Clean Water or Clearcuts for Oregon?
This story originally ran on National Geographic’s WaterCurrents blog.
Big decisions are looming for management of 2.8 million acres of Oregon’s public forestlands – an area covering the size of more than eight Crater Lake National Parks. Because legislation concerning management of the so-called O&C lands could end up undermining some of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, Oregonians aren’t the only ones with a stake in the issue.
Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is proposing legislation that would increase clearcut logging closer to streams, on steep slopes and unstable soils, and would allow the use of toxic herbicides, which would compromise clean drinking water for 1.8 million Oregonians.
The proposal also threatens several thousand miles of habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead in iconic river systems like the North Umpqua, Illinois, Rogue, McKenzie, and Nestucca.
Conservation groups including American Rivers, Pacific Rivers Council, and the Wild Salmon Center are urging Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to craft an O&C lands bill with stronger protections for clean water and salmon.
This short video, Forests to Faucets: Clean Water or Clearcuts? provides a great overview of what’s at stake for Oregon’s clean water. I was happy to participate in the creation of the video (I’m the mom at the end) because clean drinking water is so fundamental to our well-being, and I want my kids to be able to swim, float, catch fish, and experience the wild beauty of places like the North Umpqua and the Rogue.