Local photographer Dan Elster’s new show, The Sentinel of the Forest, opens at The Photographer’s Gallery at The Ashland Art Center on Friday, September 6 for the First Friday Art Walk and continues through the month of September.Northern Spotted Owls are perhaps the Pacific Northwest’s best known wildlife species. In the early 1990’s they were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Logging operations were suddenly curtailed and many even shut down. To the logging communities, the owl became a symbol for government overreach and economic hardship. To the environmentalist, spotted owls represented man’s irresponsible stewardship of the environment. Northern Spotted Owl populations continue to decline and the long term survival of the species is questionable.In July of 2019, I accompanied a wildlife biologist in southern Oregon. I was rewarded with a couple of the most memorable encounters to date with Strix occidentalis caurina. I hope these images will help you see Northern Spotted Owls for what they are, (fascinating, beautiful, majestic creatures), not a symbol of a bitter political argument that has gone on for decades.