2014 Desert Conference: Sept 19-20

August 12, 2014

Deschutes Wychus confluence Come join desert wilderness advocates for the 2014 Desert Conference to be held in Bend on Sept. 19-20!

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the Oregon Chapter and High Desert Committee are again pleased to help sponsor this conference as a way to educate and excite people about the possibilities for wilderness in Oregon’s renowned and beautiful High Desert.

This event is being organized by the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and will include a mixture of informative break out sessions on a variety of topics on Friday as well as several preeminent keynote speakers. The speakers include Roderick Nash, author of the classic, Wilderness and the American Mind. Panels topics include Sage Grouse, Riparian Ecology, Desert History, Art in the Desert and more.

Painted Canyon OwyheeOn Saturday there will be an opportunity for day outings and a 50th anniversary celebration of wilderness block party in the evening.

Thursday evening will also offer a separate (but related) event, the showing of the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

Registration for the conference is $60 and more information (schedule and speakers) can be found at: http://onda.org/2014desertconference

This is an incredible opportunity to learn about and get involved in desert wildlands protection and to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. We hope you will be able to join us in Bend!


North Coast State Forest Happenings

August 7, 2014

Late summer is a magical time in the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests. Refreshing swimming holes provide families fun relief from summer heat; spring chinook and summer steelhead return up the north coast rivers and streams, offering anglers young & old the opportunity for iconic pursuit; and hikers rejoice on trails to University Falls, up Kings Mountain, and along the Wilson River. Mountain bikers are found throughout the forest. Horeseback riding is prevalent near Reehers camp. Hunters gear up for the Fall deer season.

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Just one reason to protect the Tillamook & Clatsop

 

These yearly rituals are all the products of forests that are hanging in the balance. The Board of Forestry is in the process of writing a new Forest Management Plan. In early September, the Board will receive science reviews indicating the best way forward. We are hopeful that the best available science will guide the Board towards a plan that protects fish & wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and abundant recreation opportunities. Along with good science, it will be crucial that the public weighs-in over the next few months, explaining to the Board what we value on these lands. Sign up for the North Coast State Forest Coalition’s email list to receive important action alerts!

In the meantime, here are some good ways to be involved in the future of these forests:

  • The Salmonberry Corridor Coalition is group of public and private partners (including Oregon Parks and the Oregon Department of Forestry) that is working to develop a new trail through the Tillamook State Forest along the old Salmonberry Railroad. We and our state forest protection partners (Northwest Steelheaders Association, Northwest Guides & Anglers Association, Trout Unlimited, and the Wild Salmon Center) think it’s a terrific vision with great promise. It would be a tremendous boost to the region and would improve recreation opportunities on Oregon‘s north coast. But it has to be done in a way that does not harm the Salmonberry River and its iconic steelhead run. Click here to share your comments in support of a primitive trail through the Salmonberry canyon!
  • Trygve Steen is a professor of Forest Ecology, Environmental Sustainability, and Photography at Portland State University. Trygve has joined several North Coast State Forest Coalition outings, generously contributing his contagious energy and knowledge of our forest landscapes. On Thursday September 18th, Trygve will be sharing his thoughts on Forest Ecology and Photography with us at the Columbia Group’s monthly program night. This evening should prove to be a fascinating and beautiful introduction to forest ecology and the numerous ways that forest management impacts us. Click here for more details!

 

Trygve Steen considering an old growth Douglas Fir in the Clatsop Forest

Trygve Steen considering an old growth Douglas Fir in the Clatsop Forest


Volunteers Give Oregon Chapter Garden a Facelift

July 17, 2014

If you’ve been by the Oregon Chapter lately, you haven’t been able to miss the exciting things happening right outside our doors!

The garden space next to the club that used to be full of garbage and invasive plants has been taken over by our volunteers. Several volunteers came out in early may to turn an underutilized piece of ground into a productive veggie garden and native plant haven.

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Volunteers work on Sierra Club Garden

The garden space next to the club that used to be full of garbage and invasive plants has been taken over by our volunteers. Several volunteers came out in early may to turn an underutilized piece of ground into a productive veggie garden and native plant haven.

Those who came out managed to completely remove all the trash and old landscaping in one afternoon. What they removed was given over to Metro to be composted or recycled and in exchange Metro donated to the club enough Recology compost to really give the space a lift.

Now that the compost has been spread and seeds have been planted our garden is certainly growing! We have lettuces, squash, beets and beans lining our walk and welcoming visitors.

The hope of the group working on the garden is that the space will function as a “community garden” where active members of the club can participate in growing food and native plants. Over time we hope that the space sustains itself with the exception of seasonal planting and of course harvest.

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Squash growing right outside our door!

