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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
The great-grandson of Waldo Lake's namesake expresses his concern over the Oregon Aviation Board's desire to allow seaplanes to land and take off from the pristine lake.
This letter was submitted by Bruce A. Johnson of Bend to Governor John Kitzhaber. Mr. Johnson is the great-grandson of Waldo Lake namesake and early Oregon conservationist Judge John B. Waldo.
Dear Governor Kitzhaber,
I am writing to urge you, as the elected Governor of the State of Oregon and member of the State Land Board, to lead an effort to establish a permanent and binding preservation of Waldo Lake in its pure and natural state.
This lake, of remarkable clarity with water considered among the purest in the word, and enjoyed by respectful recreationists for its solitude and natural qualities, is at risk of being gradually degraded due to the lack of a single, unified effort to protect it from detrimental activities.
How the long time head of the Oregon State Marine Board went down swinging.
The job of a bureaucrat is not an easy one.
You don't always get to do what you want. Sometimes you have to do things you don't believe in. It's your job to implement policies voted on by elected representatives or by the people themselves. And let's face it...sometimes laws ain't so good.
To add insult to injury, whenever someone wants to blame the government for something, it's usually the bureaucrats' fault. People accuse the bureaucracy of being too big, too replete with red tape, too interested in sustaining the job prospects of its own members. Even politicians (the folks who enact the laws that create the bureaucracy) attack it!
That being said, when you're a bureaucrat, you should have a pretty good idea what your job is. That's why the recent retirement and loud complaints of Oregon State Marine Board Director Paul Donheffner are so strange.
It's our chance to finally secure the peace (and quiet) at Waldo Lake by supporting the State Marine Board's rule to ban gas motors.
Have YOU been to Waldo Lake?
Have you camped on its shores and watched the stars in the pitch-black sky? Canoed, kayaked, sailed, or swam in its clear blue waters? Hiked through its peaceful forests? Endured mosquitoes just to get a glimpse of the wilderness peaks surrounding this Cascade gem? Then you've probably appreciated, like I have, the quiet lapping of the water on the shore and the uninterrupted solitude in your favorite spot. Waldo is a very special place.
For years, Oregon Wild has supported the Forest Service's plans to remove gas engines from plowing the pristine waters and breaking the silence of backcountry camping areas around the lake. A court challenge of their proposal led to a prolonged dispute over who gets to make that call - the feds or the state. No matter: now, the State Marine Board is proposing to affirm the Forest Service's lengthy analysis and decision to ban noisy and polluting gas motors. They just need to hear from YOU, a user and lover of Waldo's peaceful wonders, to help them take the last step towards preserving this amazing place.
For the opportunity of future generations to experience Waldo as a clean, quiet, peaceful lake - unique in all of Oregon - now is the time to speak out.
A look at the day's news from the "wild side": Waldo motors staying or going, PCT inspiration, Oregon's logging lore, and wild rivers.
Waldo Lake Ban Tries to Keep the Peace
With its clarity and tranquility, Waldo Lake is a magnificent example of the beautiful waters of Oregon. But the effort to protect it from pollution continues after a federal magistrate ruled in April that the Forest Service may not have the authority to create and enforce a ban on internal combustion motors on the lake.
The pristine lake has been the topic of this on-going debate for years now as many of the lake's visitors and supporters have worked to gain protection for its scenic beauty. A serene example of Oregon's natural beauty, Waldo Lake is mainly used as a place for camping, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. While the Forest Service may not have the authority, The Oregonian editorial board suggests that the state of Oregon should step up to keep the lake clean and pristine. With the previous movement halted because of the Forest Service's apparent lack of authority, the Oregonian proposes that the state step up to the plate and institute the gas motor ban once more.
Will one of the world’s most pristine lakes stay that way?
As I write, the esteemed Pete Frost, staff attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), is defending Waldo Lake in a Eugene Federal Court. And in a strange twist of fate, he’s sitting next to the Forest Service who we environmentalists so often find ourselves on the opposite end of a court room from.
What’s so special about Waldo Lake that Pete would spend his Earth Day (a time when he could be burning incense, meditating, and paying homage to Gaia) sitting in a stuffy court with the heir to a timber fortune across the aisle?
The shoreline trail around Waldo Lake is newly dedicated in honor of former Congressman and long-time wilderness hero, Jim Weaver.
The Oregon Wild Waldo Lake Family Camp Out may have been canceled last week, but a large gathering of another sort offered up a celebratory mood on the north shore of Waldo Lake today. A crowd of about 50 people - including Governor Kulongoski, Lane County Commissioners Pete Sorenson and Faye Stewart, and some long-time wildland advocates - gathered to dedicate the shoreline trail around Waldo Lake in honor of former 4th District Congressman Jim Weaver.
