A Reinvigorated Battle Cry for the Climate by Jessie Bond

August 13, 2015

For years, conversations around global warming have been volleying back and forth between dire predictions and outright denial. Most of the discussion has centered on scientific data and the economic impact of dealing with climate change. But the plea to protect our planet from the worst effects of rising temperatures has not fully resonated because most people have been overlooking an important human motivator: our own morality.

Until now. In May, Pope Francis took a stand and brought the climate change conversation to a new global level. In a 184-page encyclical, the Pope delivered a powerful critique on modern life. He addressed not only the fact that humans have contributed to the degradation of our planet but that we have a moral responsibility to our own and other species. He called for a sweeping “cultural revolution,” and among the many pages offered some guidance for every government, community, and individual. This call to action sparked a renewed energy to confront climate change and the enormous ecological, economic, and social imbalances that are root causes of the crisis.

Many cities across the globe are heeding this call and beginning to roll out plans to combat climate change at the local level. In fact, in the wake of the Pope’s statement, the Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the joint 2015 Climate Action Plan. This continues a 20-year legacy: Portland was the first city in the United States to create a plan for cutting carbon in 1993. Total carbon emissions in the U.S. have risen since the 1990s, but Portland’s emissions have actually declined by 14%, while its population has increased by almost a third.

The updated joint city-county plan is intended to strengthen the local effort to reduce carbon emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This is the level experts feel is needed worldwide to prevent devastating climate disruption from global warming.

Issues of equity and justice, which have largely been missing from the global climate conversation as Pope Francis points out, are finally getting serious consideration. The city-county plan, which was developed with the help of an equity working group, reflects this. Along with minimizing fossil fuel use, the plan focuses on ensuring that all city and county residents benefit from climate action.

At the Sierra Club we know that ensuring a livable climate for everyone is the biggest challenge of our age. The Oregon Chapter is working to educate the public, mobilize communities, and support the growing and thriving climate movement, and there are many ways you can get involved:

  • Find out what the joint city-county action plan means for Portland and Multnomah County at our Third Thursday event: Our Climate, Our Future: the Portland/Multnomah County Climate Action Plan at 6:30 p.m. at the Sierra Club office.
  • Hear what local faith leaders have to say about the moral implications of the climate crisis and how to build powerful coalitions at our Third Thursday event: Acting on Faith: The Moral Imperative of the Climate Crisis at 6:30 p.m. at the Sierra Club office.
  • Support our Protect State Forests campaign. We are fighting to preserve the Clatsop and Tillamook State Forests, which, as part of the Pacific Northwest temperate forest range, store much of the carbon on the planet.
  • Find out about our new You CAN Corvallis training for youth climate activists to push the Corvallis City Council to pass a climate action plan with significant greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Leaders like Pope Francis remind us that we can better build resilient communities only when everyone is included. It’s the shared human responsibility as Carl Sagan wrote, “to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot.” Taking a moral stand in being good and decent to others and to our world is what is going to help us and other species survive.

Oregon Legislature Protects Waldo Lake!

May 13, 2013


Contact: Brian Pasko
(503) 704-2188

Oregon Legislature Protects Waldo Lake
Passes Law Banning Motorboats and Sea Planes
on one of the purest lakes in the World

Waldo Lake

Early morning on Waldo Lake in central Oregon.

(SALEM, OR) —Voting  37  to 20 during a late morning session on Monday, the Oregon House of Representatives passed SB 602-A, banning the use of motorboats and seaplanes on Waldo Lake in central Oregon. This action follows last month’s 18-11 passage of the bill by the Oregon Senate. The legislation was introduced by Senator Floyd Prozanski and Representative Paul Holvey, and will now be sent to Governor Kitzhaber, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Located near Oakridge, Waldo Lake is Oregon’s second deepest lake and rivals Crater Lake and Russia’s Lake Baikal as one of the three purest lakes in the world. The lake is so clear that boaters on its surface can look down nearly 150 feet and discern the lake’s bottom (giving one the impression of floating in outer space).

“Waldo Lake is a unique Oregon treasure,” said Brian Pasko, Director of the Sierra Club’s Oregon Chapter.  “Today’s action by the Oregon legislature will protect Waldo Lake’s unique ecology and ensure that it is a place for quiet recreation and solitude to be enjoyed by Oregonians for generations to come.”

