- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Wendell Wood, a longtime environmental advocate and co-founder of the conservation group Oregon Wild, has died. He was 65.

His wife, Kathy, said Wood collapsed Tuesday hiking in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park south of Crescent City, California, where they lived since his retirement, and his heart had stopped by the time he was brought to a hospital.

Fellow activist Andy Kerr said Wood was a tenacious champion of ancient forests, and instrumental in Endangered Species Act protection for the short-nosed sucker and the Lost River sucker, two fish at the center of water battles in the Klamath Basin, and the western snowy plover.

After turning down a job with his family’s furniture factory outside Los Angeles, Wood taught high school biology in Myrtle Creek, Oregon, for four years before moving to Eugene in 1981 to work for Oregon Natural Resources Council, which became Oregon Wild. It was three years before he could get paid, his wife said.

“He decided he had a higher calling as a warrior for nature,” Kerr said. “We were all wanting to save forests and wilderness. We needed an organization and kind of made one.”

Kerr recalled that at one point during the battles over the northern spotted owl, which ultimately cut logging by 90 percent on federal lands in Oregon, Washington and northern California in 1994, Wood informed him that they had just filed administrative appeals to stop 228 timber sales on national forests.

“I later was called before a congressional committee to explain that, which I happily did,” Kerr said.

Oregon Wild executive director Sean Stevens called Wood “the conscience of the environmental community” who seemed to have eyes and ears everywhere.

Wood’s efforts on behalf of fish and wildlife in the Klamath Basin in the midst of intense water battles and attempts to develop a ski area earned him death threats, fellow activist Jim McCarthy recalled.

Kerr thought of Wood as “the forests’ best goalie,” tenacious in his defense of nature, but with a lovable personality.

“He was tenacious in not letting them score, not letting that timber sale get through, not letting that road project get through,” Kerr said.

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