A View of the Summit – Spring 2019
In this issue of a View of the Summit, Ralph Bloemers provides an update on efforts to protect community drinking water sources and wildlife habitat through improved forest laws. Anu Sawkar, who joined our legal team in January, shares insight from the fight against Jordan Cove Energy Project’s proposed gas export facility in Coos Bay. Ka’sha Bernard highlights the impacts of the shortsighted proposal for freeway expansion in northeast Portland. And Oliver Stiefel shares his perspective on the victory in the Ochoco National Forest and what it means for Central Oregon. In all of this work, our staff bring not only the legal expertise, but also open minds and creativity to find outside-the-box solutions. With your support, we help our clients build collective power and drive positive change in our communities and landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2018
In this issue of A View of the Summit, we profile some of the cutting edge work Crag Law Center has pioneered over the last decade in an effort to protect our local communities from the fossil fuel industry. Maura Fahey discusses a recent court victory defending the City of Portland’s landmark ordinance limiting new fossil fuel infrastructure from a Constitutional attack. Ralph Bloemers profiles victories over three LNG facilities, including the Jordan Cove proposal, which would be responsible for up to 30 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Scott Hilgenberg talks about our long-running work to protect world-class farmland in the Columbia River valley from being converted to industrial port land for the fossil fuel industry. Chris Winter profiles a new case in Anacortes, Washington involving a $400 million expansion of an oil refinery along the shores of the Salish Sea. And Carrie Clore introduces our newest board member, Aurora del Val.
A View of the Summit – Summer 2017
This issue of a View from the Summit spotlights the voices of our 2017 summer associates, our Duke Engage intern and our high school intern. Following a career as a biologist, Jen Calkins now studies law at the University of Washington. She writes about Crag’s involvement in the federal youth climate case, which has been hailed as the “trial of the century.” A law student at Notre Dame, Ka’sha Bernard reflects on the ongoing fight in the Columbia Gorge to protect Oregon’s public spring water from being bottled and sold by Nestlé. Mark Tuai is a law student at Lewis & Clark and was referred to Crag by our clients The Native Fish Society. Mark writes about Crag’s work to protect the endangered Oregon Coast coho salmon. Rachel Meche is a law student at Vermont Law School and an an advocate for sustainable water practices. She writes about Crag’s ongoing work to ensure that wildlife habitat, rather than leaseland agriculture, is given priority in the Klamath National Wildlife Refuges. Elizabeth Allen joined us through the DukeEngage program. She reflects on the destructive impacts of ORVs in natural areas and the value of preserving wild places for quiet recreation and wildlife. David Edelman is a high school student at Catlin Gabel School and he reflects on his summer at Crag.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2017
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve long prided ourselves on being at the forefront of the environmental movement. We’ve built sustainable cities and preserved open space. We’ve protected farm and forestland and turned to clean sources of energy. So engrained is the environmental movement, this region has even developed a unique name symbolic of our shared ecological values: Cascadia. Our work, however, is far from finished.
A new administration is set on reversing global climate action and depriving communities of basic environmental rights. Decisionmaking in Washington D.C. is intractable; any hopes for comprehensive change at the federal level tragically are on hold. We have our work cut out for us, but we have powerful tools at our disposal to affect meaningful change. We seek justice, and it starts with local, grassroots activism.
In this edition of A View From the Summit, you’ll read about Crag’s efforts to address global issues here at the local level, and about opportunities for you to get involved.
A View of the Summit – 15th Anniversary Report – Fall 2016
In 2016, Crag marked our 15th Anniversary of practicing legal aid for the environment. Ralph Bloemers & Chris Winter founded Crag Law Center in 2001 after working for a few years for a large, private law firm. They hatched a plan to put their shared values towards making a positive impact on the world and took a deep breath and quit the firm. In a few short months, they found ourselves in court fighting old-growth timber sales, battling for Wilderness on the North side of Mt. Hood, and protecting clean water and salmon.
