THE FOREST WATERS PROTECTION ACT:
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.
The Oregon Forest Waters Protection Act was filed to help bring protections for rivers and streams in Oregon’s forests up to the level of neighboring states to better 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.
“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.”
Seventy 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
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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
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Q: Why do we need this initiative?
A: Oregon’s laws and rules for the protection of forest waters are outdated and ineffective, allowing streamside clearcut logging and aerial spray practices that are prohibited in Washington, Idaho and California.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: Were forestland owners and foresters consulted in drafting this initiative?
A: Yes, over a period of more than a year, sponsors of this initiative met with and consulted with forestland owners and with forest scientists, shared early drafts of the initiative and incorporated their suggestions in our final language.
Q: How does this initiative change Oregon laws and rules governing forest practices that are now in effect?
A: This initiative builds on and strengthens key provisions of the Oregon Forest Practices Act and related rules that have 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. This initiative expands 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. This initiative would 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. This initiative requires 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.”
This initiative is led by three chief petitioners, who are joined by thousands of Oregon residents across the State. This effort is supported by North Coast Communities for Watershed Protection, Audubon Society of Portland, Beyond Toxics, Crag Law Center, Oregon Wild, Wild Salmon Center, Cascadia Wildlands, Native Fish Society, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center and many other businesses and people throughout Oregon.
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