PROTECT FOREST WATERS
Let’s Make Water Security a Priority of Oregon’s Forest Laws.
Secure Oregon’s water future!
Oregon’s climate is changing, our population is growing.
Our water supplies face serious challenges.
We can secure our water future by updating protections for our forest waters.
Oregonians from across the state seek to bring protections for rivers and streams in our forests up to the level needed to safeguard clean water and forest communities. The effort is led by people who have suffered from a lack of protections for forest waters on Oregon’s private and state forestlands.
Oregon forest practices allow for more intensive logging and aerial spray near streams, homes, and schools. These weak laws threaten forest waters, community health, and fish and wildlife habitat.
“The water that I drink comes from a stream above our farm that is completely unprotected from logging and was clearcut right up to the edge a few years ago.” – Chief Petitioner Micha Elizabeth Gross, Coos County. “Dirt and pesticides from that clearcut runoff directly into the water my family and business rely on. We need modern laws that protect our streams and rivers so that more communities don’t lose their precious water supplies.”
Eighty percent of Oregon’s residents and communities draw their drinking water from rivers and streams that begin in a forest. But current logging practices threaten both the quantity and quality of water available because Oregon’s no-cut buffers around waterways are too small and in some cases non-existent. Companies spray toxic chemicals from the air two to four times after logging. These sprays can drift into rivers and streams, or be washed into waterways as runoff, putting people and wildlife at risk.
In the News…
Everything Oregon’s Legislature did — and didn’t do — for the environment
By: Rob Davis
New logging rule allows continued harm to streams
By Stacey Detwiler and Mary Scurlock
Feds Cut Oregon Funds Over Failure To Protect Coastal Waters From Logging
By Cassandra Profita
Increased Protections Sought For Coho Salmon In Oregon Coastal Rivers
By David Steves
Q: Why do we need change?
A: Oregon’s laws and rules for the protection of forest waters are outdated and ineffective, allowing streamside clearcut logging and aerial spray practices that are prohibited in Washington, Idaho and California. As a result, water sources in communities such as Rockaway Beach, Corbett and Salem have been contaminated and dangerously diminished. Poorly-controlled aerial spraying of toxic pesticides has sickened people and their pets in communities adjacent to forest lands. These effects are becoming more common, as our climate warms and as industrial logging continues in Oregon without the safeguards in effect in neighboring states. Lawmakers have failed to enact reasonable improvements to Oregon’s forest management laws because of the influence on money in politics and the conflict of interest on the Board of Forestry. Oregon’s Department of Forestry has relied largely on voluntary compliance with existing forest practices laws and rules, and as OPB has reported, the lack of enforcement has prompted one member of the Board of Forestry to question whether existing laws and rules related to harvest practices and replanting requirements are being honored by all forestland owners.
Q: What do forestland owners and foresters think?
A: We all use and enjoy wood products, and foresters and loggers know what we need to do to care for the land. Many of them are leading the way to sustainable practices, others have yet to catch up.
Q: How do we need to change Oregon laws and rules governing forest practices?
A: Oregon has failed to keep up with best practices established in other states. For example, current law limits no-logging buffers to as little as 20 feet from the edge of most rivers and streams with fish, while most smaller headwaters streams can be logged to the water’s edge. To fix this, we need to expand the no-logging protection to 100 feet for larger rivers and streams and drinking water sources, and requires minimum buffers of 50 feet for smaller forest waters. Current law prohibits aerial spraying of pesticides on forestlands when within 60 feet of larger forest waters, dwellings or schools but has no distance restriction on such spraying adjacent to most forest waters. To fix this, we need to extend the prohibition of aerial spraying of pesticides to areas within 500 feet of all forest waters, dwellings and schools and would provide more effective advance notice of spraying to nearby residents. Finally, although Oregon’s rules define and identify “high landslide hazard locations,” there is no requirement to limit logging that could threaten forest waters in such areas. To fix this, we need to require the State Forester to determine that a proposed forest operation will not increase the risk of a landslide delivering sediment or debris to forest waters before it may go forward.
“People need water and fish need water – it’s as simple as that,” said Crump. “Our weak laws are pushing people and wildlife to a tipping point and we desperately need to update our laws to keep up with the best science before its too late.”
Thousands of Oregon residents from across the State, family-owned businesses, public health advocates and non-profit groups have come together to educate the public about the need for change. Supporters include foresters, loggers, fisherman, water managers, teachers, doctors, nurses, firefighters and people from all walks of life.
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