News from Salem: Can we just adjourn already?

June 26, 2015

Well, we’re nearing the end of the 2015 session of the Oregon Legislature, and I think it’s fair to say it’s going to shake out as a disappointing session for the environmental community. Sierra Club staff have been closely tracking bills and meeting with legislators in Salem to advocate for clean, renewable energy, wildlife protection, our state forests, and more.

state capitol

But in short, it’s been a lot of work, with not much to show for it in terms of real conservation accomplishments. We’ll have a full rundown post-session, but here’s a quick summary of some of the work we’ve been doing in our state capitol:

  • Clean Fuels Program: If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news recently, you’ve likely heard the saga of the near-repeal of the Clean Fuels Program. Extending the sunset on Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program – which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Oregon’s transportation sector by 10% over the next decade – was one of the Oregon Conservation Network’s Priorities for a Healthy Oregon. Though it was the subject of much contention, the bill finally passed earlier this session and has been one of the few environmental victories in 2015. Unfortunately, it got wrapped up in partisan squabbling over a transportation package and was very nearly snatched away from us. While it is not a perfect program and is merely a first step toward solving our climate crisis, having it repealed would have been a real setback for the environmental community. Luckily, as of today, that effort appears to have stalled and the Clean Fuels Program is likely safe for now.
  • Toxic-Free Toys: Senate Bill 478, the Toxic Free Kids Act, will protect kids from exposure to toxics in children’s products by requiring manufacturers to notify health officials when children’s products sold in Oregon contain chemicals of concern, and then to phase out those chemicals for three product categories. The bill passed out of the Ways and Means Committee just this week and the prospects seem good for its passage.
  • Coal to Clean Energy: One of our biggest priorities coming into session – and another of the Oregon Conservation Network’s priorities – was our Coal-to-Clean package. Senate Bill 477 and House Bill 2729 would have moved Oregon’s investor-owned electric utilities – Pacific Power and PGE – off coal by 2025 and required that the replacement power for coal was largely renewable energy like solar and wind. And even though Oregonians overwhelmingly support the idea of getting coal out of our energy mix, and even though many legislators were initially on board with the proposal, the legislation died in committee. We were quite disappointed with that outcome and hope to bring these concepts back in the future, as we are committed to finding the right path to reach the broader goals of transitioning off coal to clean energy.
  • Solar and other clean energy: We’ve also worked on a number of other bills related to clean energy that remain alive in the 2015 session. House Bill 2447 will extend the very successful Residential Energy Tax Credit for home solar energy. HB 2632 would help to incentivize the creation of utility-scale solar power in the state. These solar energy bills are currently still moving through the legislative process and have the potential to be positive steps in the right direction if they can pass.

In addition, several bills relating to limiting or putting a price on carbon were introduced this session. House Bill 3470 – which would create a “cap and delegate” program similar to California’s – is the only one that remains alive. We’ll continue to monitor and support this legislation.

  • Elliott State Forest: The Sierra Club played a leading role in the coalition that got the Elliott State Forest designated as an OCN priority. As a process within the Department of State Lands (DSL) plays out to determine the ultimate future of the Elliott, we were working in the legislature to set up a process by which such a solution could be implemented. But the trust land transfer program we and Rep. Tobias Read were working to establish with HB 3474 died in committee on the bill deadline day. On the bright side, we were pleased to see the demise of HB 3533, which would have given the State Land Board and DSL license to sell off parcels of the Elliott to the highest bidder. We hope to be able to bring legislation in a future session to help reach a good solution for the Elliott.
  • Defending Wildlife: Just two weeks into the 2015 session, we saw renewed attacks on Oregon’s wildlife. House Bills 2050 and 2181 were two of the many introduced bills that would have allowed counties to opt out of a statewide ban on the practice of hunting cougars with dogs. Thankfully, those bills – along with a bill that would have prohibited the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission from including the gray wolf on the list of threatened or endangered species – died in committee and we seem to have mostly escaped any mischief on wildlife issues.
  • Suction Dredge Mining: One other bill we were supporting was Senate Bill 830, which would have taken steps to improve the regulation of suction dredge mining in our state. In addition to putting a cap on the total number of suction dredge mining permits, SB 830 would have placed limitations on mining – both in-river and on uplands – where it would undermine Oregon’s investment in habitat restoration for salmon and other critical species. The bill seems to have died late in session, but we plan to work with partners to bring back similar legislation in the 2016 session.

