There are signs popping up all over the county declaring “stop environmental extremists,” and “vote no” on the Home Rule Charter. Recently, Roseburg Forest Products company made false declarations regarding Umpqua Watersheds on its company website.
We feel the need to respond. Umpqua Watersheds is a nonprofit organization. We are legally limited in our involvement with political initiatives. On the RFP employee website, Umpqua Watersheds is accused of fabricating the charter with other “left wing” groups. I see no truth on the RFP website. For the record, I have no idea who put the charter together. It wasn’t us.
Another reason to respond is related to alarmist name-calling. The anti-charter signs popping up around Douglas County seem everywhere. They declare, “Stop Environmental Extremists.” Connecting the dots on the RFP page with the anti-charter signs, they indicate that Umpqua Watersheds is an environmental extremist organization. We at Umpqua Watersheds take offense at the term.
Umpqua Watersheds has attempted to find a balanced promotion of ecological conservation and restoration for years. We have been involved in collaborative efforts to resolve the issues facing our watershed ecosystems and community needs. For the decade or so that I have been on the organization’s board, I have clocked untold hundreds of hours and thousands of miles of travel by our board and membership who have attended meetings interacting with the stakeholders interested in watershed matters to find common ground and base actions upon that common ground we share.
Umpqua Watersheds is also a restoration ecology organization. For years, we have had a seat on the watershed council, resource advisory councils and diverse collaboratives. Recently we gave full support of the Elk Creek Restoration Project in the Tiller Ranger District. Once convinced of its ecological benefits, we actively pursued the support of the various watchdog conservation organizations. Sixty-million board feet of timber will be removed from the watershed as a result of this restoration work and provided to local mills. Would environmental extremists do that?
We are an inclusive organization and with a deep desire to seek equity in our communities. I currently serve as president and have been with the organization since 2009. I’m 70 years old. I volunteered for the Army and served from age 17-20. During my service, I spent one and a half years on Okinawa and then went to the Vietnam War. My wife of 42 years and I have made our living off of ranching. As a deeply dedicated Christian, I have been considered by many to be very conservative. I vote as an Independent on issues rather than lockstep to any political party. As a young man I have been a logger, worked in lumber mills and spent five years of my life working in a hard rock molybdenum mine. I’ve always sought to love God with all of my heart and to love my neighbor as myself.
My involvement with Umpqua Watersheds is based on respect for the creation. The wisdom of maintaining clean air, fresh water and a healthy landscape for human good, and the good of all God’s creatures requires good stewardship. Revelation 11:18 says that God will destroy those who destroy the Earth. I believe it. I’m not an environmental extremist.
My story is not unique when it comes to Umpqua Watersheds. Our board and our membership are as diverse as the communities of the Umpqua will provide.
We work together and tolerate each other for the common good regardless of sex, race or creed. We are dedicated to minimizing the harm that blind greed engenders in our watersheds. We base our vision and mission on sound science and a hope for a better community. Put simply, we love nature and want to give it a chance to continue. Science, knowledge and wisdom are our guiding lights. It seems that anyone acknowledging the environmental havoc revealed by diminished fish runs, polluted river systems and barren clear-cut hills is labeled an “environmental extremist” here in Douglas County. Sad.
Habitat degradation is a hard fact in the world we live in. We truly believe there is a better way. We want to find real answers to the problems we as a society have created. Not all environmentalists are “lefties.” I sincerely believe that those who are promoting these falsities know it. Either that or they are purposefully deluding themselves to justify the ongoing degradation of our world.
Please don’t be misguided by the subtle falsities regarding us and the charter. We did not create the charter initiative. If the Home Rule Charter will help us get past the polarized status quo, then we at Umpqua Watersheds are all for it.