Things heating up on the Oregon Coast, and it's not just climate change.
On September 24th, Oregon Wild joined our friend The Rockaway Beach Citizens For Watershed Protection up at Oswald West State Park to launch the Save Short Sands Campaign to raise awareness at the park about aerial spraying of clearcuts just outside park boundaries. This fall, multi-national clearcutting corporation Weyerheauser Co has been using helicopters to spray 80 different clearcuts in the region surrounding the park, and the Rockaway Beach Citizens group worked hard to let folks who live in the area know about the risks.
|Jason Gonzales chats with local concerned citizens|
One of the most populated places on the North Coast was Oregon's most popular surfing spot, Short Sands Beach. Unfortunately, visitors to Short Sands beach don't have any way to be notified that these sprays could be going on right above them, with pesticide drift potentially impacting the beach, and the streams that flow into it! So the brave Rockaway Beach Citizens group took swift action to spread the word! Reaching out to visitors on a sunny Saturday in September, we found full parking lots and a receptive crowd!
I could go on at length about how fantastic this event was, all the great work done by the Rockaway Beach Citizens, and the dangers of aerial spray, but fortunately for me, they released a press release about the whole thing! So, in their own words, I give you The Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection on why YOU should Take Action to Save Short Sands Beach:
The forestlands surrounding Oswald State Park and Short Sands Beach have been clearcut and if not already, will soon be aerially sprayed with a mix of toxic herbicides. These herbicides, sprayed from a helicopter, can easily drift into the State Park and wash into the streams that flow to Short Sands beach, one of the most heavily used beaches in the entire State.
The Pink lines outline clearcuts to be sprayed
Timber owner, Weyerhaeuser has recently clearcut 80 parcels of forestland in Oregon’s north coast, including several that border Oswald West State Park, Arch Cape and Neahkahnie Mountain.
Many watersheds are impacted by these cuts, including Arch Cape Creek, Short Sand Creek and Necarney Creek, which all flow directly into the beaches in and around Oswald West State Park.
Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection is leading a coalition of conservation groups calling on legislators in Salem to reform Oregon's outdated forest practices laws, the weakest on the West Coast. The coalition insists that until those laws are improved, timber owners should notify Oregon State Parks who should in return notify the public anytime they may be exposed to toxic herbicides while recreating in Oregon's beautiful parks.
Herbicide drift happens and the State doesn’t require notice to the public
According to Mike Manzulli, a local activist who often surfs at Oswald West State Park
“Weyerhaeuser aerially sprayed herbicides southeast of Arch Cape on August 19th. That was the hottest day of the summer. The beaches were absolutely packed. Children were playing in all the coastal streams that day. Were State Park users exposed to the herbicides? I don’t know, but herbicide drift happens and the State doesn’t require notice to the public. Most industrial timber owners sure aren’t going to go above what is legally required and draw extra attention to what they are doing, so no one knew it was happening.”
While legal in Oregon, forest practices of clear cutting and spraying of toxic herbicides after each cut without notifying the public has significant negative impacts on coastal communities; exposing local residents and visitors to known carcinogens, damaging local drinking water, and destroying habitat for fish and other wildlife.
Forest practices determine the quality and quantity of drinking water
“In coastal Oregon, it is very apparent that forest practices determine the quality and quantity of drinking water. What happens in our forests affects the health of all life downstream, from forest to sea: plants, fish, and other wildlife, as well as people. We all need clean air and water. Working together, we can safeguard these vital resources.” said Nancy Webster, of Rockaway Beach.