Still, political and economic leaders in the region believe the industry has been called to compromise repeatedly in this war, and has done so, even if complaining all the way. At the same time, these same leaders say environmentalists may be too smug in refusing compromise now that they feel the breezes blowing at their backs.
Perhaps that's why so much hullabaloo befalls otherwise minor events, such as next month's scheduled Breitenbush concert, an environmentalist music festival among old-growth national forest lands in central Oregon.
It seems a nesting pair of endangered owls was found near the concert site, and the U.S. Forest Service said the festival would not be allowed during the critical breeding period of summer.
The environmentalists agreed to move the concert about a mile away to avoid disturbing the owls, but they howled that the Forest Service action was unfair.
They noted that logging was allowed nearby in June (although with hand saws only) and that further cuts are planned in the area this autumn and next year. Why single out their annual event?
"It shows their real concern has never been the owl," responds Valerie Johnson of the pro-logging Oregon Lands Coalition. "Their real goal is to set aside old-growth forests as playgrounds for themselves and their elite friends."
Because virtually everyone in the country has a stake in the national forests, much of the day-to-day controversy involves timber management on public lands. But private ownership of Northwest trees is spread wide, and all varieties of companies have found themselves drawn into the war.
Times Mirror Co., for instance, owns about 900 acres, down from 265,000 acres a few years ago. Of that, a small parcel, about 57 acres is prime old-growth forest in an area known to contain endangered owls. Environmentalists had strongly protested a company plan that optioned logging rights to the tract.
That option expired, and with environmentalists watching every move, Times Mirror now says the trees will not be felled.
"We don't know what we're going to do with it. But we're not going to cut it and we're not going to sell it to someone who is going to cut it," says Charles R. Redmond, executive vice president. Trading the land or perhaps even donating it for preservation are being considered.
So come finish the battle zone tour and journey into a national forest with a ranger.
Up in the high country of the Mt. Hood National Forest, just east of Portland, you can see across five mountain ridges. From up here, the patchwork of clear-cuts resembles the fairways and greens of some giant, far-off golf course spread over the mountains.
What does the vista mean to acting District Ranger Rob MacWhorter, a 10-year veteran forester?
"Honestly?" MacWhorter begins. Then he pauses. "Well, what this tells me is that we've over cut."
It is a tribute to the Forest Service that dissent like this is permitted in the ranks. Over the years, the Forest Service has described itself as managing the timberlands for "multiple use," but the bureaucratic imperative has always been "to get the cut out," because the agency earns its budget selling trees. So, to talk about reducing the cut is to talk about reducing the budget. And in federal bureaucracies, that is a painful position.
But more and more, that's the attitude of rank-and-file rangers of the Forest Service.
Jerry G. Allen is a 35-year veteran and serves as the Forest Service's Northwest environmental affairs director. It's not a matter of whether to reduce the timber harvest, but how much and how fast, Allen explains.
Each forest jurisdiction in the Northwest either has or is working on completing a long-term management plan. In total, they indicate something like a one-third drop in harvesting. And that is before extra set-asides to preserve spotted owl habitat.
"For a long time the decisions were easy. There was plenty of forest to go around," says Allen. "Now the Forest Service is beginning to make the tough decisions: Who isn't going to get what they want."
To its mounting frustration, however, the Forest Service is being shoved onto the sidelines in making these tough calls. Politicians and judges increasingly are assuming that role.
Most recently, the White House indicated that it wants to see if it can soften the job loss associated with rapid timber harvest reductions proposed by government scientists to protect the owl.
This is a tricky political maneuver, and Democratic politicians such as Washington Gov. Booth Gardner warn President Bush not to ignore the judgments of experts "or this thing is going to blow up on you."
A high-level Administration task force is supposed to propose a plan by Sept. 1 to save both the owl and jobs.
Congress is expected to plunge headlong into the fray, with the logging industry seeking a one- or two-year reprieve from new restrictions and environmentalists vowing to give not a single grove without a struggle.
Meanwhile, both the timbermen and the environmentalists argue the future of the great forests and the great forestry industry in an ever-growing barrage of lawsuits. In this two-state region so far in 1990, the Forest Service reports receiving an average of one administrative appeal each day and being sued about once each week.
"That's the tragedy for us," says Goldschmidt. "The one thing the world wants and which we do so well, we haven't decided whether we want to pursue anymore."
Times researchers Ann Rovin in Denver and Doug Conner in Los Angeles contributed to this story.