Most Oregonians think of our state forests as places to camp, fish, hike, and picnic with family and friends. We go to state forests in search of old growth trees and hiking trails along pristine streams. The reality is different: State forests are primarily used for industrial timber production.
On August 13th in Nehalem, Lisa Arkin, Executive Director of Eugene, Oregon nonprofit Beyond Toxics will present information from the organization’s recent research on Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) state forest management, exposing a pervasive use of aerial herbicide sprays.

Timber harvests are carried out using the Forest Practices Act, the same rules that govern private timber corporations like Weyerhaeuser, and “timber taxes” generated from cutting on state forests is divvied up among county, city and junior taxing districts…leading decision makers to turn a blind eye to the devastation and poisoning of watersheds that serve our communities.

Beyond Toxics found that ODF authorizes aerial herbicide sprays in domestic drinking watersheds serving residential users and municipal drinking water systems.
State documents show that over a four-year period, more than 14,800 acres of the Tillamook State Forest were sprayed with herbicides. The vast majority, approximately 70 percent of these acres, were aerially sprayed with herbicides. The other 30 percent of the acres received ground sprays. Tank mixes of 3-5 chemicals included glyphosate, metsulfuron methyl, aminopyralid, imazapyr, sulfometuron methyl plus multiple chemical additives.

The frequency of herbicide sprays and the lack of policies to protect public safety and drinking water quality led Beyond Toxics to recommend legislative action. If Oregonians share the value of clean and abundant water from healthy forests, then keeping pesticides out of drinking water should be one of the State’s public health priorities.

For more information see: Oregon’s Department of Forestry Sprays Herbicides in Protected Drinking Watershed By Laurie Bernstein and Lisa Arkin.

Arkin’s presentation is another in the series, “Speaking Truth to Power” presented by the North Coast Communities for Watershed Protection, formerly known as Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection. These events, always free and open to the public, take place the second Tuesday of most months at 6:00 p.m. at North County Recreation District, 36155 9th St. in Nehalem. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for a “Meet and Greet” with light refreshments and music from singer/songwriter Brandon Tigner.

Rockaway Beach Citizens for Watershed Protection started in 2011 when a group of neighbors in Rockaway Beach, Oregon watched as the Jetty Creek watershed, the source of their drinking water, was clear cut logged at an alarming rate and then aerial-sprayed with pesticides. In the last decade, about 90% of that watershed has been clear cut, causing highly detrimental effects to the drinking water and natural habitat. The organization has now grown to represent other communities up and down the North Coast of Oregon that face similar difficulties; therefore, our new name, North Coast Communities for Watershed Protection, reflects our working together on a regional basis to insure that the air we breathe and the water we drink are safe.