Reflections from the Community: Clover Road

September 28-30, 2015
My daughter Eliza and I joined the hikers for day 8 and 9 from Spencer Creek to the Pacific Crest Trail.  We had a blast bringing along some additional food items--cooking s'mores on the camp stove and veggies straight from our garden for a camp rice stir fry--for example!  We arrived just after Genie, Turtle, Emmalyn and Em ambled into camp on Friday afternoon with their daunting looking packs and blistered feet. Together we reveled in the quiet of the forest with only the slow murmur of nearby Spencer Creek.  Em and Emmalyn snagged me for an interview by the stream before the sun got too low, and it was fun sharing with them the historical documents I'd come across while doing research on this section of Clover Creek road, located in the shadow of Mountain Lakes Wilderness between Keno and Lake of the Woods. 
For my family, this journey began in 2005, when we bought a piece of cut over timber ground a little over a mile from our Friday night camp spot on Spencer Creek. Little did we know within a few months of that purchase, we would receive notice of a proposed import LNG pipeline that would set us on a course to meet hundreds of people determined, like us, to make a difference in what in 2011 became Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector's flip flop plan to export liquefied natural gas(LNG) through the same crazy 36" pipe.  
The good side of this story is that the twists and turns of 10 years of fighting an unwanted pipeline, succeeded in bringing Eliza and me out to spend a few precious hours with these awesome Hike the Pipe travelers--each of us having our own powerful reason to be in that magical place walking through Winema National Forest old growth trees. For myself, I like imagining what this beautiful Spencer creek was like 100 years ago; the documented 30" salmon traveling up the Creek reaches to spawn is one of the thoughts to cross my mind.  What many of us have been working towards for years, through restoration projects such as planting riparian vegetation, is the return of the salmon to their once former glory in these waters. 
As we walked the ~7 miles along Clover Creek road on Saturday, day 8 of Hike the Pipe, it was hard not to feel the energy and steadfastness wisdom of the trees; firmly rooted in the same place.  Many of these trees predate the arrival of pioneers that braved the trek west.  If we could see with those hundreds of year old eyes and roots, perhaps the fantastical notion of running a high pressure pipeline through this terrain, across our home, creating havoc and bringing catastrophic threat for the next how many years?--would become obvious.   Threat from mixing man-made products with earthquake, wind, fire and water will alter the landscape and devalue every property in its path.  Having given this topic much thought, I'm hoping that someone can perhaps explain to me how Veresen, a company from Calgary, Canada, can be given the privilege of paying a pittance for a 95 foot right of way, that would permanently, compromise 400 waterways and devalue more than 300 properties across 232 miles of Oregon--all to benefit their private company shareholders. Really?  If anyone should ask, I don't want their money.  I want the solitude, trees, and ecosystems I thought I was buying. The $2000 we were offered for a permanent scar and high pressure explosive in our back yard is highway robbery considering this export pipeline, (assuming FERC gives permission), grants Veresen the use of eminent domain.  I just love that...Let's export gas to Asia so that we can raise natural gas prices in the United States, and call that a public benefit while the stockholders of a private greed company make a profit and we Oregonians pay the price.   
As I was walking along with Turtle and Emmalyn, I am increasingly mindful of what an incredible state we live in.  We have water, mountains, trees, air...(Okay, it was smokey air on Friday!) but, then it rained Saturday morning. The air cleared, and I was left more certain than ever that together we can stop this nightmare of a plan, which on top of every other reason, would contribute significantly to climate change.  Interestingly, Oregon is blessed to have sun, wind, geothermal and waves--all clean energy that, with the same shareholder investment as Jordan Cove/Pacific Connector, would yield up to 17 times the number of jobs, significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time, reduce the current threat to untold fishing, agriculture, timber and recreational tourism industries currently experiencing decline in Oregon due to shifting climate, wide spread drought and wildfires run amok. 
We rolled into camp and wrapped up the day, joined by my husband, Ron, and a few additional support crew with lots of great food and tired muscles, appreciative of the days offerings.  In the morning, we were treated to a superb scrambled egg breakfast, prepared by Pablo, from Eugene, and began greeting the community members who came to join in and hike for a day!

We circled up and each shared why we were there--a testament to the conviction and passion felt by the collective that this project would take us in the wrong direction and should be stopped at all costs. If it's jobs we are after, we can do much better than this proposal and if it's change that is needed to the business-as-usual big oil, gas, coal industries, we must stand up together and SAY NO!  There is a better way to protect that which we cherish and build a sustainable future that doesn't lock us in to destruction.  My favorite image of Day 9 was some protesters standing in front of a tremendous 6 foot diameter Douglas Fir tree just inside the 95 foot wide cut zone. Some how this tree and the people there to bear witness to its presence etched in my mind as a final rallying point that some things are better left as they are.  I am reminded of the Nature is Speaking video series which proclaims: "NATURE DOESN'T NEED PEOPLE. PEOPLE NEED NATURE.".  My hope is that we wake up to this understanding.  Turtle, Emmalyn, Em, Genie and Barry...thanks for letting Eliza and me tag along with you for 2 days.  We look forward to seeing many of you in Shady Cove on Sept. 5th for the next community event and invite everyone to COME JOIN IN THE FUN and meet these incredible hikers!  

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