbor
McKay was a big man with boundless energy who had
a huge impact on the North Coast and even the world. Working
in his giant shadow for more than 30 years at what was essentially
the Tim McKay Environmental Center, I drew inspirationas did
almost everyone he touchedfrom his diligence, patience, energy
and deep concern for the natural world.
Unlike me, he also showed great tolerance for the
foibles of the human speciesand even for his many detractors,
who viewed him as the personification of their resentments. He
had a broad back for a reason.
Others will comment on the considerable breadth
of his knowledge, his tireless energy, his endless compiling
of data (from his rain gauge to his bird list), his vast network
of contacts, his ability to galvanize public opinion, and his
everlasting passion for the cause. "Persistence is victory,"
he would say, citing the need for "endless pressure endlessly
applied." And he proved it, always showing up at meeting
after meeting and hearing after hearing, however remote, as well
as in his countless articles and radio programs.
But what I marveled at the most was how, in the
midst of his mad and constant multi-tasking, he could always
take the time to spend a half-hour with someone who just wandered
into the center in quest of some answers or referrals. He was
a wonderful teacher, full of information that would enliven a
subject and stimulate action.
Personally, what I will remember, too, is our enduring
friendship, forged not only in our common cause but in such activities
as our regular Wednesday night poker game, the Snail Darters
softball team and the joy we had in each other's children. I
am happy to have known such a powerful person who proved, for
decades, that one person can indeed make a difference.
editor of the ECONEWS for 30 years, until a few months ago.
Tim McKay was an extremely nice person and an inspiration
to budding activists. When I joined Western Ancient Forest Campaign
in 1992, Tim was a founding board member. He made a newcomer
like me feel very welcome with his kind words, positive outlook
and patience with dumb questions. The Northcoast is a better
place thanks to the efforts of idealists like Tim.
DC-based forest activist who worked with Tim since 1992.
It is with great sadness that the Seventh Generation
Fund responds to the information received this morning, that
our very beloved friend, longtime ally for environmental justice,
and trusted colleague, Tim McKay, has suddenly passed away.
Men such as Tim are few and far in between. His
presence of mind and spirit was a consistent and powerful force
for environmental and social justice in Humboldt County, and
the ripples of his impressive effect in those arenas were felt
well beyond our redwood coast. Rarely does a movement have such
a consistently strong and dedicated person, who is also such
a kind and gentle spirit we were truly blessed and honored to
know him, to work with him, to stand with him many times.
Tim was more than a friend to our organization,
he was a trusted and longtime companion. We knew Tim and we knew
he would make sure that the concerns of Native peoples would
not be disenfranchised or marginalized. Tim would call us and
he would consult with us. He heard us when no one else would
care to. Tim would include Native voices at all levels of the
dialogue. We laughed with him, we sat in meetings with him, we
emailed back and forth and we spoke on the phone. We often tuned
into his radio program on KHSU and will forever associate the
line from the opening music for the show, "They paved paradise
to put in a parking lot...," with Tim and his work for the
Upon sight, even across a crowded room, we knew
we were not alone in our struggles if Tim was there too. He was
a big mountain of a man with a gentleness that was also strong
and patient. Tim stood with Native peoples for the salmon and
the health of Native cultures and rivers. We trusted and appreciated
him. We know in our work that we are now much poorer for having
lost him, not only for the work we are still engaged in for the
environmental health and justice of our region and Native communities,
but for the void we will not be able to fill, that only Tim fills
in our memories.
Our sincerest condolences go out to Tim's children,
his partner Michelle, the NEC an organization he led so well
and to the many communities of peoples and places that he touched
with his vision and work. May we all find peace in this sudden
and tragic change in our lives and know that solace is found
because his work and life positively impacted thousands of lives:
forests, rivers, fish, birds, peoples, cultures.
I can imagine Tim at Stone Lagoon, birding and
enjoying the North Coast he worked so hard to protect. I imagine
his spirit on the wings of the birds he loved, gracing the wind,
and reminding us all that whenever the wind touches our faces
that Tim remains with us, and that his impact on our lives and
the ecosystem to which he committed himself so completely will
On behalf of the Seventh Generation Fund board
and staff, and our family of Indigenous grassroots projects throughout
the Americas, I extend our hand of friendship and support to
the NEC as it moves through this time of mourning and adjustment.
Our thoughts are with you all, and our hearts share your sorrow.
As we face a future without Tim's physical presence amongst us,
we know he is with us in spirit and we will remember to hold
the gifts he gave us over these many years. We are richer for
having known Tim and we wish him peace as he travels on to the
spirit world, where I am certain he will be embraced by the ancestors
and enjoy foreverlasting life.
— Tia Oros Peters
Executive Director, Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development,
Yesterday while returning home from a camping trip
on the Klamath River,, I thought of how Tim McKay must have felt
when they put up the Siskiyou Wilderness boundary sign.He more
than anyone was responsible for the establishment of theSiskiyou
wilderness. Sunday night I learned of his passing.
I was there with Tim and 300 others when we thought
we had to blockade the (Gasquest Orleans (GO) road in 1981. The
Supreme Court stopped the GO road and the Siskiyou Wilderness
became law.I spent a lot of hours in from the the Coop and at
the County fairs on letter writing campagains for the Siskiyou
wilderness.pushed for the Siskiyous relentlessly and we logged
some DC trips in the process.
Of source there was the Redwood National Park expansion,
wild and scenic rivers, USFS Northwest Forest Plan. ...
He was a friend, mentor and tireless advocate of
nature and I will miss him
— Mark Andre
Director Environmental Services; past NEC President
City of Arcata
I used to look at birds and think of dinosaurs,
the current thinking that the former evolved from the latter.
Hearing about the passing of my friend Tim McKay,
a regular poker player and an avid birder, I will never look
at birds the same again. Whenever I see a pileated woodpecker
perched in the oak outside my house or spot the bright orange
western tanager in the persimmon in my front yard or see a Cooper's
hawk the last bird Tim saw in this world floating overhead, I'll
think of him. He's soaring with the hawks now.
— Mark Dondero, Orleans, CA
Tim was my counter consience during my career with
the Forest Service. I could always count on getting the real
picture from Tim when I couldn't get it from the Forest Service.
It's really too bad the bureaucrats didn't listen closer we would
be better off and they wouldn't be justtheir shadows.
— Jill Dondero,
Tim was indeed a caring individual. He was a force
in trying to protect Humboldt Bay. He participated in the design
of studies to better understand the natural resources of the
bay. He sometimes took a hard line in discussions about mariculture,
industry and activities that he thought might have impacts on
the bay's resources. However, he kept and open mind and would
give his casual shoulder shrug and a smile if someone had a reasonable
argument. He was always polite and a gentleman in our discussions.
He was a great believer in the decommissioning of dams. Although
he has been a force for the removal of the Klamath Dams and protecting
the integrity of the river, he was also a strong ally for fish
in the Eel River's Potter Valley diversion discussions.
There was never a free pass for an agency, bureaucrat
or elected official if they failed to protect forests, oceans
or rivers. He will be missed.
— Jimmy Smith,
Humboldt County Supervisor
I met Tim while serving on the Arcata City Council.
When he needed me to lobby on environmental issues, I did.
— Alex Stillman
Tim was very influential in getting me involved
in environmental work, and gave me great advice on how to be
Like so many people, I had a strong appreciation
for wilderness and the natural world, but I had never become
involved or taken an active role in any environmental issues.
That changed when my wife and I received a letter in the mail
one day, notifying us that a timber harvest plan was being prepared
on the steep hillside immediately behind our house in Sunny Brae.
We were not simply opposed to logging, but we did have some real
concerns about how this logging plan could affect our lives,
our house, and our neighborhood.
One of the first things I did was to take this
letter down to the Northcoast Environmental Center. I figured
that I would walk in and show them the letter, and that they
would jump into action and say "What? A timber harvest plan?
Here in Arcata? Don't worry, you just go on home and we'll take
care of everything."
Of course, that is not what happened. Instead,
Tim McKay sat me down and said "Here's what you need to
do." From that very first sentence he made it clear that
dealing with this issue, as with so many others, would depend
upon people like me getting active and getting involved in the
process. Tim told me to figure out what my concerns really were,
and what I really wanted to accomplish. I shouldn't just try
to stop the logging outright if the cutting of trees was not
the real issue. If my concern was landsliding and erosion, then
I should deal with that. If my concern was noise, nuisance, or
logging trucks, then I should deal with those things. Be honest
about your goals, and pursue them truthfully.
Tim explained how the timber harvest plan review
process works and who the players are. He told me to "engage
the process," and work with the agencies and the timber
company. Being effective depends upon having good information,
and other people will always be your best source. Tim helped
me recognize that all of the people on the different sides of
an issue are, first and foremost, people, and should be treated
with common courtesy and respect. Besides, you limit your own
effectiveness if nobody will take your calls.
Tim also cautioned me not to expect easy, overnight
solutions, but to be persistent. As the Sunny Brae THP heated
up, my wife asked me at one point how much time this whole effort
would take. Looking at the Forest Practice Rules, I answered
"It looks like the whole THP review process should take
about 4 weeks." Instead, it took 2 long years. Tim's advice
stuck with me through that whole time, and stays with me today:
Get involved and understand the process. Identify your concerns,
be honest about your goals, and work towards solutions. Do your
research. Deal with people as people. And mostly, be persistent!