Over the next ten years, they grew the organization, brought on new staff, and dove into some fascinating and incredibly challenging work. With this special 15th Anniversary edition of our newsletter, we take a look at our work over the years and the impact we have made since our founding in 2001. You also get to know Crag’s co-founders Ralph Bloemers and Chris Winter through profile pieces written by summer intern Jordan Bollmann.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2016
In this edition of our newsletter, you’ll learn about our continued work protecting the North Side of Mt. Hood, which was one of our very first cases back in 2001. You’ll also read about our work protecting the incredible rainforests of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, recent victories over liquefied natural gas projects in Oregon, and an update on our work with members of a senior housing community who have struggled for years with the effects from an illegal asphalt batch plant in Southern Oregon.
Also included is an update on the unfolding air toxics crisis in Portland and recent changes at the Department of Environmental Quality.
A View of the Summit – Special Edition Winter 2015
Over the past fourteen years of fighting to protect the Pacific Northwest’s natural legacy we have gotten to know and work alongside many wonderful people. One of our earliest collaborators and inspirations was also one of the greatest advocates for Oregon’s wild places, Kate McCarthy. We lost Kate this fall at 98 years old, after nearly four decades of fierce and inspirational advocacy. Kate was the conscience of Mt. Hood, and she will be deeply missed. Kate taught us to respect, treasure and protect our alpine gem and all the special places in Oregon. We will continue to carry the torch for Mt. Hood, because as she said “There is no right way to do the wrong thing.” In this special edition of our newsletter, we highlight our work over the past year.
A View of the Summit – Fall 2015
In this issue of A View of the Summit you will find stories of some of Crag’s current work to protect a few of the iconic wild places of the Pacific Northwest. You’ll learn about our ongoing efforts to protect the north side of Mt. Hood, a local treasure that has played a central role in Crag’s work since our beginning. You’ll get a first glimpse at our work on behalf of the Nez Perce Tribe to restore wildlife and fish habitat and watershed health along the Willamette River to mitigate for decades of harmful human activities along the Portland Harbor. We also share updates on our work to protect the Columbia River Gorge, including our continued efforts to stop the ill-conceived proposal to give away publicly owned state water rights to Nestlé to be put in plastic bottles and sold out-of-state.You’ll also learn alarming news about the wolves of the Tongass National Forest and Crag’s efforts to protect the old growth temperate rainforest and endemic species of our nation’s largest national forest. These are stories of just a few of the wild places where we love to play and will fight to protect. Our connection to these wild places guides our work, but more importantly, roots our sense of place.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2015
The Spring 2015 View of a Summit focuses on Crag’s work to protect one of our most precious resources – water. You’ll learn about Crag’s work to combat industrial stormwater pollution and to ensure scientific integrity of the water-quality impacts of the Oregon LNG pipeline connector project. We share our thoughts on retooling the Oregon Forest Practices Act to guarantee that our drinking water is protected from harmful herbicides. We also share findings from a new climate report detailing alarming threats for a cherished central Oregon stream and introduce you to a scientist who has dedicated his career to protecting our region’s aquatic ecosystems.
A View of the Summit – Fall 2014
The Fall 2014 View of a Summit focuses on Crag’s work in local communities to protect special places in our collective backyard. From protecting an elderly community from the impacts of industrial asphalt production, to shielding property owners from illegal pesticide spray on their lands, to ensuring that farmers along the Columbia River do not lose their land to industrial zoning, Crag is working with community members to uphold environmental safeguards that protect all of our rights.
The Spring 2014 View of the Summit focuses on Crag’s work to protect the diverse wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. In this issue of A View of the Summit you will read about the work we are doing to protect the butterflies and other wildlife that add to the tapestry of life in the wild places we love.