We’ll keep plugging away these last few weeks in Salem and will see where we end up. But we can’t do it without you, so stay tuned for ways to get involved and help pass good legislation to protect the Oregon we all love.


The Wilson River Corridor – A Little Something for Everyone

June 25, 2015

Oregon’s renowned public lands offer Oregonians a unique and special lifestyle and provide our state with a  natural legacy–picturesque beauty, diverse wildlife, wild rivers, snow-capped mountains, lush forests–that is the envy of many. Public lands are one of the defining aspects of this great state, and iconic national forests and parks are often the go-to for Oregonians mentioning their favorite getaways.

What about our state-owned jewels in north west Oregon? The Tillamook and Clatsop state forests are not on the cover of Oregon travel and destination magazines or profiled by national media, but these forests–logged, burned and now recovering–may be Oregon’s best place to offer a little something for everyone. A trip down Highway 6 illustrates why…

Just past milepost 35 (a mere 30 minute drive from Hillsboro) is beautiful Gales Creek. This tributary of the Tualatin River offers a great spot for the family to camp, play in the creek, and explore the nearby douglas fir forest.

Just past milepost 35 (a 30 minute drive from Hillsboro) is beautiful Gales Creek. This tributary of the Tualatin River offers a great spot for the family to camp, play in the creek, and explore the nearby douglas fir forest.

Wilson River Corridor 397

Two miles down the road (milepost 33) is the southern turnoff to University Falls Trail. A short walk will take a photographer and plenty of gear to a curtain-like falls that captures light beautifully and pours into a bundle of downed logs and beautiful pools.

CIMG7042 Ryan Kilgren

Near milepost 28 is Elk Creek Trailhead and Campground. Options here are abundant: splash around in the Wilson River, find a cool spot and set up the hamock, or start the long haul up the Kings-Elk Mountain traverse. A safe bet is hopping on the mountain bike and heading down the awesome Wilson River Trail.

Three miles down the highway or the trail is the Kings Mountain Trailhead. This iconic coast range hike is a quad killer--the trail climbs 2,546 feet in just 2.5 miles. From the summit (3,226 feet) one can see the Pacific Ocean and Mount Hood. Spectacular!

Three miles down the highway or the trail is the Kings Mountain Trailhead. This iconic coast range hike is a quad killer–the trail climbs 2,546 feet in just 2.5 miles. From the summit (3,226 feet) one can see the Pacific Ocean and Mount Hood. Spectacular!

At milepost 23 the whole family can take a break from the heat and find the Jones Creek Campground. This very accessible spot features just about anything you'd want on a hot summer day. The feature is deep swimming holes, warm basking rocks rocks, and sandy beaches.

At milepost 23 the whole family can take a break from the heat and find the Jones Creek Campground. This very accessible spot features just about anything you’d want on a hot summer day. The feature is deep swimming holes, warm basking rocks rocks, and sandy beaches.

The Footbridge Trailhead at milepost 20 is the culmination of the Wilson River Trail and the beginning of some great spots for fishing. Though the water will be low during summer months, a patient angler can pursue cutthroat trout or hatchery summer steelhead, though catch-and-release fishing can stress out native fish in low water.

The Footbridge Trailhead at milepost 20 is the beginning of some great spots for fishing. Though the water will be low during summer months, a patient angler can pursue cutthroat trout or hatchery summer steelhead, though catch-and-release fishing can stress out native fish in low water.