I believe that Tim's advice was part of the reason that the Sunnybrae/Arcata
Neighborhood Alliance was able to be so effective, and to achieve
a goal even greater than what we set out to do.
Later, as I began to work alongside Tim through
the Healthy Humboldt Coalition, I came to really appreciate his
wisdom and the perspective he brought to bear from 30 years of
I also came to enjoy his sense of humor. When I
would see him at the NEC, I would sometimes joke "Haven't
you finished saving the environment yet?" "Almost."
He'd reply. "I might have to work a little late today."
— Mark Lovelace,
President of the Humboldt Watershed Council and
Director of the Sunnybrae/Arcata Neighborhood Alliance
I can't even remember where or when in the early
1970's I first met Tim McKay. It hardly mattersit seems I've
known him all my life.
And over the years Tim has roped me into every
conceivable environmentalist activity, from the pure pleasures
of birding and native plant gardening to the grueling political
stuff of letters, meetings, booth-sitting and signature collecting.
Not to mention ECONEWS.
So many things have changed as a result of the
efforts of the Northcoast Environmental Center over the yearsboth
through Tim's direct and indirect influence. But two endeavors
stand out for me. The first is the big September beach cleanup
(which has been adopted worldwide) that we will again do next
month. And the other is the enormously emotional GO Road battle.
In dramatically different ways these events have opened people's
eyes to the fragility of our local ecosystems. But in very similar
ways they have united diverse groups for the common goal of protecting
what belongs to all of us.
But it never has been_one_thing_for Tim. He was
always voraciously seeking out information to squirrel away for
the next battle. (Another activist believes that Tim should be
cremated with his files because it will take an army to sort
them out.) It was the continuous nature of the work, never self-satisfied
with "winning" and never discouraged by "losing",
but having the willingness to go on and on and on, out of pure
love that made Tim great. It was not one specific environmental
battle or even the outcome of that one battle that mattered.
What mattered was that when everything burned to the ground he
didn't miss a beat. Tim and the others just re-created what had
been destroyed and planned for even more.
I can only think of that Bertold Brecht quoteand
I'm sure I will not be the only one who will think of it with
regard to Tim:
There are men who struggle for a day, and they
thre are others who struggle for a year, and they are better.
There are some who struggle for many years, and they are much
But there are those who struggle all their livesand these are
the indispensible ones.
— Carol Moné Pressnall
Tim McKay brought his intense focus almost all
his energy for the past 35 years to elevating the importance
we as a society place on wilderness, on public lands as habitat,
on the value our rivers and streams and oceans and the life they
sustain, on how we live our lives in this place, this small part
of the planet he referred to as the Klamath-Siskiyou. I feel
incredibly fortunate to have known him as my co-worker and friend
for nearly three decades.
He connected people, across all our social divides,
to have a continuous dialog in our region about environment.
Tim talked with everybody, from our elected officials to folks
who wandered in off the street, and heard what they had to say.
Under his leadership and persistent guidance, we've seen environment
go from a marginalized issue far from the public agenda, to a
central theme in our public discourse. It's a testament to his
success that the North Coast has provided leadership to the state,
the nation and the world, and those leaders carry a message that
was very close to Tim's heart: this planet is our home, and we
must treat it with respect.
He often summarized his political philosophy with
the simple phrase, "endless pressure, endlessly applied."
He moved issues that were mountains, slowly but surely. I hope
we can maintain his persistence, so that we may live to see a
free-flowing Klamath, free of dams that have brought the salmon
in that huge river system close to extinction, so that we may
find our way to a sustainable future, and so that we may expose
and tumble the tyrants in our midst. These things Tim would have
Citizenship, participation in the process, and
faith in democratic institutions were core to Tim's philosophy.
He was there, as a engaged participant in an incredible array
of community activities, political campaigns, get-out-the-vote
drives, lobbying efforts to change our laws, as well as lawsuits
to enforce laws and block the forces of greed from their unfettered
exploitation of natural systems for short-term economic gain.
Tim's passing is a tremendous loss, since he was
a connector: he had a vast, encylopedic knowledge of conservation
and politics and people that he carried with him, and he shared
it generously. He always thought of himself as a historian, and
continuously collected bits of information that all fit the big
picture, the ecology of everything and everyone connected to
and dependent upon everything and everyone else. When fire consumed
the Northcoast Environmental Center in 2001, it took the news
clippings and books Tim had collected over more than 20 years.
He immediately started back in to salvaging what he could, and
rebuilding the collection with new material.
He was a loving parent, a gentle teacher, a good
friend. He was the kind of guy who would leave plenty of apples
on the old tree for the birds. He affected my life profoundly,
by setting an example of how one person's commitment and persistence
really can make a difference in the world. He showed that through
collective action we can work wonders, and keep hope alive for
a world where all our children and their children for generations
to come — may live in harmony with each other and with the thin
biosphere that supports life in all its diversity.
— Andy Alm
As I recall, I first laid eyes on Tim McKay in
the offices occupied by the student government at Humboldt State
College sometime during the 1967-68 academic term. He didn't
look all that much different from a lot of the male students
in the resources programs then bearded, wearing "field clothes"
most of the time although he was a pretty large person even then.
What was different about Tim was that he straightaway said that
the most important issue for him in student affairs, as in life,
was the environment. At the time my own coalescing environmental
values were not sharply focused, and the clarity of Tim's expression
of personal values has turned out, in hindsight, to have been
a significant factor in crystallizing my value system around
Aldo Leopold's "land ethic."
The NEC came into being after I left Humboldt County
for grad school in 1970. I know that from the outset the NEC
focused on federal lands, particularly the four National Forests
(NF) in northwestern California, and on the agencies that manage
them, particularly the USDA Forest Service. This focus was already
well developed when I returned to Humboldt County at the end
of the 70s. In the early 1980s the NEC's, and Tim's, focus on
federal lands led to our mutual involvement in the "spotted
owl wars" that eventually led to the Northwest Forest Plan.
There was a relatively small group of northern
California conservationists working actively on federal land
issues at the time, including Susie Van Kirk of the Sierra Club,
Felice Pace of the Marble Mountains Audubon Society, forester
Greg Blomstrom, and a bare handful of others (at the time I was
the Conservation Chair of the Redwood Region Audubon Society).
The NEC was the focal center of our involvement, and Tim was
the central focus at the NEC.
In the middle 1980s only three National Forests
in the country lacked Land Management Plans, and all three were
in northwestern California. When Six Rivers NF resumed its planning
process in the middle 80s, the NEC convened a group of interested
people to develop a "conservationist" plan alternative.
By this time the impacts of federal and management on "old-growth"
forests, and on a few wildlife species that were understood scientifically
to be associated with conditions that occur in these largely
unlogged forestlands, had already become a significant conservation
and environmental concern. In addition there were growing indications
that a regional or landscape-scale focus was necessary for a
variety of ecosystem elements.
The NEC's draft "Green Forest Plan" was
submitted to Six Rivers NF in early 1987. It addressed old-growth
related wildlife species, regional ecological processes and habitat
distributions, biological diversity, fisheries habitat concerns
related to declining catches in the region, and several other
concerns that were also beginning to show up in parts of Oregon
and Washington that shared similar forest ecosystems. This approach
was also somewhat new for the NEC, but thereafter an "ecosystem
management" focus was common in what we were all doing on
federal land issues.
On opportunity to regionalize this approach presented
itself in the summer of 1987 when a fire broke out in the Happy
Camp Ranger District of Klamath NF. The fire burned for many
weeks, ultimately growing to more than 250,000 acres. Of course,
the Klamath NF wanted to start the "salvage" as soon
as the ground cooled, and looked for ways to streamline that
process, such as cutting corners on required National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. To a person we all thought that this
was illegal, but we couldn't find a large environmental organization
to carry the suit for us. So, with the assistance of Dave Krueger,
a federally admitted lawyer who had never filed a NEPA case,
the NEC sued the Forest Service.
The King Fire lawsuit was a significant event for
the Klamath bioregion, for the Forest Service, and for all of
us who were involved (particularly for Tim, Susie, Dave, Greg,
geologist Jude Wait, and me). We spent a lot of time initially
looking at burned areas (see accompanying photo), and we learned
a lot about fire behavior and fire ecology. We didn't always
agree, internally, about what we should ask the Forest Service
to do, but we universally agreed that the maintenance of ecosystem
processes had to be the primary goal of the Service's land management.
So we talked, we read, and we learned.
The Forest Service soon realized that the NEC would
win the suit, and agreed to our settlement terms. These included
many months of discussions and study sessions with Forest Service
technical staff in Happy Camp or Yreka (and a long weekend "retreat"
in Medford with several prominent conservation scientists) involving
the NEC team, as well as a number of wildlife and conservation-oriented
scientists from the Forest Service and from several universities.
Ultimately these discussions were instrumental in changing the
Klamath NF's overall land management approach, and the Klamath
NF Land Management Plan adopted in 1995 included landscape-based
conservation biology as a core element.
