Jack and Jane Anderson moved from northern Idaho to the north coast of Oregon 12 years ago to retire.
“We always thought north Idaho was one of those backwards places that had no environmental laws, and Oregon was such a wonderful, green place, and we were going to a place where our water would be much cleaner and we’d be safer,” Jane said. “We were shocked to find out that we were better protected in Idaho.”
They lived on 20 acres in the woods in Idaho, adjacent to private forests, and moved to Garibaldi, near Tillamook. They first became aware there was a serious problem 15 months ago.
“We were walking our dogs a year ago July, in the woods, and we noticed signs about a company planning to spray pesticides some time between July 1 and July 31. First of all, I don’t want pesticides sprayed in my watershed, and then to have it open for a month, it could happen any time. People walk in the woods. It seemed not right,” Jack said.
Garibaldi is one of the rare towns on the coast that uses well water not surface water, meaning their water is safer than others. But the aerial pesticide spraying, clearcutting, and muddy streams bothered them.
They called the state for answers, and found them hard to find. Most people answering the phones didn’t have all of the information, because departments are siloed – fish are managed in one, water and air another, forests yet another. “They’ve split and divided them all up so much that nobody has any power to do anything,” Jack said.
Jane calls it a “structured lack of accountability in the agencies.”
They were pleased to be part of Pacific Rivers’ and Shane Anderson’s new movie, Behind the Emerald Curtain, to draw attention to the matter. “Just the title itself. That’s exactly the problem we have here: people don’t get out of their cars, they don’t walk the half mile into the woods, they really do think Oregon is such a green state. To just see the aerial views I think is going to be a wakeup call. This is out of control,” Jack said.
Jack and Jane have become activists seeking comprehensive reform of the Oregon Forest Practices Act for their own health, the health of their friends and neighbors, and their grandchildren. “People need to understand that the results on our children are going to be devastating. It has to stop. It is out of control,” Jane said.