Siletz River Takes Legal Action to Defend Its Rights
July 24th, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
541 574 2961; cell 541 961 6385
cell 541 961 5606
Newport, Oregon: This afternoon the Siletz River Ecosystem filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit Rex Capri and Wakefield Farms, LLC v. Dana W. Jenkins and Lincoln County, and Lincoln County Community Rights. This is the third ecosystem in the United States to take legal action to protect its rights, secured in this case by Measure 21-177, which was adopted by Lincoln County voters in the May 2017 election.
The two plaintiffs – Rex Capri of Newport and Wakefield Farms of Eddyville – claim that their “right” to spray toxic pesticides aerially is greater than the right of the people of Lincoln County to protect public health, clean water, and the rights of ecosystems and natural communities not to be poisoned from the air.
Lincoln County Community Rights (LCCR) was granted intervention in the case on July 2, 2017, after the county made it clear that their interest lies merely in getting an opinion from the court and not in actively defending the law adopted by voters in May.
“I have lived in Lincoln County for 43 years in a home surrounded by river and forest. I am part of the ecosystems of Lincoln County,” says Carol Van Strum, advocate for the intervention of the Siletz Ecosystem. “The Declaration of Independence itself asserts that the laws of nature pre-empt human law. Like the Lorax, I speak for the rights of waters and forests and wildlife to challenge human violations of natural law.”
For the first time, the Siletz ecosystem and all Lincoln County natural communities and ecosystems have secured the right to be free from toxic trespass from aerially sprayed pesticides, a right that is essential to ecosystems’ on-going health, function and survival. That right is stated in Section 2(a) of Measure 21-177 or the Freedom from Aerially Sprayed Pesticides Ordinance of Lincoln County.
The Siletz watershed has lost 46% of its forest in the last 16 years. Huge clear-cuts resulting from strip logging abound in the area and have all been aerially sprayed with pesticides multiple times. Barren of vegetation, the steep terrain causes mudslides and pesticide run-off into the river and smaller feeder creeks, posing a major risk of contaminating a major source of drinking water for Lincoln County, and additionally destroying crucial habitat for salmon and steelhead.
Over the last year, high courts in New Zealand, India, and Colombia have recognized rights for rivers as a means of creating a higher standard of protection for those ecosystems. In Ecuador, the federal constitution has recognized rights of nature since 2008, and two different legal cases have affirmed that rivers have rights and that human activity violates those rights. Restitution penalties go to restoring the ecosystem.
“Protecting nature’s rights through law came from rural, conservative Pennsylvania”, says Kai Huschke of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the public interest law firm representing LCCR and the Siletz Ecosystem. “Decades of environmental destruction in Pennsylvania made it a no brainer for folks there to protect – at the highest level – what sustains them. Today over three dozen communities in the United States, including Lincoln County, have stepped forward to secure nature’s rights.”
Though the lawsuit continues to move forward, there is no indication as to how soon the court will respond to the motion to intervene by the Siletz River Ecosystem.
Lincoln County Community Rights is a public benefit organization that seeks to educate and empower people to exercise their right of local community self-government in matters that pertain to their fundamental rights, their natural environment, their quality of life, their health and their safety. Given the harms that people and ecosystems suffer from the practice of aerial spraying of industrial forest land with pesticides, the group drafted an ordinance to ban aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County, Oregon. Measure 21-177 was adopted by voters in May 2017, making Lincoln County the first county in the United States to ban aerial pesticide spraying through the vote of the people.
Measure 21-177, which is also known as the Freedom from Aerially Sprayed Pesticides Ordinance of Lincoln County, secures the rights of people to be free from toxic trespass, the right to clean air, water, and soil, and the right to enjoy outdoor recreation all free from the harm of aerial sprayed pesticides. In addition, the rights of ecosystems and natural communities in Lincoln County are also protected from aerial spray of pesticides.
Lincoln County Bans Aerial Pesticide Spraying
Measure 21-177 increases its lead to 61 votes, winning a highly contested election
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maria Sause Rio Davidson
541 574 2961; cell 541 961 6385 cell 541 961 5606
Newport, Oregon – A majority of voters who returned to sign unsigned ballots approved Measure 21-177, bringing the total vote to 6994 for the ban versus 6933 against it, making the ban on aerial pesticide spraying in Lincoln County a reality. Thanks to the many people who volunteered and campaigned so valiantly, the vast amounts spent by corporate opponents failed to convince voters that profits are more important than health, safety, and the right to informed consent.
By this victory, Lincoln County is the first county in the United States to ban aerial spraying of pesticides by the vote of the people. This is not the first time Lincoln County has spoken truth to power and won.
“Back in 1976, folks here put Lincoln County on the map by winning a huge landmark case against the United States government, stopping federal spraying of Agent Orange on our forests and homes and waterways,” said Susan Parker Swift. “Now Lincoln County has done it again. I couldn’t be prouder to share this repeat victory!”
Barbara Davis, co-petitioner of measure 21-177, says our win brought to her mind the following quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
This election was the first major hurdle Measure 21-177 had to overcome to become a reality. Implementation of the measure, and the obstacles to it that opponents will raise, among them superior “rights” to override the rights of the people, including the people’s right to vote and their constitutional right to safety, are next. Citizens for a Healthy County will continue to meet those challenges, and welcomes all who are willing to join us in the effort.
Citizens for a Healthy County
For more information www.yes-on-21-177.org