In the early 1990s the Forest Service crafted and
adopted the Northwest Forest Plan to protect old-growth forest
ecosystem elements in a regional context. When the Six Rivers
NF Land Management Plan was finally adopted in 1995, it was compatible
with the Northwest Forest Plan. Some elements of it bore (to
my mind) a striking resemblance to parts of the "Green Forest
Plan" proposed by the NEC nearly a decade earlier. Yes,
Tim McKay was one of the public members of the team who met with
the Six Rivers planners to craft the Plan.
Chad Roberts, a consulting conservation ecologist
in Davis, the conservation chair of the Yolo Audubon Society,
and a former conservation chair of the Redwood Region Audubon
Society for more than a decade (mid-1980s to the mid-1990s).
Today, as I took my morning walk on Trinidad Beach
and collected litter, my practice took on new meaning. I know
that Tim left a deep impression on us as individuals and our
region. His impact is immeasurable, but has surely changed our
daily habits for now and in the future. We can keep him alive
in our hearts by our action to enhance our environment.
— Julie Fulkerson,
Tim MacKay was a big, beautiful bear of a man.
He was as comfortable in the natural world as he was in the world
of politics. If ever there was a man at home in his own skin
it was Tim.
Walked into the NEC for the first time some 33
years ago and felt immediately assured and supported by Timmy
urge to do something for the environment. Over the years,kindled
and supported that urge in countless others, both young and old.
Timus in so many valiant efforts. He never seemed
discouraged by the forces against us. He knew when to find common
ground and when to just keep fighting. There is a huge hole in
the world where he was.
only hope that his spirit stays with the NEC and
helps to guide it through the hard times and the good times ahead.
The thing I always liked about Tim was that he
epitomized the spontaneous and often ragtag early days of the
environmental movement on the north coast.
Idealism was not just a word then, it was our way
of life, and for Tim, I don't think that this belief system ever
I think we mostly thought we were going to change
the world a lot faster than has turned out to be the case, and
a certain amount of blind faith in constructive social change
arose from that shared personal hope and optimism.
Nothing could stop the wisdom of the planet from
manifesting itself in the form of a positive political outcome
when enough local folks were willing to fight to save a place.
The odds were good that it would ultimately be
saved, no matter how large or how powerful the adversary. If
not saved every time, then more times than not.
Back when half the oil companies on earth, former
Interior Secretaries James Watt and Donald Hodel, and even, for
a time, our former First Congressional District congressman thought
it would be a good idea to drill offshore from, say, Trinidad
Bay, Tim was always out there in his leadership role willing
to work day and night to turn out the troops for a giant public
hearing to stop the rigs.
There are a lot of miles of the Lost Coast that
were not "lost" and are still unsullied, a lot of big
trees still standing, and a lot of places that today remain intact
because of victories directly attributable to Tim's efforts.
In recent years, I remember talking to Tim on my
cell phone from somewhere down along the Avenue of the Giants,
the morning after the Northcoast Environmental Center burned
He was, naturally, still quite shocked to lose
the place, but he clearly knew it was not about the buiding,
and he was amazingly optimistic and already evolving a plan to
After talking to him on the phone, I sent a check
as soon as I got home.
I sit here today in Washington, DC, watching the
modern-day vandals and Visigoths now in charge of the US Congress
trying their hardest to dismantle our quarter-century of protection
from the oil companies along the northern California coast, and
I think that the best tribute to Tim's memory is obviously to
redouble our commitment to protecting the places, critters, and
people he worked so hard to protect.
We all, I have come to think, need to spend more
time enjoying that which we have worked to preserve.
I remember reading once about an ancient Tibetan
religion that said that your last thought at the moment of passing
was how you would spend eternity.
Since none of us can ever know the time of our
passing, such a philosophy has always seemed pretty smart to
It was very sad to wake up this morning to the
word about Tim, but amidst the sorrow, I was glad inside to hear
that he was birding.
— Richard Charter
July 31, 2006
For me, Tim was at first a lucky break in the weather
of my post-college career, though in the end, he was much more.
Whereas most newspaper employers discounted me
as too inexperienced to know anything about anything, and in
my heart I worried that they might be right, Tim hired me to
run the ECONEWS at the green age of 22, fresh from journalism
school. For more than thirty years, Tim has gotten behind young
people like me and given us a nudge in the right direction, often
even walking with us for a while.
In the last week that I knew Tim, I badgered him
for articles long overdue that month. It was a dance we both
knew too well. Good-humored as ever, he asked for a little faith
from his editor. I mustered as much faith as I could.
To trust Tim on faith was simply doing justice
to a human who treated members of the next generation as peers,
not just as children who wouldn't understand or couldn't learn
to handle life's harsher realities.
We also shared a deep respect for pristine places
like the Smith and Salmon Rivers and once pristine places, now
troubled, such as the Klamath and Eel Rivers. Our urge to defend
those places united us in the never-ending fight for ecological
Tim McKay was a genius with a generous spirit and
an unfathomable knowledge and wisdom about complex environmental
issues. My time as his mentee and colleague was too short, but
I can already see that the connections he cultivated with young
people will bear out his life's work through the ebbs and flows
of environmental organizing for generations to come.
We will remember him by working together to sustain
his vision and by keeping a close eye on the birds that fly by.
In awe and gratitude,
— Erica Terence
As a child growing up in Westhaven Tim McKay has
always been a fixture in my life and my community. I knew him
not only as the voice of the Econews Report (he just had to be
famoushe was on the radio and everything) but also as friend.
His activism helped lead me toward an expansive environmental
consciousness that served to pull me towards water governance
When I received an email from him, while I was
in Scotland, excited about the tribal protests of Scottish Power
and asking if I would take pictures, I had no way to know the
influence he would have on my life in the next years. I obliged
an old friend and when I returned home with a Masters in International
Water Law and very few job prospects it took Tim very little
time to convince me to start volunteering on Klamath River issues.
He quickly immersed me in thick of the TMDL hearings, the PacifiCorp
relicensing of the Klamath dams, protests, tabling. The depth
of his knowledge on the issues was incredible and the confidence
that he had in me was an honor.
In January he recommended that College of the Redwoods
hire me as an adjunct Professor in environmental ethics and while
I had doubts about my ability to take on the class, Tim never
did. I found that I have a true passion for teaching and I will
forever be indebted to Tim who as a mentor provided more inspiration
and wisdom for me than I knew. His legacy in our community will
be felt in many waysone is in the encouragement, inspiration
and support he gave to me and so many other young people searching
for their place in the environmental movement. His spirit and
dedication will live on through our actions and deeds.
— Anna Schulz
I first met Tim McKay in 1987 when I was 19 years
old and starting my first semester at College of the Redwoods.
Being an outdoorsy type from Mendocino County, I had a passionate
calling to do something useful for North Coast conservation,
but I didn't really know where to start. I'd heard of the NEC
and Tim through Econews and, like a lot of people before me,
I just dropped in one day and got into a long conversation with
Tim about our National Forests and BLM lands. His sense of humor,
dedication and encyclopedic knowledge had me hooked. In short
order I was volunteering at the NEC and came to revere Tim almost
like a father. There must have been hundreds of people like me,
young, old, and in between, who were inspired by Tim's example.
Nineteen years later, in no small part due to Tim's early influence,
I'm still trying to do something useful for conservation.
I last spoke to Tim on July 27. He called to express
his joy over the progress of Representative Mike Thompson's wilderness
bill, which will hopefully be signed into law soon. He was particularly
thrilled that much of the Blue Creek watershedan important tributary
of the Klamath Riverwould receive wilderness protection.
True to form, he ended the call by reminding me
that while the wilderness bill is a tremendous step forward,
"We still have a long way to go" to protect the North
Coast's wild lands. He was not a man to rest on his laurels,
or to tolerate such behavior in people like me.
I will miss him very much.
— Ryan Henson
California Wilderness Coalition
I remember Tim from the days the NEC shared space
with a backpacking and bicycling shop. The first Econews I saw
was not a newspaper, but was more of a mimeo sheet.
Many people will think of Tim as an activist, but
this is not how I valued him. He was an administrator when we
badly needed administration. He not only put together the NEC,
he held it together, and in a world of hippies, students, and
other unemployed idealists this was invaluable. It was key to
establishing the strength and integrity of the environmental
movement on the North Coast. my point of view he also helped
establish the environmental groups in southern Humboldt County.
This is because the high-handed NEC solicited funds down here
claiming they were our environmental group, yet we, not they,
were doing all the work on our issues. Such a challenge could
not go unanswered, and it is part of the reason I incorporated
EPIC. Recently when EPIC moved to Eureka I asked Tim how he felt
about the turn-about. He was not too happy!
Of course, we all admire and respect Tim deeply,
and have long worked well with him. And if I say his successor
will have big shoes to fill, most folks will realize this is
not at all a joke.
— The man who walks in the woods,
Ettersburg, 31 July 2006
Tim McKay was a tireless champion of the environment.
