Efforts to save Waldo Lake may be paying off for clean water enthusiasts and lovers of Oregon’s lakes and forests. A bill has passed in both the Senate and House in the Oregon Leglislature that would ban float planes from landing on the lake. Removing polluting motors from the pristine lake has been a conentious issue with efforts by the Forest Service, conservationists and others fought at every step. The bill now gets sent to Gov. John Kitzhaber to sign into law.
Here is the info from the Sierra Club:
Oregon Legislature Protects Waldo Lake
Passes Law Banning Motorboats and Sea Planes on one of the purest lakes in the World
(SALEM, OR) —Voting 37 to 20 during a late morning session on Monday, the Oregon House of Representatives passed SB 602-A, banning the use of motorboats and seaplanes on Waldo Lake in central Oregon. This action follows last month’s 18-11 passage of the bill by the Oregon Senate. The legislation was introduced by Senator Floyd Prozanski and Representative Paul Holvey, and will now be sent to Governor Kitzhaber, who is expected to sign the bill into law.
Located near Oakridge, Waldo Lake is Oregon’s second deepest lake and rivals Crater Lake and Russia’s Lake Baikal as one of the three purest lakes in the world. The lake is so clear that boaters on its surface can look down nearly 150 feet and discern the lake’s bottom (giving one the impression of floating in outer space).
“Waldo Lake is a unique Oregon treasure,” said Brian Pasko, Director of the Sierra Club’s Oregon Chapter. “Today’s action by the Oregon legislature will protect Waldo Lake’s unique ecology and ensure that it is a place for quiet recreation and solitude to be enjoyed by Oregonians for generations to come.”
Passage of SB 602-A reaffirms a 2012 decision of the Oregon Marine Board prohibiting the use of motorized watercraft on Waldo Lake except for boats using electric motors and traveling under 10mph. The decision was made following a lengthy public comment period that engaged over 4000 Oregon citizens in the decision making process, the vast majority of which supported the motorized ban.
Following the Marine Board’s decision, the Oregon Aviation Board issued a temporary rule last year allowing sea plane landings on Waldo Lake. The Aviation Board’s decision was made contrary to the Marine Board’s determination, even though there are many large lakes near Waldo Lake that allow for safe sea plane landings and sea plane recreational opportunities. Passage of SB 602-A resolves the conflicting decisions of these two state agencies.
“Sea planes and motorized boats present a number of environmental risks to Waldo Lake, including an increased potential for the spread of invasive species and pollution of the lake through potential fuel spills, ” said Pasko. “However, Waldo Lake is also highly valued by the public as a place for quiet recreation. SB 602-A will protect the public’s expectations and support for the current management approach at Waldo Lake.”
According to Forest Service surveys, over 75% of visitors agreed that motorized boating negatively impacts their recreational experience at Waldo Lake. Almost 70% of respondents favored only allowing non-motorized boats or electric motors on Waldo Lake, and 86% favored controlling the level of noise from motorized recreation.
The full text of SB 602-A can be found at: http://www.leg.state.or.us/13reg/measpdf/sb0600.dir/sb0602.a.pdf