The Fall 2013 View of the Summit lays out the breadth and diversity of Crag’s work. Our current cases range from protecting bugs like the Island Marble Butterfly in the San Juan Islands, to the natural systems on which aquatic life depend like the rare caddisfly and steelhead in the West Fork of the Salmon and Still Creek on Mt. Hood’s south slopes. From the old growth forests of the Prince of Wales Islands in the Tongass National Forest of Southeast Alaska to the courtrooms of United States Supreme Court, our attorneys and law student interns continually face fresh challenges that drive us to learn and grow in our understanding of the law and our natural systems.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2013 – Focus on the Columbia Gorge
The Spring 2013 issue of A View of the Summit focuses on Crag’s work to protect the natural wonders, resources and communities of the Columbia River Gorge. Learn about our work to challenge proposed coal export facilities along the Columbia River and to stop Nestlé’s plans to bottle and sell Oregon’s public spring water. You’ll also find an update on what happened at the Supreme Court and a profile of long-time Crag volunteer & supporter, Mitch Turker.
A View of the Summit – Fall/Winter 2012 – On to New Horizons
Inside this issue of A View of the Summit, you can read up on the Supreme Court case, which was argued on December 3rd in Washington, DC. You can also learn about our work using the Clean Water Act to protect Tumalo Creek in Central Oregon and the Coos Bay watershed in Southwestern Oregon, as well as our work on old-growth forests and climate change.
In this issue of A View of the Summit you’ll read about Crag’s continuing work to protect Oregon’s coastal forests as well as our work on climate change and energy policy here in Oregon. You’ll hear about a case to stop logging of old-growth coastal forest habitat for marbled murrelets, our work to prevent the Columbia River from becoming a coal super-highway, and a project to help protect ocean resources while Oregon explores wave energy.
Crag Cairn – Spring 2012 – Canary in the Old Growth
If there ever was a canary for Oregon’s coastal old-growth forests, it would be the marbled murrelet – a threatened sea bird that requires big old coastal trees for nesting. Sadly, the canary is calling out for help. Marbled murrelet populations continue to decline due in large part to habitat loss. Sadly, Oregon continues to liquidate mature and old-growth coastal forests in Oregon’s Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott state forests that murrelets need to hatch their eggs and increase their numbers.
Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Audubon Society of Portland called upon Crag to help them save the marbled murrelet and the amazing old trees in the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott forests. It turns out that the State is authorizing logging in and around areas that marbled murrelets use for nesting. This results in harm to the birds and their habitat, or an unlawful “take” in Endangered Species Act lingo. On January 19, 2012, with Crag’s help, these organizations threatened to sue under the federal Endangered Species Act unless the State of Oregon agrees to prepare a conservation plan for the birds. Stay tuned to crag.org and our facebook page for updates on this matter and how you can help save Oregon’s canary in the old-growth.
A View of the Summit – Fall 2011 –
Celebrating 10 Years of the Crag Law Center
In the summer of 2002, we sat down to pen our first ever Crag Law Center newsletter. Less than a year earlier, we had left the comforts of a large, private law firm to start our tiny non-profit on a shoestring budget. Our lives had changed, and we tried to capture the personal reasons that motivated us to make that choice. In the introduction to that first newsletter, Chris Winter wrote, “We want to do the work . . . we want to help others.”
Ten years later, Crag has taken on a life of its own with a string of notable victories throughout the Pacific Northwest from Oregon to Alaska. We’ve protected wilderness on Mt. Hood, stopped Royal Dutch Shell from drilling in the Arctic, and preserved thousands of acres of irreplaceable old-growth forest for future generations. Victories do matter, and we have won our fair share of cases. But those victories do not define the impact of the Crag Law Center.
We create change by building community – by combining our skills with the passion, energy and brainpower of other individuals. We work most directly with our clients, but we have also trained hundreds of student volunteers who will someday be our environmental champions. An incredible Board of Directors has partnered with us, challenged us and become our dear friends.
And our donors support us because they feel like we are their lawyers working for the environment. Crag supports the planet, and our community supports Crag. Together, we will continue this important work for another 10 years and beyond.
On behalf of our Board and our hardworking Staff, thank you for believing in the Crag Law Center! As we look to the future, the Pacific Northwest faces many challenges, and we will be there to protect your interests in this amazing place and the interests of your children and grandchildren. If we continue to build a community of people in support of that work, we will succeed.
