Umpqua Watersheds History/Accomplishments

Umpqua Watersheds has a rich history over the past 30 years.

Late-2000s to present

— Partnerships with sister conservation organizations strengthen, and robust monitoring of federal lands policies and practices continues.

— The Wild on Wilderness (WOW) committee forms to advocate for more wilderness designation on the Umpqua.

— UW partners with Oregon Wild and Environment Oregon to propose the establishment of the Crater Lake Wilderness. Support continues to build for this campaign.

— Monitoring of federal lands continues, and UW branches out to build robust Education and Restoration programs as a proactive complement to our Conservation work.

— The “Learn, Earn, and Serve” program is developed in partnership with Phoenix School, Umpqua Community College and the UNF to educate and train local youth for careers in Natural Resources. Partnerships continue to grow with other public land managers.

— UW hires the first of a series of VISTA/Americorps members. These energetic young folks develop and implement the Science Friday programs, a Wilderness Literature curriculum, a Watershed Tour, a Science Olympiad Team, and field trips to Crater Lake for every 5th grader in the county.

— An historic collaborative with the Umpqua National Forest, the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership, the Partnership for Umpqua Rivers, the Umpqua Tribe, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, UW and others is created to develop a restoration plan for Elk Creek Watershed on the South Umpqua.

— The Umpqua Natural Resources Pathway program is finalized at Umpqua Community College to create a seamless pathway for Natural Resources students to progress from high school to an Associate of Science degree at UCC and then on to a Bachelor of Science at OSU.

— UW continues to host celebrations to raise funds and awareness including our Annual Banquet, River Appreciation Day, and more recently the Umpqua Brewfest, now one of Douglas County’s premiere events.

Mid-1990s to late-2000s

— Informal meetings of new and veteran forest activists coalesce into a new partnership, and Articles of Incorporation for Umpqua Watersheds, Inc. are signed in 1995.

— The infamous 1996 “Salvage Rider” (a.k.a. “Lawless Logging”) suspends the Northwest Forest Plan and brings the timber wars to Douglas County.

— Our young organization is thrust into the national spotlight. We host CNN on before-and-after visits to the heartbreaking Yellow Creek old growth timber sale. Our photos, videos and testimony of the carnage are carried by national news media.

Late-1970s to mid-1990s

— After a long and hard-fought battle, the Umpqua Wilderness Defenders help win passage of the 1984 Wilderness Bill designating Boulder Creek, Windigo-Thielsen, and Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wildernesses. After this historic success, that organization disbands.

— Without a full-time watchdog, ad hoc committees occasionally form to fight egregious timber sales with some success, e.g., the ancient forest surrounding Canton Falls still stands.

— The late 1980s see far more acres of old growth forests clearcut than at any time in history. The rapid decline of old growth-dependent species becomes alarming.

— The 1990 listing of the Northern Spotted Owl and threats to several runs of salmon and steelhead focuses attention on the Umpqua.

— Local conservationists again begin to meet informally to help shape new legislation. Animosity toward them intensifies, whipped up by misplaced fears of job losses.

— Representatives from the Umpqua’s conservation community are invited to the table with the Clinton Administration and other stakeholders to help develop a new management plan to protect Northern Spotted Owls on federal lands.

— The Northwest Forest Plan is adopted in 1994 and continues to be the document that regulates logging practices on BLM and Forest Service lands.

— The Spotted Owl is on the cover of National Geographic, and Time magazine declares the Umpqua “ground zero” in the old growth logging controversy.

— The first ever acts of environmental civil disobedience on the Umpqua lead to arrests and intense news coverage. UW reconnoiters timber sales, leads tours, hosts press conferences, and partners with regional conservation organizations to build national support.

— The Clinton administration becomes directly involved in negotiations with UW, Industry, and the Umpqua National Forest over the First and Last timber sales. A settlement is struck that saves 35 million board feet of healthy old growth forest in the South Umpqua basin.

— Other UW successes that year accrue to the protection of hundreds more acres of our Nation’s ancient heritage including the iconic stand on Cobble Creek.

— The 1996 Hubbard Creek Landslide that originates on a private clearcut kills 4 of our neighbors and shocks the community. UW fights for and wins changes in OR logging regs.

— The Salvage Rider sunsets at the end of 1996, but even under the NWFP, much important habitat remains vulnerable.

— UW hires its first forest monitor, and soon after builds enough local support to rent its first office in downtown Roseburg. Our website is among the first environmental sites on the web.

— An Executive Director is hired, and UW is recognized regionally and nationally as an enduring conservation voice. Our newsletter 100 Valleys keeps members informed.

— Into the next millennium, UW continues to monitor all federal timber sales on the Umpqua for compliance with American law. Thousands of acres of timber sales are modified or withdrawn, and logging practices are improved as a result of UW’s vigilance. Poor management decisions are challenged, and critical habitat is protected.

— UW develops many outreach events to educate our youth, inform our neighbors and celebrate our forests, rivers and other wild places.

— Trust and cooperation gradually builds between agency specialists and UW experts.