Forest Waters Declaration
– Protecting People, Wildlife & Forests –
Oregon’s forest laws are the weakest on the West Coast and expose fresh water supplies to warming temperatures, logging debris, and toxic chemicals. The changing climate and growing population present severe challenges to vital water supplies. We seek to update our laws and secure protections for our forest waters.
We need to update our laws to protect our forests and the water they provide for Oregon.
Millions of Oregonians in both rural and urban landscapes get their drinking water from waters originating in Oregon’s forests, as over 75% of Oregon’s municipal water supplies are sourced from our forested landscapes.
Oregon law lacks adequate limits on industrial logging to protect the quality and quantity of community drinking water sources and habitat for fish and wildlife. Oregon has failed to keep pace with the science, data and the laws of neighboring states and federal forest agencies with respect to the protection for forest waters; and
Oregon law allows more intensive logging closer to forest waters, including rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands, than neighboring states, which erodes banks, muddies waters, removes shade, raises water temperatures and decreases water supplies.
Oregon law allows the aerial application of toxic pesticides across broader areas of forest watersheds than neighboring states and federal forest agencies, which affects forest waters and endangers the health of residents in adjacent communities throughout rural Oregon.
Oregon law allows intensive logging in high landslide hazard locations unlike neighboring states, which increases sediment and debris in forest waters and increases the need for costly treatment of drinking water for Oregonians.
A warming climate and more volatile weather patterns necessitate stronger practices to vigorously protect our drinking water supplies and maintain healthy forests across the state; and
Plantation tree farms on private and public land have even-aged, equal size canopy dense rows of trees that burn hotter and increase the risk of uncharacteristic forest fires that damage fragile watersheds and reduce forest water storage, a risk which is being intensified by a warming climate and more volatile weather patterns.
Better and more up-to-date forest management and harvest practices will protect waters and reduce the overall risk of severe forest fires by increasing the amount of fire-resistant older trees adjacent to rivers and streams which serve as natural fire breaks adjacent to forest waters; and
Oregon allows conflicts of interest for the board in conducting enforcement, gathering and analyzing data to protect the resource and in setting forest rules, including the rules that affect the waters in rivers and streams, by the Board of Forestry and subsidiary committees that would otherwise be prohibited under state ethics laws.
Clean and protected forest waters are vital to our families and our communities for use in the home, industry, recreation, tourism and a variety of economic enterprises;
THEREFORE, the people of Oregon find it necessary to update and improve Oregon laws in order to better protect our health and safety and to promote our economic well-being by protecting and preserving Oregon’s forest waters.