For 35 years he educated, litigated and pleaded on behalf of
the natural world. His efforts sprung from his deep love of the
birds, fish, reptiles, trees, rivers, oceans and people of this
lovely portion of our beleaguered planet we call home. Often
opposed by corporate interests with much more power and money,
Tim persevered with amazing humor and grace. As we experience
killer heat waves, raging wild fires, fish die offs and melting
ice caps, his prescience is clear. The North Coast has lost an
incredible advocate and a wonderful human being.
— Damon Maguire
My children I havelot ofmemories ofThanksgivings
other occasionsTim. We also hiked the Trinity Alps the Marble
Mountains with "Mountain Man Tim" where he could name
all the various trees and plants.wouldtake the same trail back
down the mountain but rather made his own trail through the brush
trees. He is aloss to our community will be greatly missed!
— Karole Ely
When Tim called me late this past Friday afternoon,
he chided me for being out of the office early (though it was
well into the Eureka rush half-hour). And I had to give him credit.
He'd called to compare notes on one of the latest Forest Service
atrocities. The Six Rivers national forest had just gone ahead
and built that road into the Underwood roadless area that we'd
opposed for years. There was lightning, you see, and a fire,
so it was an emergency. But the environmental analysis they'd
stalled so long that would be out next week, for certain, they
said (and so it is). So now we have a nice, fat, pointless EIS,
and a new road for SPI to use, and a half-dozen bulldozers in
the roadless area. Sweet.
All the same, it was good to be talking to Tim
about it. If nothing else, it let us be annoyed with the Forest
Service instead of each other. Again, you have to give the man
his due more than two decades of being annoyed by EPIC staffers,
and he was still putting it out there, even after I'd annoyed
him only the week before (by being less annoyed than Tim, at
a different minor atrocity go figure).
So we talked about fires and fish, and the unseemly
necessity of using tragedies like this to illuminate the destruction,
too often invisible, that rushes around us. Well, okay, we didn't
actually talk about it like that. But the man knew a thing or
two about tragedy and publicity. That iconic photograph of the
2002 Klamath Fish Kill. The bumpersticker you know the one "Save
the Klamath Salmon" with the river and mountain border,
the one that has become the bioregion's unofficial flag.
We didn't talk much about the just-passed North
Coast Wilderness bill just then, and I wish I'd made him say
more. I know he was especially pleased to get the additions to
the Siskiyou Wilderness. And we should give the man his due that's
the McKay wilderness, up there to Blue Creek, around Bear Basin
So there you have it. A force of and for nature,
an activist to the end. We'll need a baker's dozen to replace
him. Have you signed the petition?
— Scott Greacen
Public Lands Coordinator
EPIC - the environmental protection information center
I first met Tim McKay many years ago at the old
NEC office in Arcata. I had long been concerned about the Klamath
River's declining water quality and quantity. Having done a fair
amount of investigation and observation of the Klamath system,
I saw a need for change, but frankly, short of stealing a fighter
jet and bombing the Klamath and Trinity dams, I had no clue on
how to improve the river. Many people in Humboldt County and
most people in the rest of the country had never heard of the
Klamath River and were unconcerned with its problems.
I had heard of Tim McKay and the NEC, but at that
time I was a part time logger and did not think much of environmentalists.
Since I was not doing well getting the public or the government
interested in the Klamath problems, I decided to try the NEC.
I remember my first visit to the old NEC office
well. Walking in the front door one was immediately struck with
a musty, moldy smell. The front room had randomly placed books,
clothes and knickknacks for sale. There were large piles of free
new and old papers, some dating back to John Muir. There were
files full of old papers and journals and randomly placed books-all
contributing to the moldy smell. Strange looking people were
randomly moving around. Connie Stewart was running around gesturing
wildly and talking rapidly. Tim's office in the back room was
even more disorganized with huge piles of paper, clippings, books
and other long lost treasures piled to the ceiling. Tim was a
large, full bearded man who seemed disconnected and not very
interested in my detailed (possibly long and boring) Klamath
analysis and graphs. The only being in the NEC who seemed to
know what he was doing was Tim's dog who was quietly sleeping
in the back room. This was the epicenter of the local environmental
movement; feared by loggers, developers, etc. My initial impression
was that this group was too disorganized to take out the trash
let alone cure the Klamath River problems.
Was I ever wrong about Tim and the NEC. In the
ensuing years, Tim and I became good friends, and although we
disagreed at times, we spent many hours taking guests up the
Klamath River and traveling to water meetings. We shared a devotion
to the Klamath River. Tim was very bright; he remembered and
understood everything I ever told him. He was able to enlist
the aid and interest of many people from all walks of life in
Klamath issues. I watched in awe as he worked his magic to raise
the level of public awareness of the Klamath problems. He commanded
respect and admiration from most he came in contact with. He
worked tirelessly on finding solutions and bringing diverse groups
together to accept those solutions. Tim was a very modest man
and would be uncomfortable with these tributes. He would especially
be embarrassed by being compared to Harry Truman but he exemplifies
my favorite Truman saying: "It is amazing what you can accomplish
if you do not care who gets the credit." Tim has done more
to help the Klamath River than any person I know and I will miss
— Denver Nelson
I approached Tim five or six years back as a naïve,
woefully under-informed reporter in over my head on a complicated
environmental story. "I don't want to be quoted," he
told me off the bat, when I corralled him at the NEC office.
After patiently offering background, and giving concise answers
to my questions about some fine point of environmental law, he
handed me a file: a comprehensive collection of magazine stories,
newspaper clippings, pamphlets, government reports and the like,
all on that particular subject. "You should find what you
need in here," he told me, then returned to the stack of
newspapers he'd been reading. He was, as always, working on an
ever growing library with cabinets and shelf after shelf filled
with paper-stuffed files in the NEC office on 9th Street, archives
on everything from abortion, agribusiness and air pollution to
waterfowl and water quality.
In the summer of 2001 almost all of those files
burned in a conflagration that consumed the whole building. (See
Journal cover story, "Up in Smoke: The Arcata Fire,"
August 2, 2001.) The day after the fire I found Tim and his right
hand man Sid Dominitz poking around in the ashes. With firemen
were still dousing the last of the embers, Tim and Sid had pulled
a charred but still intact file cabinet from the rubble. Tim
was obviously in shock, a fair portion of his life had gone into
amassing the library that had just gone up in smoke, all those
words blowing in the wind, nevertheless he was looking forward,
sure some of the contents of that cabinet could be salvaged,
that the center could be rebuilt. I saw at that moment that the
papers were just a small part of the dream he'd helped build:
a center focused on respect for the environment. I knew the phoenix
would shake off the ashes and fly again, that the dream would
live on just as it will now that Tim is gone. The big man may
have died Sunday, but his work will go on.
— Bob Doran,
staff writer, North Coast Journal
My life crossed paths with Tim's even before I
arrived on Arcata's shore. My friend John, who lived in Arcata,
knew I was interested in and involved with environmental issues,
so he mailed copies of the Econews Report to me. I was intrigued
by the breadth and depth of Tim's writing ability of the wide
variety of environmental issues he reported on. It helped inspire
me to decide to come to Humboldt County to check out the environmental
activist scene in July of 1991, a year after the renowned Redwood
I met Tim formally when I was working as a volunteer
at the old ACAT public access TV studio in the Judo Hut and he
started delivering videos to the station on a wide variety of
environmental activism topics to be slotted into the station's
TV programming schedule. It was then that I started visiting
the NEC and familiarizing myself with the myriad local actions
going on around the bioregion.
I had been volunteering as the recording engineer
for the old "Native Voices" KHSU radio program, and,
around 1997, serendipitously was asked by Katie Whiteside to
become the engineer for Tim's long-running "Econews Report."
I jumped at the chance to work with him and to become intimately
kept up-to-date weekly, on local, regional, and world issues.
Tim had an incredible ability to get at the gist
of the interviewee's topic with questions, comments and humor
that totally amazed me and inspired me. He had a mile-long knowledge
of any topic mentioned and could interpret it successfully for
his listeners' edification. I'll especially miss his wry sense
of humor, such as when he would tellguest to "stand by"
at the beginning of the recording session while we "ran
the digits," whichwould jokingly saynow technologically
superceded "rolling the tape." Or when he would quote
his daughter Laurel's favorite slogan asking, "Why aren't
we rioting?" at some outrageous government decision.
Many of his radio programs have been archived and
dozens are available for listening on the NEC website: www.yourNEC.org.
KHSU volunteer, engineer for KHSU's Econews Report.
I arrived in Arcata in the spring of 1973 to attend
Humboldt State College - I didn't know a soul....as I walked
down from the collegehome dorms towards town the first evening
I was in Arcata, I passed a rambling home on the corner next
to the freeway, logging trucks whizzing by, and saw a beautiful
garden, a funny dog and a fellow sitting on the front porch who
said "Good evening young lady". So began our 30+ year
friendship that spanned the start of the environmental center,
the recycling center, Butler Valley Dam, 5th District supervisorial
races, G-O Road, Econews deadlines, our children growing up,
the NEC burning down and the plans for a new, modern, appropriate
home for the NEC. I'll never forget my struggle to decide whether
I should move from Humboldt County to Washington, DC - I knew
Tim had incredible opportunities to come here and do his environmental
work in the nation's capitol. His perspective on why he should
stay and why I should go is a conversation I've thought of many
times these past 6 years I've been gone. He taught me the importance
of being strong and clear when the fight got tough, the value
of a sense of humor and the power of knowing the facts. His passion
for knowledge, for the simple beauty of the outdoors and the
incredible pleasure of sighting everything from a plover to a
river otter to a giant redwood is what I will always treasure
and remember of Tim.........