Passage of SB 602-A reaffirms a 2012 decision of the Oregon Marine Board prohibiting the use of motorized watercraft on Waldo Lake except for boats using electric motors and traveling under 10mph. The decision was made following a lengthy public comment period that engaged over 4000 Oregon citizens in the decision making process, the vast majority of which supported the motorized ban.

Following the Marine Board’s decision, the Oregon Aviation Board issued a temporary rule last year allowing sea plane landings on Waldo Lake. The Aviation Board’s decision was made contrary to the Marine Board’s determination, even though there are many large lakes near Waldo Lake that allow for safe sea plane landings and sea plane recreational opportunities. Passage of SB 602-A resolves the conflicting decisions of these two state agencies.

“Sea planes and motorized boats present a number of environmental risks to Waldo Lake, including an increased potential for the spread of invasive species and pollution of the lake through potential fuel spills, ” said Pasko. “However, Waldo Lake is also highly valued by the public as a place for quiet recreation. SB 602-A will protect the public’s expectations and support for the current management approach at Waldo Lake.”

According to Forest Service surveys, over 75% of visitors agreed that motorized boating negatively impacts their recreational experience at Waldo Lake. Almost 70% of respondents favored only allowing non-motorized boats or electric motors on Waldo Lake, and 86% favored controlling the level of noise from motorized recreation.

“This is a victory for the thousands of Oregon’s who have attended countless meetings, endured dozens of public hearings, and stood up for keeping Waldo Lake clean and quiet every step of the way,” added Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild. “The Oregon Legislature deserves great praise today for finalizing a three-decade long process to protect this special place.”

The full text of SB 602-A can be found at: http://www.leg.state.or.us/13reg/measpdf/sb0600.dir/sb0602.a.pdf

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Join is for Waldo Lake Weekend!

June 12, 2012

You’re invited to a weekend campout at Waldo Lake Shadow Bay Campground, August 24 – 26! This will be a nature feast of towering trees, wildflowers, campfires and marshmallows, and lakes with names like Bobby, Betty, Frog, Hidden and Found. There will be treks to mountain tops and shorter trails, too. Swim, float or watch waves lap in Waldo Lake. The campout offers you a chance to stretch your legs in nature’s wilds and to see why we’ve come to love Waldo.

Just 72 miles from Eugene and 93 miles south of Bend, the Waldo-Maiden Peak area offers wonderful recreation and a haven of wildlife habitat in old growth forests, pretty much the way it all was when Lewis and Clark came through Oregon. Realizing this area south and east of Waldo Lake is a real treasure worthy of preservation, the Oregon Chapter’s Eastside Forest Committee has mounted a campaign to protect it above and beyond its federal forest status. To find out more, see our Keep Waldo Wild web page.

Reserve your Shadow Bay campsite by going to the Waldo Weekend Campout web page. Register by email, phone, or by using the automated signup form there. The cost is only $10 per person or $20 per vehicle (two or more people) for Friday and Saturday nights. Payment can be made by mailing us a check or by credit card.

Don’t miss this fun-for-all weekend with old and new Sierra Club friends! Make your reservation today.

Oregon’s Ancient Forests Need Your Support

June 8, 2012

Western Oregon BLM old growth forest

Two key decisions are coming soon that will have a huge impact on the management of millions of acres of public forests on BLM and Forest Service land in Western Oregon.

First, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking comments on new management plans for 2.5 million acres of western Oregon forests that make up key drinking water sources, and important habitat for salmon and other forest species. These lands are also the focus of Congressional legislation that would remove some current environmental protections in order to maximize logging, and it is important that Oregonians weigh in overwhelmingly in support of protecting mature and old growth forests on western Oregon BLM lands from destructive logging, and to shift BLM towards ecological restoration rather than continued industrial logging on sensitive lands.

Separately, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is taking comments on a draft plan to establish ‘critical habitat’ for the Northern Spotted Owl, an old growth dependent species. The critical habitat rule as proposed would actually weaken protections for the mature and old growth forest habitat of this iconic ancient forest dependent species on both Forest Service and BLM lands in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. Unfortunately, the administration appears willing to allow new, damaging logging in sensitive old growth forests under the guise of ‘forest health,’ responding to timber industry pressure to increase logging on federal lands, despite unprecedented raw log exports from private lands in recent years.

