It was a great final day in Grants Pass, Oregon for the Oregon Stewardship Tour
The Oregon Stewardship Tour wrapped up Saturday with its final stop in the upstairs meeting room at the Haul restaurant in Grants Pass, Oregon. 14 people attended the talk, including 7 volunteers from the Southern Oregon chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). The CCL volunteers included Susan Bizeau, the founding member and first Group Leader of Southern Oregon CCL, Sherrill Rinehart, the current Group Leader of southern Oregon CCL, and Forrest Roth, who organized this Grant Pass event.
Seven people from the nearby area to Grants Pass attended. These attendees came from places such as Gold Hill, Williams, Cave Junction, and Grants Pass. Sherrill Rinehart started off the event with asking the participants to share the local impacts they have seen with climate change. The group mentioned observations such as:
- More forest fires and smoke
- More extreme temperatures
- Taller grass (when you have a wetter winter such as 2016-17, it can spur more growth of taller grasses which could provide more fuel for forest fires)
- Fish populations going down as it is getting tough on salmon with rising temperatures in the Southern Oregon rivers and creeks.
- More water when it rains causing more flooding. Sometimes those events are known as “rain bombs” or “wet microbursts”. The low atmosphere has been warming for decades due to climate change. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor. Thus, the rain can come very suddenly and quickly over a U.S. city or area:
The audience gave other climate change observations, such as:
- Change in the tree species. Susan Bizeau gave the example that all of the birch trees in the Rogue Valley are no longer here, possibly due in part to rising temperatures.
- Pinebark beetles attacking more trees out west because the winters are trending warmer and mild. Long, cold, and snowy winters are what traditionally kept mountain pine beetles in check in U.S. western forests.
- Concern about the unhealthy air from the increased and more intense wildfires aggregating asthma or even causing asthma. The unhealthy air from forest fires mentioned a bigger health threat for infants as they are developing their lungs.
- A reduction in biodiversity, with concerns about a lack of public knowledge or understanding of it. Unfortunately, that could lead to a collapse of certain fragile ecosystems.
- No deep water aquifer for the Rogue Valley. Timing of water is vital for residents and farmers in the Rogue Valley. For example, if it is a heavy snowfall winter but warm temperatures in the spring, the spring runoff could be released for downstream water too soon, making it hard to have enough water available in late summer.
After this discussion, Brian gave his climate change talk on how he has witnessed climate change working at Crater Lake National Park for the past 25 years. Then, he shared his favorite solution to reduce the threat of change: CCL’s carbon fee and dividend proposal.
During Brian’s talk, the audience asked excellent questions, such as:
- Exactly how will the dividend checks be administered to every American household?
- Why not take the revenue from the fee created to tax fossil fuels and use that money to invest in green businesses and entrepreneurs?
- Shouldn’t we protect and manage Oregon’s forests better since they are natural sinks absorbing carbon dioxide, including our carbon emissions?
Great interaction with an audience that seemed to be positively connecting with the presentation. For the first time on the tour, it was announced, “Can we have 10 minutes to write on one of the postcards provided or constituent comment forms to send a message for Rep. Greg Walden, Sen. Ron Wyden, and Sen. Jeff Merkley?” The room got almost silent as nearly everyone in the room started writing to their members of Congress.
I had not seen this coordinated effort to fill out comment forms to their members of Congress at any of the previous 8 talks during the tour. People had filled out sign up sheets, postcards to Walden, and constituent common forms in all of the previous tour stops. However, it was very inspiring and a wonderful way to end the Oregon Stewardship by Tour with this coordinated and thoughtful method.