— Kate M Krebs,
Executive Director, National Recycling Coalition, Inc.,
I first met Tim McKay when reapportionment brought
me to the North Coast to run for State Senate in 1993. I set
up meetings with key community leaders in the county, individuals
from across the political spectrum that represented business,
local government, education, timber, fishing, and of course,
the environment. I had been advised: you did not come to the
North Coast to talk about resource issues without sitting down
with Tim McKay at the Northcoast Environmental Center. It was
a good meeting; Tim helped pull together a group and we met in
the old NEC office, in the back room, piled high with newspapers,
documents and stacks of Eco News.
He checked me out with a wary eye as we discussed
a number of issues: from the coastline to the health of the rivers
to his view on timber management on private and public lands.
He was well informed, had opinions and a breadth of knowledge
that I admired. We definitely connected on wildlife issues: habitat
protection for birds and waterfowl. Tim was well known for his
love of birding, his expertise as a bona fide Audubon member.
In fact, I think it was at a California Waterfowl Dinner that
Tim won the door prize a very nice Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun.
Whenever we met after that, I always kidded him about that shotgun;
did he take it birding or had he finally taken up hunting? He
took the good-natured jabbing and gave it back with humor.
Tim was a loyal allay but he was also a very dedicated
adversary. I often checked in for his take on resource issues.
Most of the time, we found ourselves on the same side. Nevertheless,
there were occasions when we disagreed. I supported salvage logging
after the Megram Fire on the Six Rivers National Forest. Tim
did not. He was not pleased and tried to convince me otherwise.
I have books he gave me on historic fire management to prove
But we forged a fierce alliance when it came to
the state of the Klamath River. After three Cabinet Secretaries
came out to open the canal gates and after the Bush administration's
Klamath water plan failed and the fish started dying by the tens
of thousands, we mobilized action. We worked together. Tim was
a visionary. From day one, he understood how the imperiled Klamath
would affect the resource and impact the local economy. He led
the effort to keep up the pressure and he was a key actor in
efforts to restore the Klamath.
We are going to miss him. Tim was my friend and
I will miss him.
— Congressman Mike Thompson
First and last, Tim McKay was my friend; always
loyal, frequently rough edged and curmudgeonly, but almost always
he could make me laugh.
My first memory of Tim was in 1967 (the Summer
of Love), when I passed through Arcata as a teenager. There weren't
too many environmentalists, progressives or even Democrats in
Arcata in those days. Even the students at Humboldt State College
back then were mostly conservative. The "hippies" lived
in a big house by the old stoplight at 17th Street and Highway
101. I remember it as "The Brown House", although others
remember it as "The Gray House".
But it's where I met Tim McKay and John Wooley
and other friends who I still know today. Even then they were
cooking up ways to get young people involved in the political
process to try and make the world a better place. Both Tim and
John ran and were elected in the late sixties to lead the student
government. No doubt a sign of things to come.
A few years later when I returned to Arcata to
attend college (HSC was not yet officially a University), and
during the following thirty-seven years, I got to know Tim as
a tireless and dedicated activist fighting for our beloved northcoast
In 1972 I remember going to a little office on
the first floor of the Arcata Hotel to sign up for the children's
crusade to remove Richard Nixon from office with an anti Viet
Nam War candidate named Senator George McGovern. There was Tim
helping to coordinate our grassroots effort. While we lost that
election in a nationwide landslide and we only got rid of Nixon
through impeachment, lessons learned locally helped us the following
year to defeat the proposed Butler Valley dam at the ballot box,
and win many election to come.
The friendships born at the Brown House later spawned
the softball team that came to be known as the Northcoast Environmental
Center Snail Darters. Tim named the team after that indomitable
little fish that stopped a dam in Tennessee. And Tim was the
stalwart on a team that mostly just liked to have a good time
playing ball, and even let a token politician with questionable
softball skills swing the bat (me).
I was present at the birth of the Northcoast Environmental
Center as the first Executive Director, but in its early stages
it could best be described as having great unfulfilled potential.
It was only under Tim's thirty five years of leadership that
NEC became what it is today: a nationally recognized and locally
vital resource that has constantly brought us back to seeing
activism for protecting the environment through the prism of
good information and good science.
Tim was a passionate warrior for the fish, the
mountains, the rivers and the forests of our beloved northcoast.
But lessons learned in the political process taught him to believe
that advocacy well grounded in facts will best carry forward
what we first know in our hearts to be true.
He was also tenacious. When he made a commitment
to something; a friendship, a heartfelt cause, a beloved place
or an endangered species, he never relented or let go of that
commitment. Every time I talked to Tim I knew I could count on
him to express that passion and long term commitment.
But most of all, Tim was my friend and that just
can't be replaced.
— Wes Chesbro
I first met Tim in 1991. I was living in Los Angeles
and was just becoming involved with national forest protection
issues. I don't remember exactly how it came about but I went
to Washington DC to lobby during one of those really super big
lobby trips. Jim Jontz was in Congress and the Ancient Forest
Protection Act had just been introduced. During that week, I
met Connie Stewart we became fast friends. It was Connie who
ultimately invited me to join the board of American Lands Alliance
some years later. We still laugh to this day because we were
both vegetarians when we started that lobby week but wound up
gustily eating cheeseburgers by the end. We were so frazzled
with Jontz urging us on to "go to meetings, more meetings,
visit more offices."
Sometime that summer, Tim was having a party and
I went up to Arcata to visit Connie and see the forests. That
was when I met Tim and Sid. It was very hot and I remember talking
to Tim in his backyard. He was sharing his philosophy with me
about forest issues. His view was that if the US stopped logging
federal forests, then the cut would just move to other countries
where there were no environmental laws or very weak ones at best.
I hadn't considered that perspective before. In fact, Tim had
views on many issues that I hadn't considered before.
Tim was a founding member of WAFC the Western Ancient
Forest Campaign. We now go by the name of American Lands Alliance
and I am the executive Director. We owe a great many thanks to
Tim and the other founding board members who banded together
and stood up in Washington DC for the Ancient Forests of the
Pacific Northwest and the local groups who work everyday to protect
I stayed in touch with Tim all these years. He
amazed me because he was always on top of so many issues. He
never hesitated to help with the Northern California delegation
in any way he could when national forests were concerned. I was
a guest on his radio show several times. He worked late, and
I would phone him from DC and we would talk about a lot of things
from global warming to local politics to his kids.
It is hard to lose a friend.
— Randi Spivak,
Executive Director, American Lands Alliance
Have dealt w/him many times on a number of different
levels. As a resident of Arcata. As a councilperson there. As
a field representative for Assemblyman Dan Hauser. As a Humboldter...just
a citizen on the street. As a friend. As an environmentally conscience
Yes, he could be agreeable. He could be cantankerous.
Yet, he had a point of view and was willing to tell you what
it was... That is what life is all about. How many of us really....and
I mean really....know how to communicate? Whether it is to our
spouses, our family, our fellow employees, our friends...whoever.
We have trouble with that...don't we? Especially when the issue/topic
is controversial. Well, Tim didn't. He has always been able to
'speak the words' whenever necessary/appropriate. He was courteous.
Not too rude. A loveable hunk of humanity.
God bless, Tim. I look forward to his quips when
I see him again... He was a good fellow and now Heaven is his
home. I hope I am good enough to get there.
— Steve Leiker
There are so many fronts on which Tim was committed
to putting the environment first. Most probably knew of his work
on the Klamath fishery and others on forestry andissues but not
many are aware of his efforts to make the NEC's newbe the most
environmentallyand politically correcton the northcoast. Tim
heard about the "green" or "sustainable"
or "high-performance" buildings being designed under
the LEED guidelines and knew right away that the NEC's buildingto
use that system. The system creates a beautiful indoor space
that is healthier for the inhabitants while using local or sustainable
building materials, uses less energy and water and produces less
waste. Even though the building would cost more he was committed
to seeing it get built. When an underground tank surfaced at
the site he took it in stride and said, "we must practice
what we preach" and ordered the work done to get the site
cleaned up. Tim was a leader and a visionary.
We'll miss you Tim.
— Steve Salzman
This truly is a sad day. I'm at a loss for words.
The three of you guys impacted my life in more ways then you
can know. I remember the first time walking into the old office.
Amazed at the history, and massive amount of environmental literature,
I felt extremely lucky that I had been given the opportunity
to work with the NEC. Why and how a Federal program put me in
this position I will never understand, but as you know sometimes
things happen that are out of our hands. Today is exactly one
of those days. The cast of characters that surrounded Tim and
the NEC have been apart of more of my life stories then you can
imagine. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be
apart of the NEC family. What a unique experience those years
were. They will last a lifetime and can never be lost.