Your comments are needed to ensure Oregon’s ancient forests finally get the protection they deserve. Here are two ways you can help:

1) Send BLM a comment to influence the development of their new western Oregon Resource Management Plans. Click here to email your comments. They are due by July 5.

2) Send the US Fish and Wildlife Service comments on their draft proposed critical habitat rule for the Northern Spotted Owl. Comments are due by July 6. You can submit comments by clicking here. Please make the following key points in your comments:

  • You are writing in support of protecting the mature and old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest that provide numerous economic and environmental benefits and are essential to threatened species such as the Northern Spotted Owl, the Marbled Murrelet, and Pacific salmon.
  • Conservation of old-growth forest ecosystems by the Northwest Forest Plan was a significant environmental advance that ended decades of unsustainable management practices. Studies show that the plan is working — the highly fragmented forests are growing back into large blocks needed to maintain water quality and recover threatened species such as the Northern Spotted Owl.
  • The draft Critical Habitat proposal raises concern because it does not protect all habitat essential to the conservation and recovery of the spotted owl.  The rule also proposes to exclude habitat on state and private lands necessary for recovery, particularly coastal redwood forests.
  • Of great concern, even for areas designated as Critical Habitat, the draft rule allows logging that is not supported by science. Three major scientific societies are advising the Obama Administration to conduct more research before more owl habitat is lost.
  • The draft includes language allowing for weakening or eliminating protections of the Northwest Forest Plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must ensure that currently protected Late Successional Reserves are maintained.
  • Logging areas now protected by the Northwest Forest Plan, including mature forests that the Plan had intended to become old-growth, is inconsistent with sound science and should not be allowed. The proposed elimination of the owl’s Late Successional Reserves as proposed in the Okanogan-Wenatchee forest plan, and possibly other forest plans for Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest and others, should be opposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Help Protect Waldo Lake!

January 27, 2012
Waldo Lake

Early morning on Waldo Lake in central Oregon.

In 2010, the Oregon State Marine Board prohibited the use of internal combustion motors on Waldo Lake in response to a broad public call to preserve the unique character of one of the clearest and most pure lakes in the world.

But today, the Board is considering reversing that decision due to pressure from a small group of motorboat users and seaplane owners.

Waldo Lake is bordered by Wilderness and old growth forest. It is one of the few large lakes that offers a quiet, semi-primitive nature experience to hikers and campers. As one of the purest lakes in the world with visibility that exceeds Crater Lake, this lake is a world treasure worth protecting. Gas motors create an unacceptable risk of pollution from usage and fuel spills, especially when there are numerous options for motorized recreation on nearby lakes.

The Marine Board is now accepting public input on the motor ban and has established a comment period from March 1 to April 10.  A public hearing will also be held on April 10, 6 p.m. at the Willamalane Center, 250 S. 32nd St., in Springfield. Click here to learn more.

 Click here to send an e-mail to the Marine Board
and ask them to protect Waldo Lake!

If you have more time, please consider sending personalized letters or submitting a letter to the editor to the newspapers listed below.  These actions take a bit more time, but can be more effective in making your voice heard than just clicking on the e-mail link above.

Write or call:

  • The Marine Board
    • Submit written comments between March 1 and April 10 via e-mail to osmb.rulemaking@state.or.us
    • USPS: Oregon State Marine Board, PO Box 14145, Salem, OR 97309-5065
    • Phone: 503-378-8587 (Hours: 8am – 5pm), Fax: 503-378-4597
  • Governor Kitzhaber
    • Email contact form: http://www.oregon.gov/Gov/contact.shtml
    • USPS: Governor Kitzhaber, 160 State Capitol, 900 Court Street, Salem, OR 97301-4047
    • Governor’s Citizens’ Representative, Message Line: 503-378-4582, Fax: 503-378-6827
  • Bend Bulletin
    • “My Nickel’s Worth”: limit 250 words, include address and day phone for verification.
    • Email: bulletin@bendbulletin.com
    • Fax: 541 385-5804
  • The Source Weekly
  • The Oregonian
    • Letters to Editor: limit 150 words, include address and day phone for verification.
    • Email: letters@oregonian.com
    • Fax: 503 294-4193

Talking Points

Here are some recommended talking points for your letter, email, or phone call (open these bullets in a pdf file for printing here – Motor Ban Talking Points):