Earlier this year, Peter DeFazio (current 4th District Representative), championed legislation to rename the trail after his predecessor. For any relative new-comers (like me, with a mere 9-year stint in Oregon so far), Jim Weaver represented the 4th District from 1975 to 1987. He was a true champion for Oregon's wild places - repeatedly working to protect places like Waldo Lake, French Pete in the Three Sisters Wilderness, Cummins Creek, and Bull-of-the-Woods. In total, he finally helped gain Wilderness protections for 861,500 acres in the 1984 Oregon Wilderness Act. That must have felt good!
The morning's speeches by former Weaver staffer Joe Rutledge and by Governor Kulongoski emphasized the pristine beauty of Waldo and its surrounds (cue the sunshine to sparkle on the water and Diamond Peak's far-off snow) and how hard Weaver worked to protect Oregon's wild places for future generations. Among the high praise, the Governor credited Weaver for drawing the connection between the environment and the economy at a time when this was unheard of.
A very grateful Weaver, surrounded by his family, accepted the honor and cut the ribbon for the new trail sign. Still politically charged and passionate about the work he's been so long invested in, Jim Weaver seems certain to pass along his fighting spirit to his grandsons - for whom he worked so hard to protect Oregon's wild places.
I felt honored to be included in such a celebration of a true wilderness champion. And I felt honored to be a part of this great organization when Weaver referred to Oregon Wild staff (back when we were ONRC) as "Great young environmentalists. Dedicated people." Surrounded by so many who have worked so long and hard for places like Waldo Lake, I can't help but look forward to a time when I can look back on the successes I was a part of. Better get back to work...
This year marks the return of the Oregon Wild Waldo Lake Camp Out and celebration. Wendell Wood recalls how it all began.
Waldo Lake was one of the major center pieces of late 1970’s and early 1980’s Oregon Wild Wilderness protection efforts, with over 32,000 acres of surrounding forest lands finally protected during a time when Wilderness protection was much less widely accepted as it is today. That Oregon Wilderness bill, which became law in1984 included the protection of much of the Waldo Lake basin, representing the culmination of more than a full decade of hard work--and for which Oregon Wild (first called the Oregon Wilderness Coalition) had first organized to advocate for.
In 1982 OWC morphed into ONRC, with our main office then based in Eugene, Oregon. To call greater public attention for the need to protect this fabulous part of the Central Oregon Cascades, which included one of Oregon’s purest lakes, our first public Waldo Lake outing was inaugurated. In 1983 Oregon Wild held our first major camp out at the Shadow Bay group campground along Waldo lake’s south east shore. The main event was a “Walk Around Waldo” with pledges secured to finance our Wilderness lobbying efforts. Pledged volunteers hiked the full 22-mile loop trail around Waldo Lake in a single day. The Obsidians, a hiking club based in Eugene, also helped organized the first Waldo Lake event. Notably, their Conservation Chair, Ben Ross, was one of the events largest fund raisers who saw protection of Waldo as essential to protection of wildlands to the south of the already then partially designated Three Sisters Wilderness. Doug Norlen, organizer of the Waldo Wilderness Council, was also an active participant and leader of the early, annual Waldo events.
After Wilderness passage in 1984 the Waldo Lake event continued for several more years (then held in August), in annual celebration of this legislative accomplishment. Canoe excursions and other hikes nearby Waldo Lake were also conducted, such as to near by Gold Lake, “The Twins” and other locations along the Pacific Crest above Waldo Lake. Other Waldo weekend hikes included guided hikes to scenic viewpoints and other small lakes in the still unprotected Maiden Peak Roadless (proposed Wilderness) Area immediately east of the main road, and campgrounds along the east shore of Waldo Lake. After the Saturday evening meal, campfire and storytelling, late evening merrymakers were often entertained by local Eugene bands. On at least two occasions, late summer showers also accompanied a portion of the annual event—yet spirits weren’t dampened.
On through the middle and late1980’s we continued an annual outing and celebration at Waldo Lake, with the feature event still including an only slightly scaled down, approximately 15-mile hike around Waldo Lake’s wildest lands, but with a car shuttle provided for lake loop walkers once they reached the first trappings of civilization at the North Waldo Campground. A bit shorter than the full 22-mile loop, this annual hike still allowed hikers to experience Waldo’s wildest (and Wilderness protected) lands around a slightly shortened course encompassing the vast Mountain Hemlock forests around the south, east and north shores of the lake.
At the start of the hike, Tim Burr, a local bagpipe player, dressed in full regalia, would lead the Waldo hikers off the first mile, beginning at Shadow Bay Campground, as the full hike continued on clockwise around the lake. Other dignitaries attended the event including 4th District Congressman Jim Weaver, who had been our strongest Congressional advocate for the protection of Oregon Wilderness and Congressman Jim Jontz a champion for old-growth forests.
With Wilderness protection and old-growth legislation in the air, now is a great time to reignite this tradition. Join Oregon Wild September 19-21 for the Waldo Lake Camp Out.