Wilderness Committee Update
I hope you all have had a great summer and have remained safe from the fires and from Covid, as well as been able to spend time in the mountains, unto the lakes, or travel the coast. For the members of the wilderness committee, the summer began with a roar. Our return to the Umpqua Valley Farmers’ Market in May was very successful. We developed a new brand for the campaign in June. We had T-shirts and ball caps made with the image and introduced them to the public at the market. The citizens of Douglas County accepted them with enthusiasm, and every Saturday, we sold a few items. But selling is a misnomer. We offered a cap or T-shirt to people for free if they donated $20.00 to support the campaign. As a bonus, their donation brought with it membership to Umpqua Watersheds. This approach created a double benefit; the Wilderness Committee brought in much-needed revenue and increased Umpqua Watersheds member rolls.
Then in late July, our efforts were cut short by the Covid surge in Douglas County. The few weeks of freedom from the worry and fear of infection the vaccine gave us was obliterated by a new, more virulent virus.
Even so, we were able to gather over 700 signed postcards demonstrating support for the proposal from fellow Douglas County citizens and mail them to Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Representative Peter DeFazio.
In July, committee chair Tony Cannon created a great short video about the importance of protecting our native rivers and streams and posted it to YouTube and Facebook. The headwaters of six iconic Oregon rivers are within the boundaries of the Crater Lake Wilderness Proposal and this year we extended those boundaries to include the beautiful and pristine Spring River.
The committee’s mission is to protect Crater Lake and the untouched areas surrounding it through Wilderness designation. We are deeply involved in an issue that goes beyond that mission. Member Bob Hoehne has been our lead in the creation and the drive to pass Senator Ron Wyden’s bill, the River Democracy Act, which is probably the most significant piece of conservation legislation in recent Oregon history. The River Democracy Act will add nearly 4,700 miles of rivers and streams in Oregon to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system – the greatest Wild and Scenic Rivers effort in our nation’s history. Nominations were submitted by 2500 Oregonians for more than15,000 rivers and streams as part of Wyden’s statewide public effort to protect more of Oregon’s waterways, reduce catastrophic wildfire risks, improve drinking water, expand recreation access, and boost recovery rural jobs and economies. Bob has worked hard to fight for the inclusion of the Upper South Umpqua River to the list of protected rivers and still hopes to accomplish that in the bill’s final draft.
There are ways each of us can help: Visit www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/email-ron to email Sen. Wyden,
visit this website: oregonwild.org/cosponsor and fill out the short information form on the bottom of the page and submit the form, more importantly, is to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Express your support and why you think it is essential to Douglas County and all of Oregon. Here is the link to submit a letter to the News-Review: www.nrtoday.com/site/forms/online_services/letter_editor/
Please take the time to do one, or both, of these things. We are constantly asking Sen Wyden to support our Crater Lake Wilderness campaign. Let’s show him we support his priorities too.
Another member of the committee, Susan Applegate made a direct appeal for support from our senators by speaking to 2 members of Senator Merkley’s staff about our progress and intentions for the CLWP. She is also reaching out to our campaign coalition members, the National Parks Conservation Association, Environment Oregon, the Crater Lake Institute, as well as Oregon Wild, to reaffirm their commitment to the campaign. She and Bob Hoehne are doing the same to reaffirm endorsement of the campaign from sister conservation organizations such as the Native Fish Society and Cascadia Wildlands.
Even though we love the face-to-face interactions we are doing everything we can to move our mission forward and create an outcome that will benefit you, our forests, our rivers, and the planet.