Very soon, the gardeners will be getting together to make plans for a fall planting of native plants that will attract birds and provide a beautiful landscape in the garden space as well as additional edibles.

Our volunteers have taken what once was overgrown and littered and turned it into something educational and sustainable.

If you would like to help with this project or any of our other volunteer projects, we’d love you help! Simply fill out the form below and let us know what you’d like to do, we need everything from help to donations of plants and materials.

 

 


Welcoming Michael Brune and his family to Oregon

July 16, 2014
Mike Brune (16)

Mike Brune and family.

The week of July 7 was an exciting one for the Oregon Chapter, as we welcomed national Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune to Oregon for several days. Mike and his family are currently in the midst of a Northwest roadtrip in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. After departing their home in the Bay Area and stopping over for a night in the redwoods of northern California, their first stop in Oregon was at Odell Lake, just down the road from Waldo Lake.

We had a nice gathering of Sierra Club volunteers and staff with Mike and his family (wife Mary, daughters Olivia and Genevieve, and son Sebastian) on Monday evening, enjoying a cookout at a cabin near Crescent Lake. Then on Tuesday morning, the real fun began!

Mike Brune (4)

Mike looks over Waldo plans.

We began the morning with a press conference and briefing on the scenic shore of Waldo Lake about the Sierra Club’s Keep Waldo Wild campaign. In addition to Brune and his family and Sierra Club staff and volunteers, we also had a good assemblage of Congressional and Forest Service staffers present. They heard about our exciting plan to protect more than 76,000 acres of forest and wild areas around Waldo, developed in concert with other non-motorized user groups like the Central Oregon Trail Alliance mountain biking organization. We were pleased to be joined by COTA Chairman, Woody Starr, and by Bruce and Brian Johnson, the great-grandsons of Judge John Waldo, for whom the lake is named.

After the briefing, we took the Brunes for a fun, 3.5-mile hike around Charlton Lake. Despite the heat and the mosquitoes, Mike’s 9 and 5-year-old children did an amazing job on the hike. Then we did a great 5-mile roundtrip mountain biking trek over to Bobby Lake. Mike and his 5-year-old son Sebastian had to turn back about midway through the mountain bike ride, but his 9-year-old daughter Olivia did the entire ride and wanted even more when we were finished!

Click here to read Mike’s Huffington Post blog about his visit to Waldo Lake!

Then, on Wednesday, July 9, with the assistance of several members of our Many Rivers Group from Eugene and outdoor writer William Sullivan, we treated Mike and his family to an excellent hike up Mt. June, just outside of Dexter, Oregon. This hike is found in the Hardesty Wildlands area about 25 miles east of Eugene/Springfield, which our Many Rivers Group has been working to protect.

Mike and Mike Show (4)

Mike Brune and Mike McCloskey.

Thursday was another busy day for the Brunes, who had to depart their cabin at Odell Lake early in order for Mike to get to a morning Editorial Board meeting with the Eugene Register-Guard. Then they drove up to Portland for an exciting evening program with a packed room at the Chapter office with former national Sierra Club Executive Director Mike McCloskey, who discussed his great new book, Conserving Oregon’s Environment.

Mike Brune also spoke movingly about his road trip and about his desire to preserve wilderness and protect the planet for his (and all of our) kids to enjoy. And then it was off to Seattle for the Brunes, as they continued on to the next leg of their road trip.

It was a great few days with Mike, Mary, Olivia, Sebastian, and Genevieve, and I was honored to be one of the tour guides showing them some of the spectacular areas of our state. Obviously, 4 days is not nearly enough to really let them see the wonders Oregon has to offer, so we hope they will be back soon. We’ve got a few hundred other places we’d like to take them to!


Oregon Sierra Club Volunteers Lobby for Wilderness

July 7, 2014

Oregon Chapter Sierra Club members, Jill Workman and Chris Smith recently returned from Washington D.C. where they were lobbying Oregon’s delegates on behalf of the Club in support of a good, clean package of lands bills during the 113th Congress. Despite an extraordinarily challenging partisan environment in the Capitol, Great Outdoors America Week served as a positive context for a wide variety of constituents to impress upon their representatives the importance for wildlands across our country. Along with advocating for the creation and expansion of wilderness areas in Oregon and beyond, we also pushed for the Healthy Kids Outdoor Act, a bill that would help improve access and opportunities for kids to get into green spaces. This is part of a broader effort to kick nature-deficit disorder to the curb as kids are spending less and less time outside.

Getting kids outside is hugely important to public health.

Getting kids outside is hugely important to public health.

We were met with plenty of pessimism and frustration from our Oregon delegates, many of whom would like to see good lands bills go through this congress. Despite this frustration, there were glimmers of optimism that the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act and the Oregon Caves Revitalization Act might see some progress. We were also heartened to hear that some of our delegates shared the Club’s concern about bad lands bills such as the Sealaska and Resolution Copper, which would greatly damage America’s public landscape.

