Conservation Update.. Summer 2020
From the Conservation/ Legal Director ….Angela Jensen
As a new member of the Umpqua Watershed team, it is an honor and privilege to write this as my first article for our newsletter. First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Angela Jensen. I am a native of the Deer Creek watershed and Kalmiopsis region of Southern Oregon. It is here that I developed a keen interest in finding a way to protect what I love- healthy forests, clean waters, and native wildlife in Oregon.
In the summer of 2013, I met Umpqua Watersheds Executive Director, Kasey Hovik, while we pursued the same course of study through Vermont Law School- Environmental Law and Policy. My correspondence and friendship with Kasey continued even after I extended my education for three additional years. And so, it was with great excitement that I accepted an offer to fill a most rewarding part time position for Umpqua Watersheds.
The Conservation/ Legal Director position is a new role for me entirely, but one that is essential to our vision- to protect and restore the ecosystems of the Umpqua watershed. One important way we do this is through advocacy. Therefore, in this position I will closely monitor agency proposals concerning land use and forest management decisions. During Notice and Comment periods, I will write comments invoking the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and other environmental laws to ensure that agencies remain in compliance with the mandates and principles of these laws. I will also periodically write letters to the legislature to lobby for “climate smart” legislation. These writings will include discussions of the relevant science in support of changing laws and policies so that they reflect our changing climate. And finally, I will continuously monitor final agency actions that may be ripe for legal challenges.
Over the last couple weeks, I have been collaborating with other nonprofit and like-minded interest groups on behalf of Umpqua Watersheds. One such group is the Forest Waters Coalition. This group convenes to discuss key issues of environmental concern and to address advocacy and legislative strategies in resolving these issues. Other activities that I have engaged in are recent discussions with other Google groups and webinars. The “Oregon Forest Strategy” discussion was most informative concerning Executive Order 20-04 and Oregon Department of Forestry’s implementation of the EO. The “Northwest Forest & Carbon; Science and Solutions” webinar provided a wealth of information regarding the need to protect carbon reserves and increase carbon sinks if we are to properly address the climate crises.
In addition to these collaborative and educational tools, I am very excited that Umpqua Watersheds will be organizing a team of volunteers to engage in “ground-truthing.” As we anticipate an escalating number of timber sales on BLM and Umpqua National Forest lands, ground-truthing will allow us to document and address the successes and failures of agency forest and land management. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but for Umpqua Watersheds it may very well mean the difference between a healthy, late-succession forest habitat and one that succumbs to forest farming at the hands of exploitive interests. Ground-truthing will undoubtedly assist us in our mission to hold Federal and State agencies accountable.
At this critical time, it is imperative to take proactive steps to hold agencies accountable and to protect and restore our forest ecosystems. Our communities rely on forest and biodiversity health for the ecosystem services they provide. While these services include a sustainable and resilient economy, they must also include clean water, clean air, viable soils, carbon sequestration, and habitats supportive of great biodiversity. In a word, a healthy forest is a resilient forest. It is resilient and more adaptable to climate change. The services provided by a resilient forest will help ensure a resilient community- a community better equipped to withstand ill health and other negative implications of our changing climate that most certainly lie ahead.
On a final note, I would like to invite interested individuals to attend and engage in our monthly Conservation Committee meetings. Information can be found at https://umpquawatersheds.org/get-involved/committees/. Together, we will learn and realize a better way of forest and watershed management. Together, we will stand strong and resilient.