Crag Cairn – Summer 2011 – Protecting Oregon’s Wild Coast
Crag celebrated with long-time client Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition this summer when the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) rejected approvals for a proposed destination resort on a remote and wild section of the Oregon Coast in Curry County. This area, a few miles north of Brookings, is so isolated that black bears have been seen on the beach—a rarity given extensive human development of our coastal areas.
The proposed project was no small affair— an 18-hole golf course, golf practice facilities, a 9-hole junior golf course, 175 overnight guest rooms, a golf lodge with restaurant, spa lodge, recreation center, and equestrian center. Conservation groups Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, Oregon Coast Alliance, and Kalmiopsis Audubon Society worried that the development would attract trespassers, human and animal alike, to the adjacent National Wildlife Refuge. They also believed the development would exacerbate erosion and groundwater depletion in the area.
After Curry County approved the development, Crag filed an appeal with LUBA on behalf of Oregon Shores. Staff Attorney Courtney Johnson argued that the county failed to analyze the risks from the many existing landslides and steep slopes on the property, failed to adequately protect coastal shorelands, and failed to follow its own code in ensuring that adverse impacts to nearby lands be avoided. LUBA agreed. This project may still move forward eventually, but for now this section of the Oregon Coast will remain wild.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2011 Edition – Celebrating 10 Years
In 2011, the Crag Law Center celebrates our 10th Anniversary, a time for us to reflect on our successes and prepare for the long road ahead. In this issue of the Summit, we focus primarily on our current work, including stories on Grand Island in the Willamette Valley, offshore drilling in the Arctic, and gravel mining on the Rogue River. We also profile two unique and dedicated individuals who are making selfless contributions to the organization: Emily Bartha, a new board member, and Dick Roy, one of our generous donors. At the same time, however, we are taking time to commemorate the history of our organization, and we hope you will join us as we look back and pay tribute to many years of hard work.
Crag Cairn – Fall/Winter 2010 – Fender’s Blue Butterfly
Local citizens in Yamhill County recently contacted the Crag Law Center with concerns that the endangered Fender’s Blue butterfly is being harmed by the application of herbicides and management of roadside areas along county roads in its habitat. Crag has been working with the Xerces Society, Yamhill Watershed Stewardship Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, and individual citizens including members of the Fenders family, to represent their interests and ensure that the application of herbicides and disturbance of roadside areas do not destroy this sensitive species.
A View of the Summit – Fall 2010 Edition – Diggin’ Up Trouble
From coastal and Cascade ranges shrouded in evergreens, to the fertile soils in the valleys, to the thousands of miles of coastline and the rich marine life it supports, the natural wealth of the Pacific Northwest is obvious to residents and visitors alike. For centuries humans have capitalized on these bounties through harvests of timber, fisheries, and agriculture. This summer a lesser-known natural resource industry— mining—has attracted public attention. Long standing concerns over in-stream gravel mining, worries of a new gold rush in Oregon, and a recently approved strip mine in Coos County have raised the profile of mining in the Northwest and captured the attention of those who seek to protect our natural resources for future generations.
Crag Cairn – Summer 2010 – Crag Works to Protect Artic from Offshore Drilling
The ongoing drama in the Gulf has ignited the national debate about offshore drilling and blown to bits the fallacy that drilling is safe for the environment. As BP and other oil companies work overtime to limit the damage to their reputations, the country’s attention has turned increasingly towards the Arctic Ocean where the Obama Administration has decided to allow even more offshore drilling. We here at Crag have been working on Arctic drilling issues since 2007 and now find ourselves in the middle of this national debate.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2010 Edition – Protecting Our Oceans
Many of Crag’s clients are working to protect our oceans from numerous threats, including ocean acidification, oil and gas exploration/drilling, and degraded water quality caused by poor land use decisions. In this issue of A View of the Summit, we highlight the work that we are doing to protect and preserve our oceans. This edition features articles discussing policy changes facing Oregon’s ocean waters, including a moratorium on off-shore oil drilling and information about wave energy. The nuts and bolts of ocean acidification are explained, and we give readers a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a community facing the daunting task of responding to an onslaught of proposals for oil and gas exploration. This edition also takes a look at Oregon’s Eastside Forests, and highlights Board Member Jessica Burness.
