Cascadians Float Threatened Section of South Umpqua River to Protest Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline
On June 19, 2015, wilderness defenders, boaters and naturalists, led by Cascadia Forest Defenders, met to put their kayaks and canoes in the water at the precise location that the Pacific Connector LNG pipeline is proposed to cross the South Umpqua River.
With the fight against the LNG pipeline and export terminal heating up, CFD has decided to take a novel approach to protest by leading a flotilla of activists down this threatened section of the South Umpqua. They stretched a banner across the point where the pipeline would be bored underneath the river, then set off on their 12-mile, 2-day float through the waters that would flow downstream of the pipe.
The 230-mile, high-pressure pipeline would cross over 400 rivers and streams on its way to the coast. The river crossings, including those on the South Umpqua, would be bored underneath the river. Horizontal drilling techniques involve heavy machinery and toxic drilling fluids. Crossings would require extensive riparian cutting that would raise the temperatures of rivers that already violate temperature standards for cold water fish.
The coastal Coho salmon, federally endangered due to the presence of dams, logging and drought, would be further impacted by the Pacific Connector Pipeline. “We need to be focusing on ways to restore the Coho and help it to regenerate its vital connection to the broader ecosytems of the Pacific Northwest, not pursuing massive industrial projects that will create a 100-foot corridor of destruction through virtually every watershed in southwestern Oregon,” says Laura Rose of Cascadia Forest Defenders.
Of particular interest to Cascadia Forest Defenders is the 3,000-acre permanent clearcut that would cross 230 miles of Oregon’s forest. This is much bigger than any timber sale, and these trees will not be replanted. Continuous use of poisonous herbicides will be used to maintain the 100-foot-wide cleared area above the pipe. The effect of this pipe on endangered bird species is severe. The homes of 80 endangered spotted owls will be affected, as well as marbled murrelet habitat throughout the coast range.
For all the life affected, human, animal, plant and otherwise, CFD wants to see industrial projects of this size out of our state. “We believe that the best way to learn about a place is to experience with your own five senses. By seeing the place that the pipeline crosses the river, by swimming in the water, by hearing the birds and the frogs, we are becoming more dedicated to protecting our ecosystems and better prepared to fight this pipeline,” says Erin Grady of Cascadia Forest Defenders.
On June 20, at the end of the float in Winston, Cascadia Forest Defenders held a picnic for local activists and affected landowners. Fun was had by all!