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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.
Thousands of acres of National Wildlife Refuge wetlands in the Klamath Basin will go without water this year. All signs are pointing to an unprecedented disaster.
by Wendell Wood
Sadly, 2013 will see a repeat of one of the most devastating symptoms of the Klamath Basin's numerous water problems: thousands of acres of crucial National Wildlife Refuge wetlands in the Klamath will be without water.
Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs reflects the norm in the Klamath Basin, where too much water has been promised to too many interests. Even in years of abundant water flow, this annual refuge de-watering represents the continuation of a policy of favoring agribusiness interests while avoiding cost-effective, long-term solutions which would bring water demand in the basin into balance with actual supplies.
The continued sacrifice of our nation's wildlife refuges in the Klamath doesn't come without serious consequences. Refuge wetlands support 80 percent of the migratory waterfowl of the Pacific Flyway, hosting birds traveling from as far away as the Arctic and Argentina.
On just how far we haven't come.
By Rob Klavins
The corridors of Oregon's capital building are filled with history.
Tom McCall's portrait is a Technicolor reminder of the beach bill – the landmark law which made our beaches open to all. There's an exhibit of amazing rocks and minerals found in Oregon. The offices of elected officials are themselves display cases of Oregon treasures past and present.
In a corridor leading to Senate offices are a number of educational displays highlighting the history of the Beaver State. The last in line is a real attention grabber.
The display features the preserved head and skin of a cougar. The text behind the cougar tells the creation story of Oregon's government. The most prominent words are the title "Wolf Meetings, Genesis of Government" and a quote:
"It is admitted by all, that bears, wolves, panthers, etc., are destructive to useful animals owned by the settlers of this colony…"
Minister of the Public Meeting, March 1843, French Prairie.
The text goes on to describe how – in a surprisingly narrow decision - 52 white men voted to form a government, organize a militia, and set the course for what would become the state of Oregon.
It's a course that has led Oregon to become known around the world as one of America's greenest, most progressive states. Sadly, my next stop was a disturbing reminder of how – at least when it comes to wildlife - some things haven't changed.
Former Oregon Wild Executive Director Andy Kerr reflects on the passing of journalist Kathie Durbin.
By Andy Kerr
In the mid-1980s the organization now known as Oregon Wild was only a very small group, but despite our size, we resolved to end the logging of old-growth forests in Oregon. At the time, two square miles per week of Oregon's ancient forests were being clearcut.
We were desperate to make news in this pre-internet era, when daily newspapers were the sole papers of community record, and the majority of citizens actually read them.
Klamath-area National Wildlife Refuges are being forced to drain massive amounts of water, while nothing is being asked of industrial irrigators.
By Wendell Wood
It has come to our attention Lower Klamath and Tule Lake NWRs are being required to deliver 5,600 acre feet of water from the refuge to the Klamath River. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) maintains this is being done so the agency won't have to otherwise release additional water from Upper Klamath Lake.
While the BOR claims it needs to do so to maintain Upper Klamath lake levels for endangered species purposes, it is also doing so for the principal purpose of "recharging" the lake to its maximum elevation prior to the onset of the 2013 irrigation season.
Some points to keep in mind when discussing or reporting on O&C lands in the wake of Gov. Kitzhaber's timber proposal to Oregon's congressional delegation.
Governor John Kitzhaber sent a letter to the Oregon congressional delegation on February 6th summarizing the results of his O&C forest panel, with his recommendations for moving forward.
Set forth below are several concerns, perspectives, and questions Oregon Wild has related to the governor's proposal, which we hope Oregon Wild members, conservationists, bloggers and journalists should keep in mind.
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.
Thanking an Oregon leader for standing up for wildlife.
Chances are when you were a kid someone told you “don’t forget to say your ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s”. As conservationists facing a litany of threats to our natural heritage, we can’t afford to forget to say please. However, sometimes in our haste we do forget to say thank you.
Since he took office in 1987, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio has done some great things for the environment. However, over the last several months we’ve been saying “please” a lot more than “thank you” as we’ve been at odds over his newest logging scheme.
We are still happy to give him credit when he deserves it. That’s why we were pleased for the opportunity to send the Congressman a letter thanking him for his recent stand for wildlife.
Candidates might think they're speaking to the base, but be careful when you dis public lands in the West.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney might be forgiven for not quite grasping the role that public lands play in Western life and politics. That is, if not for the fact that he headed the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002 and should know better.
Seems he actually learned the wrong lesson from his time spent west of the 100th meridian.
In an interview with a Nevada newspaper, Romney tackled the subject of western public lands. See his quote after the jump.
An interview with Tom Turner
Last month the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals made a decision that flew under the radar of what Sarah Palin calls the "lamestream media". This might be a rare moment where Sarah and I see eye to eye.
The decision was one of the most historic conservation victories so far this century. By throwing out the last legal challenge brought by the Bush administration and its allies in the timber and mining industries, the ruling ended a decade of uncertainty over roadless protections.
In a decision celebrated by conservationists and businesses alike, it was affirmed that the 2001 Roadless Rule is, and always has been legal. Of course, the story doesn't end there. Legislation has been introduced by House Republicans to undo the rule, and a bipartisan group of over 130 leaders have cosponsored legislation to make it permanent.
Whatever lies ahead, the ruling provides a good opportunity to look back and reflect on one of the most popular conservation measures in history.
Perhaps no one knows more about the Roadless Rule than Earthjustice's Tom Turner. In 2009, Turner literally wrote the book on the Rule entitled "Roadless Rules: The Struggle for the Last Wild Forests".
Q: Why is the roadless rule so important?
When rhetoric meets the road consistency goes out the window.
As an environmentalist, I've heard it a dozen times. In fact, I saw the accusation in a Facebook post on the Oregon Wild page earlier today. The claim has been leveled so many times, I just may start believing it.
So, here's my admission. I'm a greedy environmental wacko, rolling in hundred dollar bills that I deviously extracted from the government.
Well, at least that's what mining, logging, and other development special interests would have you believe. We only do the work that we do because we can milk taxpayer dollars doing it.
If that sounds a little dubious, read on.