  • Waldo is one of the purest lakes in the world with visibility that exceeds Crater Lake. This makes it a stunning world treasure. The presence of gas motors creates real risk of pollution from usage and fuel spills that are likely inevitable. This risk is unacceptable.
  • Waldo is bordered on three sides by designated wilderness and the other side is old growth forest managed by the Forest Service as primitive area with no motorized access. The character of current Waldo Lake experiences would be irreparably altered by the presence of motorized craft.
  • Over 10 years of work went into the creation of the motor ban on Waldo with all the major stakeholders participating, and the public supports the ban by a wide margin.
  • Waldo is the only large body of water in the state with a motor ban that allows a quiet experience uninterrupted by the noise from gas motors. This is a unique and valued experience that is highly prized by the public.
  • Visitors have many options for motorized recreation in the central Cascades including Odell Lake, Crescent Lake, Davis Lake, Crane Prairie Reservoir, Wickiup Reservoir, Cultus Lake, and several others. With such diverse access to motorized recreation already available, adding Waldo Lake would have little positive economic impact on local businesses.
  • The idea that Waldo is needed for float plane operations is nonsensical considering all the available nearby landing options listed in the previous point. Float planes landing and taking off from Waldo would completely destroy the quiet experience currently available there.
  • Waldo has been managed as a semi-primitive camping area from the outset, and is widely used by sailors, kayakers, hikers, mountain bikers, and campers who cherish the opportunity to have an area that is free of noise from gas motors.

Eastern Oregon Wolf Tracking – Sign up Now!

August 10, 2011

Oregon’s struggling wolf pack has made the news a lot this summer, and the Sierra Club is pleased to offer our members and supporters a chance to learn from Sierra Club volunteer and professional tracker, David Stowe, and possibly experience these amazing animals in the wild.

WHAT: Wolf Tracking in Eastern Oregon!
WHEN: September 22-25, 2011
WHERE: TBD by the Wolves!
COST: $575 (includes meals and local transportation)

On this trip we’ll be following one of Oregon’s wolf packs, looking for tracks, scat, kill sites, and other wolf signs each day. Participants should expect to hike 3-5 (easy to moderate) miles each day.  At night, we will car camp in the area that the wolves are frequenting and howl for wolves in the evenings, which is an amazing experience when the wolves respond.

Local experts, government agency staff, and members of the Nez Perce Tribe will assist in locating the pack and share their perspectives about Oregon’s wolves.  We’ll also examine the effects that grazing and herbivores have on the landscape and learn about the beneficial effects wolves can play in restoring balance to the ecosystem.

Participants must provide their own transportation to Joseph, Oregon and gear for car camping and day hikes. On Thursday, participants will arrive in Joseph for an orientation at 3pm.  Dinner will be at 6pm, and then we will head out to howl for wolves if time permits. On Friday and Saturday, David Stowe and other staff will lead field hikes looking for wolf sign and pointing out tracks and sign of the other animals in the area including bear, coyote, bobcat, elk, deer, badger, snowshoe hare, and more.  On Sunday, breakfast will be served and participants will depart for home. For more information about the program and logistics, contact David Stowe at 541-633-7045 or dave@wildernesstracking.com.

Reserve your spot by paying for this trip in full by September 1, 2011 and enclosing your name and contact information.  Our trip leader will follow up with confirmed participants to seek additional information about dietary needs, medical concerns, etc.  Checks can be mailed to the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club, 1821 SE Ankeny Street, Portland OR 97214.  Payment can also be accepted by credit card by calling Joy Keen at 503-238-0442 x300.

Conservation Groups Call on State to Suspend Wolf Killing, Prioritize Recovery

June 6, 2011

In light of the recent killing of two endangered gray wolves, the Sierra Club and a large coalition of local, state, and national conservation groups today called on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to make immediate and significant improvements in managing the state’s recovering wolf population.

In a letter submitted today to ODFW Director Roy Elicker, the eleven groups urged the agency to increase transparency, enhance outreach, prioritize non-lethal measures for reducing conflict, suspend 24 landowner kill permits, and make lethal control a truly last-resort option.

Oregon is currently home to 17 confirmed wolves and two breeding pairs. The state wildlife agency has killed four wolves in the last two years to assuage livestock industry concerns. Another died shortly after being collared by the agency in February and a sixth was killed by poachers last fall.