A View of the Summit – Fall 2009 Edition – Persistence Pays Off
Since 2001, Crag has worked tirelessly to preserve public lands, protect clean water and ensure justice for communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. In this edition of A View of the Summit we highlight a case where our persistence has paid off. After two court challenges, Crag and client Rosemere Neighborhood Association won a landmark environmental justice case involving the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and exposed a pattern of delay within the Environmental Protection Agency’s Civil Rights Division. Also in this edition, a summer intern describes the removal of Hemlock Dam on Trout Creek in Washington, we outline logging issues as they relate to climate change and update readers about the ongoing planning process on the Harbor Hills on Oregon’s Southern Coast.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2009 Edition- Focusing On Our Clients
The Crag Law Center provides services to clients on a wide range of issues affecting the earth’s natural systems and community livability. This issue highlights Crag’s work with the Gifford Pinchot Task Force to protect old growth forests in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Crag’s collaboration with the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition on the Coastal Law Project to protect Oregon’s coastal and ocean environments. Crag’s relationships with these organizations illustrates our commitment to supporting grassroots clients and their mission and serve as good examples of how Crag’s work empowers clients to have even greater impacts on the communities and resources of the Pacific Northwest. The issue also features articles on Crag’s work to protect the Tongass National Forest in Southeastern Alaska, the lessons learned from Measure 37 and the recent passage of the Mount Hood Wilderness Bill. This issue also introduces new staff attorney Tanya Sanerib.
A View of the Summit – Fall 2008 Edition- Environmental Justice
The Crag Law Center launched its environmental justice initiative less than three years ago. Crag now represents groups throughout Oregon, Washington and Alaska on cutting edge and high-profile work to ensure justice for all people. This issue focuses on Crag’s work for native Alaskans on the North Slope who are battling Royal Dutch Shell over plans to drill offshore in their traditional subsistence hunting and fishing grounds. For thousands of years, the Inupiat people have hunted bowhead whales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The Inupiats way of life and diet are tied to the whale, and the people have managed to sustain themselves and healthy populations of whales for centuries. Staff Attorney Chris Winter has been working closely with the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, the Inupiat Communities of the Artic Slope and local conservation groups to ensure that their interests are not ignored by the Mineral Management Service. This issue also contains articles written by our summer interns about the other work we are doing in our Public Lands Program, Coastal Law Project and our Livable Communities Program.
A View of the Summit – Summer 2007 Edition- Seeing the Forest for the Trees
The Crag Law Center has been working with a diverse set of conservation groups on a great variety of issues since its founding in 2001. Diversity is the key to life, and, likewise, we have taken diverse approaches to problem-solving for our clients. This issue of the Summit contains articles about Ralph Bloemers’ efforts on the Federal Forestland Advisory Committee to find common ground in the battle over the future of Oregon’s public lands. This issue contains an article about a recent win that the Crag Law Center obtained for the Lands Council, the Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Wild and the Sierra Club in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On behalf of these groups, the Crag Law Center challenged the Forest Service’s plans to conduct a massive post-fire logging operation in an area of the the Umatilla National Forest burned by wildfire, and won.
A View of the Summit – Winter 2006 Edition- A Legacy For Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood is a special place for many Oregonians, our alpine gem. For centuries, people in the NW have lived by the mountain. In the late 1800s, people began to ski, climb and hike on the North side of the mountain. The first Wilderness was designated soon after the Wilderness Act was passed. For the past century local residents in Hood River and Sandy have farmed the land below her flanks. Hood River County is the most productive pear farming valley in the entire United States. For the past five years, the Crag Law Center has assisted a diverse group of local residents, recreation clubs like the Oregon Nordic Club and the Mazamas, conservation groups like the Friends of Mt. Hood, the Oregon Natural Resources Council, BARK, Portland Audubon and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club to advance their vision for the mountain. In 2006, Congressmen Blumenauer and Walden hiked around the mountain, held a public hearing in December, and then introduced legislation to protect special places around the mountain. This issue of the summit discusses their proposal and the work that led to this historic settlement. For more information, visit our Public Land Program page and click on Cascade Peaks Protection.