The Wilson River Corridor (and all of Oregon’s state forests) are worthy of protection, exploration, and enjoyment. Spend some time in these spots this summer. Find some peace and relaxation. Share pictures and help tell the story: #WilsonRiverFun #ORStateForests. Check back frequently, this is just a taste and we’ll be exploring these spots (and others) more in upcoming posts. On September 5th, join us on the Wilson River for a giant celebration of these lands. Details soon…


Re-Imagining “50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest”

June 1, 2015

The Sierra Club will be publishing a new version of the iconic 50 Hikes in the Tillamook State Forest which is now out of print and out of date. Hopefully this version will include several new hikes, including some in the Clatsop State Forest. We’re very excited to take a new look at all of the great trails in the area and to work with some amazing volunteers to put the book together. If you have any interest in being involved in the project email Lauren Cooper (lcooper@reed.edu). Happy trails!

50 Hikes


March 5, 2015

Hello,

I’m Andy Maggi, the new Chapter Director of your Sierra Club here in Oregon. Its an honor to have this opportunity to introduce myself. A little over a month ago I was honored to be chosen for this position. You, like me, know just how important the Sierra Club is when it comes to protecting public health, our wild places, fighting polluters, and leading the fight to curb climate change. You know the history and record of victories that make the Sierra Club a leader in the national environmental movement. That’s a legacy hard to pass up being a part of, and one that I take seriously. You can visit our website to see my full biography, but I come to the Club with a deep commitment to the issues and values you’ve already been working to forward. I’ve worked years fighting for and electing candidates who share those priorities and want to see real progress when it comes to protecting public health, the environment, and curbing green house gas emissions.

There isn’t enough room here to tell you all of my ideas and hopes for my time as Oregon Chapter Director, but to put it as simply as I can – I believe we will do great things together.

With supporters like you, committed volunteers, and a legacy of environmental protection, we can accomplish a lot right here in Oregon. Whether we meet on the trail at one of the Chapter’s outings, at a table talking to the public about our priorities, on the phone getting new volunteers engaged with our work, or at a training I look forward to working with you. I’m excited about the opportunities we have at the Chapter and excited to meet you soon.

In the meantime, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out.

Signature_AndyMaggi


Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club Announces New Director

January 7, 2015

Sierra Club LogoFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 7, 2015

Portland, Ore. – The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is pleased to announce that Andy Maggi will be taking on the Chapter Director role for the organization starting January 12th, 2015. bringing with him a strong dedication to Oregon’s environmental movement. Maggi most recently worked on Senator Jeff Merkley’s successful re-election campaign. Before that, he spent several years with the Oregon League of Conservation Voters where he was the architect of several of OLCV’s key political victories.

Maggi is eager to assume his new responsibilities with the Club, stating, “When it comes to protecting the environment there are few names more symbolic or powerful than the Sierra Club and I’m thrilled to be joining them as the Oregon Chapter Director. Oregon is a beautiful state, and we need to protect our rivers, lakes, mountains, oceans, and special places while addressing big challenges like Climate Change. I look forward to working with staff, leaders, and volunteers of the Oregon chapter as we grow this organization and lead the public and elected officials to making the right decisions when it comes to protecting our environment”.

Added Larry Pennington, Board Chair of the Oregon Chapter, “Andy’s experience with in the environmental and political communities will be invaluable to what we want to accomplish as a chapter. We are honored to add him to our team as we pursue conservation victories for Oregon.”

Maggi will be taking over as Chapter Director from Brian Pasko, who has led the organization since 2008.

The Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is a diverse, volunteer-driven organization that empowers communities to protect the climate, preserve wild places, and experience the beauty of the natural environment.

# # #


OREGON CHAPTER SEEKS NEXT CHAPTER DIRECTOR

October 22, 2014

Sierra Club LogoIn 2008, Brian Pasko joined the Oregon Chapter as our Chapter Director. After more than a decade of employment with the Sierra Club he will be leaving the Chapter around the end of 2014.  In preparation for his departure, the Oregon Chapter is actively recruiting our next Chapter Director.

This is an opportunity to work with the best environmental activists in the state on conservation issues close to home. We’re looking for that unique combination of a green fire in the belly, strong budget and team management skills, and the ability to work with a wide variety of stakeholders to accomplish great things, including increased financial support for our programs.

If you’re ready to tackle a leadership role for an organization focused on keeping the Oregon air clear, our trees green and our wildlife protected, please click here for all the details and to apply.


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!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,007 other followers