As far as inspiration; the energy, endurance, and
persistence, to work day in and day out, taught me the true meaning
of sacrifice. Tim's life work protecting the Northwest has had
affects in all areas of the environmental movement. Not a semester
has gone by in my studies at Vermont Law School without some
mention of the Kalamath River, the Redwoods, or the state of
our Oceans and Marine Ecosystems. His work, whether present in
today's natural resource practices, is having a significant affect
on the environmental legal profession. The Kalamath is now the
number one water law case in the United States; all eyes are
on his work and dedication.
I will always be thankful that I had the opportunity
to share a piece of my life with Tim McKay and the NEC. Today
my thoughts and prayer are with his family and friends.
— Joshua Gorman
Remembrances of Tim
I first met Tim 33 years ago, while I was a student
at HSU working toward my teaching credential. I was spending
time with one of his room mates, Siddig Kilkenny at the time.
I remember being amazed at all he knew even back then, about
all of the plants and birds of the area. We started to spend
time together, to go backpacking into the local wilderness areas
and birding here and in Del Norte County. He saved up his money
from working part time as a janitor for Stanton's restaurants
so we could have surf and turf at the old Merryman's restaurant
for my 21st birthday in 1973.
He was really into taking photos, a love he passed
on to our daughter Laurel, and he had thought of doing a dark
room in our house in Arcata, the infamous "C Street"
house. He documented all of our aspects of our lives together;
from trips to the southwest for an incredible flower season in
1978 and to China in the fall of 1979 when we went on the first
"natural history tour" with the Audubon society, to
the birth of our 2 kids, Laurel and Forrest and their years growing
Birding what a fitting activity for him to have
been doing when he died it was certainly one of his main enjoyments
in life. We predicated on numerous Christmas bird counts (he
as the birder, I was the number keeper) even going on ones in
Orange County when we were out of town for the holidays. We also
participated in Birdathons, where we would sleep in the green
Datsun station wagon (which was a car that we got from my folks)
and get up in the dark to start owling up above Smith River and
end up in Arcata at the redwood forest for varied thrushes at
dusk. I remember when I was pregnant with Laurel, and I made
he and Gary Lester stop at the Ship-A-Shore for breakfast, a
big no-no on a birdathon because it takes precious time away
from the "big day". Tim was one the one who first saw
the common grackle in Arcata (for a new county record) from our
yard and I actually saw him fall off of the front porch of the
C street house in excitement when he focused his binoculars on
the bird and realized what it was! The word went out amongst
birders and within a matter of what seemed like just moments,
folks were there to add the bird to their "life" lists.
Tim, like all other birders had quite a life list. He would,
like any hard core birder, go out of town for a species that
he didn't have on his life list yet, such as the kingbird we
went to see in Oakland so he could add it.
He was arrested once in Arcata for "turkey
at large". He had not paid his ticket/fine for our ducks
and turkey getting out of the yard at C street (that was in the
days when Arcata actually had a "dog catcher" ) and
the Arcata PD actually came on a Friday night and arrested him
for that. Fortunately I had cash for some reason, and I was able
to bail him out. I remember hearing him yelling at the Arcata
PD "Why are you arresting me for my turkey??? Why aren't
you finding the guy who stole my power saw?"
In 1976, after living together for a few years
and getting married, we left behind the C Street house and we
bought the house in Westhaven on 8th Ave. Tim lived in that house
until he died. I go into that house now and I can hardly remember
living there for 14 years. That our son Forrest was "accidentally"
born there, Forrest having decided that he was going to be born
now! But I see curtains that I made, the addition that we did,
the tree that we planted when Forrest was born, the furniture
that I had used as a changing table for the kids, many photos
of my kids over varying years and the molding outside of Laurel's
bedroom where we measured the kids as they were growing up. I
see the apple mint that I mistakenly planted in the yard that
still to this day running rampant. The greenhouse that we added
to the back of the house and the old apple tree on which we always
had to leave some apples, for the birds of course!
I could go on and on about the memories, mostly
good. The work we did on getting the Siskiyous's declared wilderness,
the NEC plant sale that we started and did for many years, the
moving of the NEC into its own building (which we thought at
the time we could never use all of that space!) and watching
the NEC grow into the amazing organization that it is today,
thanks to Tim's hard work. But of course the most important thing
to me from Tim was our kids; Laurel and Forrest who have grow
up to be truly wonderful, kind and caring individuals.
— Chris Jenican Beresford
In Memory Of Tim McKay - A Larger Than Life Conservation
I first ran into Tim McKay in a barn in the Illinois
Valley 8 years ago where we were meeting as the Klamath-Siskiyou
Alliance - a hodgepodge of national and local conservation groups
banding together to save this remarkable place. Tim's larger
than life persona and his commitment to conservation were part
of his grizzly appearance, but deep down inside, I would come
to know the man as a kindred spirit with a vision for a better
world. Tim's professional life was guided by a noble cause, however,
there just wasn't enough time in one person's life to save the
many threatened acres, rivers, and salmon even with Tim working
tirelessly and passionately. Because of Tim, every time I see
salmon breaching a rapid on the Klamath or marvel in the wonders
of a cobra lily in some northern California roadless area, I
will remember the unstoppable Tim McKay and why we still have
the few untrammeled places he fought so hard to protect.
The last time I saw Tim was two years ago at a
Mike Thompson field hearing on the Klamath in Arcata. He was
excited about how close we were to bringing back the salmon runs
on the Klamath and he walked the halls with celebrity status
and the notoriety he had deserved. Later, we had a beer at his
house and talked about nationalizing Klamath restoration and
passing the North Coast Wilderness Act. Tim marveled not in his
many accomplishments but the places that still needed protection
including his favorite Blue Creek. This sacred Yurok site and
the last repudiated account of the California grizzly bear should
be Tim's monument to his life-long dedication as codified by
the North Coast Wilderness Act. Tim's grizzly persona and the
last grizzly location would be a perfect and honorable ending
to his life and a reminder that his work will continue as long
as there are California activists to follow in his larger-than-life
footsteps. Here's to Tim McKay "heaven is a roadless area"
your work goes on!
— Dominick A. DellaSala, Ph.D.
Executive Director Conservation Science Policy Programs National
Center for Conservation Science Policy
(and Tim's friend!)
I had the honor and privilege to work with Tim
on the creation of the Smith River National Recreation Area back
in 1990. For years, efforts had been made to protect the Smith
River from logging its undammed waters provided habitat for some
of the best salmon and steelhead runs in California, but plans
to log in the steep canyons of the Smith threatened these fisheries,
along with the scenic and recreational values that make the Smith
River a special place.
In 1990, the Forest Service proposed developing
a national recreation area for the Smith River area. Their proposal
was minimal in nature, with little protection offered against
logging, mining or other forms of development. The Sierra Club,
Smith River Alliance and Northcoast Environmental Center decided
to improve the bill, and enlisted the support of Rep. Doug Bosco
as their champion.
When it came time to map the proposed protected
areas, expansions of the Siskiyou Wilderness, and additions to
the Wild and Scenic River System, a small group of us sat down
over beers and burritos in the Mexican Restaurant across the
street from the Northcoast Environmental Center with a map of
the Six Rivers National Forest. Tim was at his best that day.
Drawing on his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the forest, Tim
took a black felt marker and drew bold lines around the unfragmented
watersheds still remaining in the Smith River, added the G-O
Road to the Siskiyou Wilderness with a few additional lines,
and in the end identified over 300,000 acres for inclusion in
the proposed National Recreation Area.
Tim's lines on the map became the basis for the
version of the Smith River National Recreation Area Act that
Rep. Bosco moved through the House, and Sen. Alan Cranston pushed
through the Senate. The bill passed both houses during the last
hours of the 101st Congress, with the lines on the map and the
additions to the Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers systems
substantially the same as the lines drawn by Tim. The map still
sits in a vault in Washington, D.C., refererenced by the statute
that created and implemented the Smith River National Recreation
Area, and part of Tim's legacy to the North Coast.
Bold, knowledgeable and alert to possibilities
to protect the Northcoast's environment those features stand
out in my mind as I think of Tim and his marker, and the mark
he made on the Northcoast during his many years as an activist
— Jim Owens
The Brainerd Foundation
I first met Tim in 1986, on my way to KHSU-FM where
we both volunteered. I normally wore my hair in corn rows but
all of my braids were out and I had my hair up in the biggest
afro ever seen on the North Coast.
Apparently it made an impression, because Tim often
told the story of watching me make my way across campus that
Tim was up at the station to record ECONEWS Report,
which is the longest running public affairs show on KHSU-FM.
Tim would show up at the station with a bag full of clippings
and read into the microphone all of the environmental news that
affected the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion that he could fit into
a half hour.
For almost twenty years, once a week North Coast
residents could tune in to hear Tim's deep melodic voice ranting
on issues on concerns with the passion of an embedded war reporter.
About two years after first meeting Tim, I applied
for the job as Office Manager at the Northcoast Environmental
Center. I would love to tell you that Tim, who had been the center's
Director of eighteen years, hired me because of my impressive
resume. The real reason I was picked was because in High School
I organized blood drives and Tim had always wanted to give blood
but never had taken the time. He became an avid donor for the
rest of his life.