In the end, this work was well worth it in spite of the difficult politics reigning on Capitol Hill. The powerful message that individual citizens can send to their local DC delegates by paying them a visit is crucial as we fight for our environment and, though national-level politics is rife with deadlock and partisanship, there are still consistent environmental champions like Senator Jeff Merkley, who was kind enough to pose for a picture.

Senator Jeff Merkley with Oregon Chapter Sierra Club members, Jill Workman and Chris Smith

Senator Jeff Merkley with Oregon Chapter Sierra Club members, Jill Workman and Chris Smith


Governor Kitzhaber Praises State Forest Conservation Areas

June 5, 2014

 

District Forester Mike Cafferata explaining the Conservation Area's purpose to Governor Kitzhaber

District Forester Mike Cafferata explaining the Conservation Area’s purpose to Governor Kitzhaber

On June 2nd, Governor Kitzhaber toured the Gales Creek area in the Tillamook State Forest. The Creek, which is surrounded by buffers newly classified as High Value Conservation Areas, is also home to several recent stream restoration projects. Oregon Department of Forestry staff and partner groups lauded the stream enhancement work, which includes extensive log placement to improve fish passage and habitat, but the star of the tour was the Conservation Area:

Conservation areas are a critical component of healthy, well-managed public forests,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “They support our great coastal salmon runs and produce diverse wildlife and plant habitat. They provide clean water, carbon storage, and recreation values that are hard to replace elsewhere. I’m inspired and encouraged to see the Department, the Board of Forestry, and stakeholders working hard to sustainably manage and conserve these important areas for Oregonians.

 There are now over 140,000 acres of High Value Conservation Areas designated across Oregon’s 800,000 acres of State Forest land. Over 100,000 acres are in the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests, where forest health is crucial to providing habitat for coho salmon, marbled murrelets, steelhead, northern spotted owls, chinook salmon, red tree voles, and numerous other species. These lands also provide clean drinking water for over 400,000 Oregonians along with diverse recreation opportunities to coastal and Portland metro residents alike.

The Governor emphasized that the best available science would be used to inform the management of these lands and that carbon sequestration is an important role for these forests going forward. The ongoing balanced management of these heavily-logged lands remains a challenge, but the Governor expressed optimism: “We are using the best available science and strong community partnerships to grow healthy forests and guarantee their benefits reach our children and beyond.”

Still, despite the Governor’s leadership in creating these unprecedented Conservation Areas, the future of these lands is in doubt. Sawmill owners and some county commissioners have proposed that the lands be harvested as though they were private industrial timber lands. As the Board of Forestry writes a new plan to manage these forests, we will work hard to ensure that the best available science and public interest are at the forefront of the conversation.

Governor Kitzhaber and members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition

Governor Kitzhaber and members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition

To read the full press release, click here.


Habitat Conservation Plans – A Tool for State Forests

April 23, 2014

Over the next year, the Department of Forestry will be reviewing and possibly re-writing the administrative rules that dictate management of Oregon’s state forests, defining the future of some of our state’s most vital natural spaces. Pressures to increase logging on the Tillamook and Clatsop forests is intense. Populations of marbled murrelets, spotted owls, Coho salmon, red tree voles, and other species already struggle to thrive within those borders without the threat of increased timber sales and management that prioritizes short-term profits over long-term forest health. Those most vulnerable species are only signposts for the vibrancy of the entire temperate eco-systems in these emblematic forests.

Coho Salmon are listed under the Endangered Species Act

Coho Salmon are listed under the Endangered Species Act

Every citizen of Oregon has a strong interest in the management of our entrusted state forest land, and a duty to advocate for prudent land use! In the past, the relationship between conservationists and timber companies and their proponents has been defined by embittered conflict and hostility – and often lawsuits. While seeking injunctions can be a strategic method for halting dangerous and illegal practices, there are other methods for pursuing conflict resolution and creating viable strategies for species preservation.

The Endangered Species Act contains a provision for Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) – a series of permits and mitigation planning that is usually pursued by non-federal entities that want to build on or log land where endangered species reside. Permits allow the construction or other activity, and the Habitat Conservation Plan explains how the party will help the population grow in other ways. Without vigilant oversight from citizens and non-profits, HCP’s can become unwieldy and risky management plans that harm endangered species.  However, they can also be a powerful tool.  The State of Oregon could seek an HCP on state forest land to limit the potential for messy and expensive lawsuits, create important wildlife habitat, and provide certainty around timber revenue.

Read more here to learn more about the history of Habitat Conservation Plans and what they might mean for Oregon’s state forests.


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