The God Squad and the Case of the Northern Spotted Owl
A rare, behind-the-scenes look at the way politics shape environmental policy.
Produced by Emily Hart
Directed and photographed by Emily Hart
Edited by Emily Hart, Lucy Massie Phenix and Elizabeth Finlayson
Music by Bobby Lurie
Narrated by Kathy Witkowsky
The God Squad investigates the controversial Endangered Species Committee proceedings over the Northern Spotted Owl and 44 proposed federal timber sales in southwest Oregon.
"A stimulating work of art and an invaluable classroom tool." Josh Eagle, Lecturer on Law, Stanford Law School
In May 1992 -- for the first time in history -- the cabinet-level committee selected economic interests over the survival of a species. While the proceedings ostensibly focused on the owl and a limited number of timber sales, the controversy was a microcosm of a much larger debate concerning the fate of the Pacific Northwest's old growth forests and the Endangered Species Act.
The story-behind-the-story -- as told in surprisingly candid interviews with President Bush's cabinet members, their staff, witnesses, lawyers and people in rural communities in Oregon -- is a fascinating cautionary tale for generations to come.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2001
Copyright Date: 2001
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-322-6
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-896-0
"The film gives invaluable insight into the ethical and political dilemmas facing those who make decisions regarding endangered species protection in our country."
Senator James M. Jeffords of Vermont, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
"This beautifully-made film captures the essence not only of the spotted owl controversy, but of natural resource conflicts everywhere. The balanced presentation - featuring insightful interviews with mill workers, scientists, economists, lawyers and policymakers - serves as an excellent starting point for discussion of the ecological, economic, social and political issues that will continue to challenge humankind as resources become scarcer and demand grows."
Josh Eagle, Lecturer on Law, Stanford Law School
"Very impressive -- stunning nature photography, a great political story, and some rare candor from the officials in those interviews."
David M. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
"An excellent documentary showing the issue from all sides and exposing the political influence on the committee...Highly recommended for activists and for high school and college classes."
Dan R. Kunkle, Wildlife Activist Magazine
"Classes across the curriculum will be enriched with use of this outstanding, fairly presented video."
School Library Journal
The God Squad web site
Awards and Festivals
Chris Award, Columbus International Film Festival
Second Place in Category, EarthVision Environmental Film Festival
Merit Award, International Wildlife Film Festival, Missoula
Denver International Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Cornell Environmental Film Festival
Siskiyou Environmental Film Festival
Port Townsend Film Festival
California Academy of Sciences
Capitol Hill Screening
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Forests and Rainforests