A View of the Summit – Summer 2005 Edition
The Oregon Coast is home to Sebastes Melanops, a black rock fish that lurks in the depths of Tillamook Bay. The Crag Law Center is assisting local residents seeking to protect Tillamook Bay and the Miami River that flows into it from a gravel mine expansion. We are also working with local residents in Tierra Del Mar to protect the Sand Lake estuary from a proposed destination resort and golf course development. The area is home to diverse species of fish and wildlife. This issue of the Summit also talks about our recent successes on Mt. Hood, the Deschutes River and in the Malheur National Forest.
A View of the Summit – Winter 2004/2005 Edition
The Strawberry Mountains are in the rugged eastern part of Oregon and these lands are home to the bull trout, mountain lions, bears, goshawk and pileated woodpeckers. Late in 2004, a whistleblower emerged from the forest to report that the Forest Service had claimed that hundreds of old growth trees near the Wilderness were being logged under the Healthy Forest Initiative. The claim was that these trees were dead or dying, but the reality on the ground was that the fire claimed little trees and left just enough dead trees for the woodpeckers and other birds that thrive on them. This issue of the Summit tells those stories, and also provides a look at the economics of watershed protection. The Crystal Springs watershed is a key drinking watershed in Hood River County and the watershed is threatened by development. This Summit also contains articles about our work on pesticide free parks in Portland, the abuse of science by federal agencies, and the launch of our environmental justice initiative.
A View of the Summit – Spring 2004 Edition- Hood River Watershed
The Hood River flows from the east, west and northern flanks of Mt. Hood through old growth forests and one of the richest pear farming valleys in the world. The north side is home to wildlife and the Crystal Springs watershed. This issue of the Summit explores the impacts of potential development on the watershed, wildlife and way of life in the valley. The edition also contains an introduction by Chris Winter, an article about recent changes at the federal level to a forest plan standard designed to protect aquatics and a piece about a highlighted volunteer.
A View of the Summit – Summer 2003 Edition- A Tribute to Mt. Hood
Are you interested in reading about Mt. Hood Meadows plans to pave paradise and put up a parking lot? How about learning what the public did not know about Hood River County’s decision to trade away its watershed for peanuts to a real estate developer?
In this issue, key evidence was obtained through discovery of documents in a challenge to a sweetheart land deal that the County completed with Mt. Hood Meadows. The 158 families in the Hood River Valley Residents Committee, a local citizens’ organization that is seeking to protect the historic north side of Mt. Hood, brought the challenge. The Crag Law Center also represents BARK, the Friends of Mt. Hood, the Mazamas, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, Oregon Wildlife Federation, the Friends of Tilly Jane, the Oregon Natural Resources Council and the Hood River Valley Residents Committee on a challenge to a logging project that the Forest Service claims will reduce the risk of fire. This issue of the Summit describes the legal issues with this project, as well as the current fire hysteria that is gripping the west.
This issue of the Summit is dedicated to the local residents and all Oregonians who enjoy Mt. Hood. The elk traversing the last remaining east-west migratory corridor do not care whether the massive development built in the way has low-flush eco-friendly toilets in mauve or taupe, and, we hope, neither does the public!
A View of the Summit – Winter 2002-2003 Edition- Inaugural Edition
Crag’s inaugural issue starts with an opening statement from Chris Winter describing why we created the Crag Law Center. This issue contains articles about our work to protect the threatened bull trout in the headwaters of the Willamette River, as well as our successful effort to challenge ecologically unsound post-fire salvage projects in Eastern, Oregon.