Paradise Almost Lost: Destruction at Jetty Creek in Oregon

Kate Taylor Jetty Creek
Kate Taylor and Kada in the Jetty Creek watershed where miles of trees once stood

In the film, DamNation, the beautiful Katie Lee sums up the magnificence and wonder of Glen Canyon with one descriptive word: Eden. And sadly, Eden is the paradise she loved that was lost with the destructive dam that turned the canyon into a swimming pool for recreational boaters.

The Glen Canyon dam flooded the canyon in 1963, and it would seem that by 2015 it would be more difficult to deliberately destroy watersheds and ecosystems on a massive scale. After all, with presidential primary candidates receiving cheers every time they advocate for shutting down the EPA, you would expect that the environmentalists are having their way. But it isn’t so, and as we are learning with Jetty Creek in Oregon, it is in fact too easy to wreak ecological havoc without much concern or consequence.

A satellite view of Jetty Creek would make any angler salivate. The home to wild coho salmon and steelhead, the creek runs through Rockaway Beach on the Oregon Coast in Tillamook County. With lush forest, massive ancient trees, and coastal hills, this region is picturesque Pacific Northwest. But such a description no longer paints a representative picture.

According to angler and resident, Kate Taylor, the watershed is “owned by two private timber companies that logged 82% since 2006 and is aerial sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides each year … [and] … have completely logged the feeder creeks (non-fish bearing streams) of Jetty Creek and in some places made logging roads that wiped out feeder creeks entirely.” For the already vulnerable steelhead and salmon, such ecological destruction worsens their outlook, especially considering Jetty Creek is dammed as well. Furthermore, the loss of trees mean a loss of habitat, unstable soil (from erosion), and less oxygen in the atmosphere.

Surprisingly, the seemingly lax regulation on the aerial spraying allows the companies to spray unknown (to residents) chemicals near homes and schools without warning. The result, as Taylor reports, is water that smells toxic and a local water treatment plant that needed upgrades in 2013 because it failed to meet EPA standards “in the years prior due to high THM levels in the water that can be linked to turbidity.” In short, two timber companies have destroyed an ancient coastal forest at the ongoing expense of its watershed and community.

Word is starting to get out on Jetty Creek, and the efforts could use a boost from the fly fishing community. Kate Taylor is among those taking a strong lead in the effort. To check out more from Kate, please click here. Also check out Citizens of Rockaway Beach for Watershed Protection by clicking here. Finally, please consider supporting a petition to regular aerial pesticide spraying by licking here.

– Tim Harden

Leave a Reply