My 20-hour a week job was simply to recruit enough
volunteers to keep the doors open six days a week, run the small
retail and organize a couple of blood drives a year. Over the
years as other staff left I picked up their jobs and eventually
the NEC became my full-time gig. When asked I would described
my role at the NEC as, "I'm Mom and Tim is Dad."
If you walked into the NEC to see Tim, the first
image was him sitting behind his desk towering with paper and
canvas bags filled with newspapers laying at his feet. To Tim,
anything less than clutter would have looked unproductive.
Everyday he would read newspaper after newspaper
with a yellow highlighter in hand, marking stories related to
the environment. Scores of volunteers would then cut out the
clippings and neatly fold them and leave them in piles on his
desk. Tim would sit in his chair and shift through them with
an intense look on his face. He would put them into stacks, rubber
band them together and put a post it note on the top. You could
bring up a topic and Tim would immediately say, "last week
there was a story. . ." and start rifling through stacks
of clippings and within a minute or two would find the article.
Tim read everything. He was the Klamath-Siskiyou
Bioregion's environmental historian.
Some of my favorite memories of working at the
NEC were jumping in Tim's car with its famous "ECOLOVE"
license plate and driving around the bioregion listening to Tim
tell stories that gave importance to every feature of the landscape.
At NEC, Tim created a place where just about every
personality was welcome. I used to compare the NEC to the eco-version
of the T.V. show "Cheers." We had our regularsfolks
that would stop by everyday on the way to the post office or
the Co-op. Sometimes they would stay a couple of minutes, but
sometimes they would get sucked in for hours.
Most of the time the NEC was a happy place to hang
out and talk about life. Except for at the end of month. That
is when we were putting together our newsletter, the ECONEWS,
and Tim's articles were always late. Tim turned procrastination
into an art! Word would spread though out the communityDon't
call and don't go into to see Tim. But some unexpected young
activist would always innocently come in and Tim would take a
half-hour to talk.
I remember once going to Tim to complain about
a well known homeless environmental activist that I thought was
spending too much time hanging around the center. Tim's response
was to give the guy a key and tell him he could stay on the couch
as long as he cleaned the floors and the bathrooms. Over the
years many other homeless activist would sleep on the couch.
The thing I will be forever grateful to Tim for
is his support for the things I did outside of my work at NEC.
In 1996, I was elected to the Arcata City Council and occasionally
an NEC donor would go to Tim to complain about a vote I made
at a council meeting. Some longtime donors even pulled there
support. Tim would just give me a hug, shrug it off and tell
me to keep doing what I was doing.
Tim also got a lot of pleasure asking people who
would come in to see me on city business, "Are you a member?"
What ever donations we lost due to my tenure on the council,
Tim sure made up from asking that question. One community member
gave the NEC a $1,000 donation for unlimited access.
I was 23 when I first started work at the NEC and
stayed on for 14 years.
Nowadays you can go anywhere in the region unafraid
to call yourself an environmentalist. But it wasn't like that
when I went to work at the NEC.
Tim had all 4 lug nuts on his car loosened, there
were death threats andwhat disturbed him the mosthis kids were
harassed at school. You couldn't find a kind word in a local
newspaper about Tim. He had a target on his back everyday.
What Tim stood for that seemed so unreasonable
back then is wholeheartedly accepted as just the way it is now.
We have Tim to thank for that.
The Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion's environmental
historian whose own life history was too short.
— Connie Stewart
Tim McKay was a very dear friend, and I am sad
to see him leave this earth that he loved so much so abrubtly.
His passion for nature and environmental protection will live
on in all who new him, and serve to inspire us to step up our
own activisem and connection to nature.
I first met Tim in 1975 while working with the
Friends of Del Norte, a group that I have chaired off and on
for most of the past 30 years. While at HSU we worked on many
issues together, mostly related to forest management and protection
of our regions watersheds. It was ten years of working for the
Siskiyou Wilderness that cemented our friendship. Tim, ex-wife
Chris, Greg Bloomstrom, and others started Save our Siskiyou's,
which became the Siskiyou Mountains Resources Council. A few
visits to this amazing wilderness empowered us to work relentlessly
for its Wilderness status, granted in 1984. Tim deserves major
credit for making this happen, using his role as director of
the NEC to create several publications on the Siskiyous and to
get the word out thousands of people who all helped make it happen.
I'll never forget the huge stack of hundreds of pages of documentation
to support our testimony that Tim put together for me to deliver
in Wasington DC at the Subcommittee for Public Lands Wilderness
hearings, and putting together maps with Tim to share at those
hearings. Tim was passionate about stopping the GO Road, which
threatened to divide off the Blue Creek portion of the wilderness.
He helped to organize Native American leaders such as spiritual
leader Charlie Tom , which was key to stopping road construction
through holy grounds. I'll never forget the joy in Time's heart
when we were able to gather in a large circle at the roads end
near the wilderness boundary, after passage of the Smith River
National Recreation Area Act once and for all settled this issue
and made the road corridor wilderness.
Tim loved to share the story of our backpack trip
to Rattlesnake Meadows on the side of Preston Peak, where we
rondezvoued one summer. I had stopped by to see Ted Souza in
Gasquet on the way in, and Ted gave me a freshly caught salmon
to carry in. Was Tim ever surprised when I pulled a 10 pound
fish out of my backpack for dinner! Tim's ability to go to the
Siskiyou's was later compromised by debilitating arthritis in
his feet. In a way I was his surrogate wilderness traveler, as
we shared a passion for viewing slide shows of my explorations
of our beloved Siskiyous. We talked of some day horsepacking
him back to Rattlesnake meadows to share another meal. I will
forever carry Tim's love of these mountains with me as I walk.
Tim loved to visit our home and gardens on the
South Fork Smith River. He loved to joke about my obsession for
collecting rocks for building projects and rock borders. I was
the brunt of a lot of jokes and we shared a lot of laughfter
over this. Tim loved to see people passionate about any kind
of natural connection. I think it made his huge heart grow bigger.
He always left with a few of his own rocks to put in his garden,
and thought I should bring some for the NEC auction.
Upon learning of Timmy's sudden death yesterday
morning, and after a lot of tears and phone calls, I spent time
with Tim gathering rocks on a large bar on the other side of
the river. I have been building a small retaining wall in front
of the house to create space for a rock fire pit. Tim and Michelle
were going to come up and stay a few days while Tim recuperated
from prostate surgery. I wanted to have a place for us to enjoy
a campfire on the edge of the wilderness. I decided to select
some rocks in honor of Tim to place in the wall/bench and fire
pit. I found a small heart shaped rock several inches wide, but
it seemed too small to represent Tim's huge heart. Beyond Tim's
well known activism, he was a warm, loving, giving soul. If only
we all had Tim's ability to share that love for so many things,
for so many people. Of course I found a larger heart rock, one
made of our sparse granite with quartz intrusions that must have
tumbled down from the Siskiyous. It will be place in our wall
to honor Tim.
Tim was always about putting the message out there,
and one of the ways he did it was with bumper stickers. He loved
plastering "Ecolove", his car, with messages, and when
the back end was full he began covering the car top carrier.
I had just purchased some stickers at the Solar Living Center,
and decided that as another act to honor Tim, I should place
yet another sticker on my car, which I did. We will all honor
Tim with our words and our love, but he would want nothing more
than for all of us to step up our commitment to act for change,
for building sustainable communities, to honor all living things
and protect our watersheds and our planet.
And of course, we all know Tim for his undying
passion for the
Econews, the NEC and the new building. We should
honor Tim with an outpouring of donations to build the new Tim
McKay Center for the Environment as soon as possible. Let's make
this happen to honor Tim's work and all who are associated with
the NEC. Let's buy enough bricks to build it, now, and create
a legacy that we can all participate in and continue to be part
of. Tim deserves nothing less.
— Joe Gillespie
Tim had one of the best environmental minds, hearts
and souls of anybody I have ever worked with. The Redwoods trees,
the Klamath, the northcoast, his friends and colleagues will
— Tom Campbell
A Scientist's Perspective on Tim McKay's Legacy
I have known Tim from the time we first moved back
to Northern California in the early 80's as a Forest Service
scientist. From the first, I really appreciated all that he brought
to many issues. To me, I feel strongly that his uniqueness and
strength lay in his science-based approach to environmentalism.
While mild hyperbole was occasionally among his weapons, he was
always careful to base his positions, and those of NEC, upon
the solid foundation of good science. He sought reliable information,
and found that the strength of environmentalism, and the justness
of its cause, was such that he didn't need to resort to exaggeration!
I will greatly miss his gentle strength, good humor,
consistency, and leadership.
— Dr. C. John Ralph
U.S. Forest Service, Redwood Sciences Laboratory,
Me, Tim, and the Springers
To a good friend and colleague in these changing
times. Tim it's way beyond words for me to express how I feel.
It was only yesterday that we were on a call together working
on the details for removing those blasted Klamath Dams and finally
Bring the Salmon Home. As far as a specific time for remembering,
it was all a time to remember when I think of the timber sale
hikes, meetings with the agencies and industry on logging, fires,
fish, rivers, herbicides, weeds, communities, add infinitum.
