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


Call for Photos: Announcing the HDC 50th Anniversary Photo Contest

June 11, 2014

Oregon Chapter Sierra Club High Desert Committee

Call for Photos

Calling all photographers! Your help is needed. You’re invited to submit your best shots of Oregon’s wilderness areas for a chance to be featured in the Oregon Sierra Club High Desert Committee’s Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary Photography Exhibit this fall. Both professional and amateur photo submissions are encouraged.

High Desert_2What is the Sierra Club High Desert Committee’s Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary Photography Exhibit?

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this year, the Sierra Club High Desert Committee will be putting on a photography exhibit highlighting the wilderness places that are yet to be protected in our very own state of Oregon. By exhibiting these photographs, we hope to increase the awareness and inspiration to protect these areas.

Submission Deadline: Friday, August 1st, 2014 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time 

Submission Guidelines:

  • Both professional and amateur photography submissions are encouraged
  • Submit up to five (5) images per photographer allowed
  • Selected photographs will be featured in the Sierra Club High Desert Committee’s Wilderness Act
    50th Anniversary Photography Exhibit Event in the fall 2014.
  • Photographers will need to complete a Photographer Permission as part of the submission.
    Download the form here:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5xbJhEjqTTwR1ktTTZudndrV3c/edit?usp=sharing
  • Elements or objects not in original scene should be added.
  • Electronic submissions only, please. E-mail images to hndahlin@mac.com with subject line: HDC 
    WildAct 50th Photo Exhibit Submission 
  • Electronic photograph submission requirements:
    • Photograph must be submitted in JPG format
    • 5 MB at least but no bigger than 10 MB
    • Each photograph must include:
      • Image description
      • Location
      • Photographer name
  • *** 300 dpi format might be requested for selected images. Photographers will be contacted.
  • If submission requirements are not followed, the image submitted may not be considered.
  • Photographs must be taken within areas listed.
  • Any wilderness scene whether wildlife, plants or scenic landscape are eligible.
  • Any watermark must be removed.

Photograph Locations:

Images from Oregon’s wilderness areas that are yet to be protected, with an emphasis on locations listed below will be selected for the exhibit. Photos from high priority areas and locations are preferred but all photos from Oregon’s wilderness areas yet to be protected will be considered.

Current campaigns:

Terms and Conditions (in addition to the Photograph Permission): 

  • Photographs will be accepted only from the original photographer who must be the sole author and owner of the copyright for photos submitted.
  • Selected photographs will be printed only once for the purpose of the exhibit. Use of the printed photographs may be used for future exhibits and fund-raising events by the Sierra Club.

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.


Report from Sutton Mountain

May 8, 2014

 

DSC_0112The High Desert Committee led a trip to the Sutton Mountain wilderness study area at the end of April. Located near Mitchell, Oregon and adjacent to the Painted Hills National Monument, Sutton Mountain provides a birds-eye view of the colorful striations of the Painted Hills, created by wind, time and geologic activity.

After a hike through Black Canyon to gain the upper plateau, the group was treated to blooming hedgehog cacti along the rim. Lunch was spent enjoying the stunning vistas and basking in the sun, then Borden Beck led the climb down along what was surely a mountain goat trail.

Sierra Club outings allow you to explore and enjoy areas of Oregon that you may or may not be familiar with. Experienced volunteer leaders share their favorite areas of Oregon and talk about efforts to protect these areas so that future generations can enjoy these wild areas as we see them now.

Click here to discover a Sierra Club outing in your area.

Click here to read more about the Oregon Chapter’s High Desert Committee and how you can get involved.


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.


Happy Earth Day to Seneca Jones!

April 22, 2014

2457514213_a8e4935293_bIn the ongoing saga of the State Land Board’s decision to sell off portions of the Elliott State Forest to meet its mandates under the Common School Fund, Seneca Jones Timber Company received an early Earth Day present earlier this week. As reported in the Oregonian, Seneca Jones submitted the winning bid on the 788-acre East Hakki Ridge tract, getting the parcel for pennies on the dollar: $1.9 million for timber valued by the State of Oregon at more than $5.5 million.

 

 

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Luckily, our coalition partners at Cascadia Wildlands, Portland Audubon, and the Center for Biological Diversity have stepped in to file suit to prevent what is likely an illegal sale of this tract. As the Court decides on the request for a preliminary injunction to stop the sale, the State Department of Justice has agreed to hold off on closing the sale until after May 1.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club and our coalition partners continue to urge the State Land Board — made up of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown, and Treasurer Ted Wheeler — and other state leaders in Salem to pursue a solution for the Elliott that protects the unique forest and keeps it in public ownership, while also satisfying the school fund mandate required by these lands. The bright side of the low monetary value for the three parcels that were sold is that it helps us to make the case that it’s even more affordable than we might have thought for the State to buy out the Elliott from its Common School Fund burdens and transfer the land to Oregon State Parks, for instance.

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Clearly, the drama at the Elliott State Forest is about to get a lot more interesting, so stay tuned!


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