Forest Waters Campaign Update

Hello from the Oregon Forest Waters coalition!

We are making excellent progress in our campaign to protect forest waters in Oregon through ballot measures. Our forest water measures will update forest management practices, improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and increase the resilience of our forests in the face of climate change.

The three measures – Initiative Petitions 45, 46, and 47 – were filed in October by concerned Oregonians to put the vote on the ballot for this year’s election. The aim is to increase protections for water in Oregon’s forests up to the level of Washington State.

We’re hearing support from people around the state, and our polling is strong. Plus, we’ve been getting a lot of coverage in the media.

Another sign that we’re off to a good start: Logging interests have responded with ballot measures of their own. And, no surprise, they’re already resorting to extremist rhetoric despite the fact that our proposals largely follow the standards of neighboring states. Our proposals are reasonable, feasible, and long overdue.

This will be a challenge, as is always the case when taking on the logging industry in Oregon, but one that is shaping up to break the stranglehold that the logging industry has exercised on environmental policy in Oregon for too long.

Here are four quick updates on the campaign and a way you can help.

4 quick updates

1.  Our refiled Initiative Petitions have final titles and they are strong.

The forest waters coalition resubmitted three initiative petitions on October 2, 2019 (IP 45, 46, and 47). Please take a look at the titles

IP 45:  Expands area around forest waterbodies where aerial pesticides are prohibited and where logging operations limited

IP 46:  Expands area around forest waterbodies where aerial pesticide spraying prohibited; increases notice requirements for spraying

IP 47:  Expands to 50/100 feet the area around waterbodies where commercial logging operations limited; exceptions

As expected, the logging industry – who have opposed the measures all along – appealed these titles to the Oregon Supreme Court. The Attorney General will defend the titles, and the chief petitioners will submit amicus briefs to the Court.

2. The logging industry is pursuing three measures of their own. Please consider taking a look at them as well.

IP 53:  A Constitutional Amendment that will require taxpayers to pay landowners when laws protect public values – like buffers for rivers and streams – without any exceptions for public health, safety.

IP 54:  Statutory measure to block voter’s and legislature’s ability to change forest laws.

IP 55:  Statutory measure to change the board of forestry to increase the number of logging interests on the board.

One of these cynical measures received its final ballot title on Monday, January 13. The other one was rejected on single-subject grounds. The third will have a final title assigned on January 17. The current titles for IP 54 and 55 expose the brazen attempt by the logging industry to rig the rules in their favor and put corporate interests ahead of the public good.

3. New climate study underscores the need for forest protections

Oregon State University researchers published a wake-up call study on December 4. The OPB headline says it all:  “Study Finds Not Logging Some Northwest Forests Could Offset Climate Change.”

Study authors analyzed forests across the country that could prove most critical in storing carbon pollution and found that Oregon – especially the Cascades and Coast Range – is filled with forests deemed a high priority for protection. The forest waters initiatives aim to protect these carbon-storing forests near waterways across the state, while also protecting our clean water and wildlife.

4. People and groups are getting involved. What’s next?  

Our chief petitioners for the forest waters initiatives are local people who have been directly impacted by industrial logging. Kate Crump is a coastal resident and fishing guide who knows firsthand how industrial logging in Oregon harms drinking water and fish habitat. Micha Elizabeth Gross is co-owner of Myrtle Glen Farms in Coos County, where Oregon’s lax buffers around streams have damaged her drinking source water. Vik Anantha is a conservation advocate and outdoor enthusiast who has seen our coastal forests rapidly converted to industrial tree farms.

Public health and conservation groups from across the state are supporting the effort of local residents to put one of these measures before the voters. Some of the organizations involved are: Beyond Toxics, Cascadia Wildlands, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Native Fish Society, North Coast Communities for Watershed Protection, Oregon Wild, Pacific Rivers, Portland Audubon, and Wild Salmon Center. The petitioners are gearing up to begin the volunteer portion of their signature gathering drive.

We would like your help and involvement! 

We still have a few things to wrap up before we bring the forest waters initiative to the ballot. So far we have met or exceeded the goals we set for ourselves. For example, our:

  • Experiments with signature gathering show we can collect what we need very quickly.
  • Opinion research shows a growing majority of Oregonians support the forest waters initiatives, with 70% in support.
  • Fundraising efforts show major donors are willing to invest in the potential campaign.

We are working now to line up your group, your members, and individual volunteers to be prepared with petitions to help gather signatures. We will be ready to go just as soon as the Supreme Court challenge is completed.

Here’s how you can help.

Please make a pledge to collect signatures to qualify our measures for the ballot!  We need 112,020 valid signatures (and a cushion to be safe), and you or your group can help! We can provide the signature sheets and training to your teams, and we will take the sheets when complete and validate the signatures and conduct the turn-in.

We need you to make our goal! Can you commit to collecting 1,000 signatures? How about 2,500? Send us an email to let us know if you can help gather signatures.

We value your input 

The forest waters initiatives have been designed with extensive feedback from community organizations, conservation groups, landowners, small family foresters, and neighbors living with the impacts of industrial forestry. As we work to make history by passing the first significant modernization of Oregon’s forest water laws we need your help and your best ideas. Please email us at with your thinking, and we will be in touch!