One of the events that l was when we did the cooperative Spring
Chinook Salmon snorkel dives in the Salmon River in 1996. I thought
I'ld remember us and the wild "Springers" because you
understood how the Spring Chinook only in the Klamath, due to
lack of stock recognition and species management only in the
Klamath. I've picked this story because similar to your passing
over to the higher grounds so it seems goes the way of the wild
Spring Chinook runs from the Klamath/Trinity Basin who are disappearing
with less than a couple hundred left where there used to be hundreds
It was Wednesday July 23rd, 2006 and you'ld just
come in with your old green Datsun from the coast the night before
and camped with us on the Salmon River. We ate breakfast, held
our cooperative daily planning and safety meeting with everyone,
got our gear together and headed out to our reach assignment.
We swam, walked, and slid down the headwaters in our reach in
the Upper South Fork, one of twenty two that the other teams
were surveying simultaneously, was 3 miles of winding pools and
riffles. We swam through one of the riffles into a deep pool
above Blindhorse Creek and counted 13 adult "springers"
and four summer steelhead circling the below and trying to avoid
I remember you saying how inspired it made you
to see these wild animals still here over time and on the face
of the earth. At the end of the day we left the river, went to
dinner, sang songs and told stories with all the participants
around the campfire about our experiences, knowledge and how
we're going to help "fix" the world and bring the Spring
Now you've gone back to the Maker, to the place
where we've all come from and go to,
eventually. You can rest assured, old friend, that
we will carry on the good fight, the dams will come down, the
salmon will come back, the rivers will run clean, and the people
will realize how to remember that ecological thinking is being
responsible, responsible living is being ecological., people
we've got to see, how to set yourself free.
Some of the things I can reassure you with is that
I'm going to re-up my lifetime membership to Econews, hand out
1,000 "Un Dam the Klamath" bumper stickers this year,
help Erica and staff put out Econews, go with Sid to Wednesday
night poker, get the new NEC building up, and say to myself in
hard times working on socio/enviro issues, "What would Tim
say about this?" Power to the People - Peace on Earth =
Healthy Enviornment and oh yeah- and Wild Spring Chinook Forever.
— Salmon River - Petey Brucker
Uncle Tim, Big Mac and Tim were some of the names
I used for this special man over the 33 years of our friendship.
Each name addressed a different aspect of our relationship; and
conjures up a different facet of this remarkable individual.
We met as young "eco-zealots," a label
that we wore proudly, particularly in those early years when
Humboldt county could fairly be described as living behind the
In January 1975, we were hired simultaneously to
lead the still fledgling Northcoast Environmentql Center. While
I remained only twenty months, Tim stayed 31 years and through
his persistence, creativity and boundless dedication established
the NEC as a respected, effective voice for environmentql protection.
He, himself, became a near legend due not only to his longevity
in his leadership role but equally his breadth of interests,
knowledge, and relationships that together elevated him to almost
a renaissance man.
In retrospect I can now understand how my various
names for him simply reflect his complexity. Uncle Tim made time
for a multitude of individuals whom he befriended over the years.
Big Mac was his tougher side, such as when he would threaten
to sit on me during our occasional differences in environmental
priorities or strategy. He could be intimidating; he knew it
but he exercised his imposing physical presence with humor.
Writing this after being four months in Italy provides
the perspective to genuinely appreciate Tim's renaissance qualities.
He would be the first to scoff; indeed dismiss, such an epithet
as hyperbole. But it is not. Simply recall Tim's insatiable intellectual
interests, as reflected in his house bulging with books ranging
from botany to history to various philosophies and of course
his beloved native plants and birds. Throw in his diverse areas
of endeavor from native plant nurseries, annual birdathon, NEC
library, Snail Darters softball team that helped humanize relations
between the "ecofreaks and timber beasties," his monthly
EcoNews column that often provided insightful analysis and occasional
diatribes that stimulated one's thinking, his weekly Eco Radio;
and the list goes on. One sweet song aptly notes that one's worth
is measured by the love that you leave behind. By this criteria,
Tim was an incredibly valuable leader of the environmenal movement,
an unforgettable character and a damn fine man.
— John Amodio
We have to bring the dams down.
Tim Mckay was my friend and fellow NEC'er for the
last 30 plus years. I really don't want to write this tribute
to Tim, because writing it is somehow an acceptance that he is
gone and I am just not ready to accept that Tim isn't just a
phone call away or still sitting at his desk at the NEC. He really
was a "BIG GUY" on so many levels in so many ways.
Big on devotion, intellect, love of the natural world, birds,
insects, plants and politics.
For so many of us the NEC and Tim Mckay are synonymous
and inseparable. In the 25 years I spent as a Board member and
Board President of the Northcoast Environmental Center we fought
and won many battles . In my mind the battles in the 1970's to
stop the construction of the GO road in the Siskiyou Mountains
and the establishment of the Siskiyou Wilderness in Six Rivers
National Forest was where the real prowess of Tim Mckay as an
influential force in managing the public lands became obvious.
From that point on The Northcoast Environmental Center and Tim
Mckay were the focal point for those of us who were fighting
to stop the liquidation of our publically owned forests.
Of course being the Board " El Presidante"
,as I used to be called , to an organization run by Tim Mckay
was at times excruciatingly difficult. Most of the time his view
of the future of the NEC and mine were the same, but we at times
had to agree to disagree and go birding together to remind us
of what was really important. But I loved the "Big Guy"
unconditionally and the NEC to this day remains one of the most
influential institutions ever created by a bunch of hippies in
At this point in writing this the tears are streaming
down my face and I want desperately to renew my commitment to
the work that Tim and all of us cared so deeply about.
I want to see the NEC carry on, I want to see that
new NEC building built.
But most of all I want to see the dams on the Klamath
River torn down. The real tribute that we owe Tim and future
generations is to see the Klamath run free. I want to be there
when we unveil the sign that dedicates the remains of the Iron
Gate Dam on the banks of the Klamath the river to the memory
of Tim Mckay.
— Scott Sway,
It was with great sadness that we read of the passing
of Tim McKay. He was, in many ways, one of the "old guard"
environmental activists going back to the days before Redwood
National Park was created. He never wavered in his beliefs, and
would argue passionately for those beliefs at every opportunity.
As one of his acquaintances said to us this morning, "Tim
was a man who would stand up in front of a group of people who
hated everything he believed in, and he'd ague his point of view.
Even if he didn't convince them, he would earn their respect".
His contributions to the environment and to our community will
be greatly missed.
— John Graves
I heard the sad news of Tim McKay's' passing earlier
today. As you can imagine, I was stunned. Ever since the days
when we worked to save the Siskiyou's (still not saved, but getting
closer. The wilderness of the Siskiyou, if connected and properly
managed, would be a park as large as Yellowstone) I have been
proud to call Tim friend and comrade.
Tim's contribution cannot be underestimated. Without
him there would be no Siskiyou Wilderness, and his constant push
helped bring about the NRA act in the Smith River, even though
that was never his choice (Curse Don Clausen to Hell!). He believed
that change was possible when others such as myself failed to
believe, and eventually his optimism won me over. Remember, he
was the original plaintiff in "Spotted Owl vs. United States
of America". It's HARD to beat the government - you really
have to believe that you have right on your side.
Tim is the person who gets credit for that small
piece of optimism I have - the piece of me that keeps me fighting
even when a positive outcome seems impossible. A Siskiyou Wilderness
seemed impossible, let alone stopping the GO road with five miles
to completion. I leave you with this saying of Tim's' that I
try to always remember, words I've tried to live by, to whit;
"You're a winner until you lose."
It sums up his devil-take-the-hindmost, gamble
the farm, and don't leave the table until you've won all you
can, attitude toward life. He went out a winner.
Besides which, he named the Blue Puma sleeping
bag! That's another story from another life.
— Gordon Bonser
Losing a Legendary Figure
The volunteers, board and staff of EPIC are greatly
saddened to learn of the death of Tim McKay, the Executive Director
of the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC). It is a great blow
to the community of Northwest California to lose this amazing
person who was so important in the ongoing history of environmental
defense here in the Klamath-Siskiyou region.
Tim was a major advocate for a healthy environment
on the North Coast since the inception of the modern environmental
movement in the 1970s. His longevity on the front lines is astounding
in work that can be so mentally and spiritually taxing as holding
off ecological disaster from industrial decimation. In addition
to the monthly ECONEWS paper and the weekly ECONEWS Report radio
show he produced, Tim and the NEC helped lead the campaign to
expand Redwood National Park by 48,000 acres, battled the fish
killing Klamath River dams, and stood up for the plants and critters
of our region- both great and small- that keep the entire miraculous
community of life humming along. Tim inspired, motivated and
empowered countless activists, including myself, to defend our
home on the planet.
Tim will be greatly missed as a keystone member
of the community. I am personally going to miss his calm, determined
presence at the many public meetings he attended, his mellow
but impassioned voice on the radio and his unwavering guardianship
of the natural world. We are all diminished by his loss.
— Larry Evans
EPIC — The Environmental Protection Information Center