By Janice Reid
We have many things going on at Umpqua Watersheds. Members of our committees continue to keep abreast of issues on public lands and waterways and provide public comment on these. Community engagement is strong through our environmental education and outreach programs. We are also changing, growing, and adapting. Our volunteer Executive Director, Kasey Hovik, will soon be able to focus more on Umpqua Watersheds programs when he retires from his Umpqua Community College job. It is amazing what he has accomplished while also having a full-time job. Stay tuned for more news on that.
We know that many of you would like to get involved as well and we have heard from you. Please consider attending the meetings of committees that are of most interest to you. Current committees include Conservation, Education, Restoration, Outreach, Wilderness, DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), KQUA (radio station), Grant Writing, and Facilities Management. Whatever your skill or interest, I am sure we can find a way for you to contribute. The best way to find out about what you can do to help is to join the conversation. Committee meetings are currently all held via Zoom. You can find out more by emailing the committee chairs or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are other ways that you can be helpful. The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) has an online service that allows anyone to subscribe to notifications about forest activities occurring on private land. Whether you are interested in knowing what is happening near your home, or what types of forest-related activities are happening statewide, FERNS (Forest Activity Electronic Reporting and Notification System) is an excellent source of information. Whether it is road building, pesticide application, or tree harvest, FERNS has been tracking these activities since 2014 throughout Oregon. I recently discovered through this system that a private landowner had not filed the required notification for harvest with ODF. State Foresters are unable to check on every notification so if you see something that does not seem to align with what is filed in FERNS, you can email the state employee listed on the notification for information, questions, or concerns.
Keeping forest landowners compliant with the state forest practices law is important since the forest protection laws of Oregon are, as Jerry Franklin pointed out, “the weakest of the three western states.” You can make a difference! See https://ferns.odf.oregon.gov/E-Notification/ to set up a free account and subscribe.