George Santayana said that “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The Washington Department of Natural Resources took that lesson to heart in watching the History Channel’s “Ax Men.” While one of the stars insisted that “We’re normal guys that do extraordinary things,” DNR officials saw normal guys doing criminal things in taking logs out of the river.
The DNR hit S&S Aqua Logging (which features its connection on the History Channel on its website) with a search warrant after officials watched the program on television and saw its employees pulling floating logs from the Hoquiam River without a permit. These logs play an important role in the ecosystem and are not allowed to be taken by companies without a permit.
On the show, owner Jimmy Smith was not only helpful in filming the commission of the alleged violations but detailed how each of the logs are worth about $10,000.
If it is found that the company lacked a permit, it is remarkable that the History Channel would do so little research to confirm that it was not filming potential environmental crimes. While they are not likely to be liable, the popular show’s producers showed remarkably little interest in whether they were filming unlawful conduct. I am personally saddened that the History Channel rarely deals with history or historical subjects in its rush for ratings. However, it can at least pander to ratings with programs that are not reused as evidence of environmental violations in court.
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