Waldo Lake: Just say ‘NO’ to Floatplanes

A few links… online petitionGovernor’s letterUSFS Supervisor’s letterOregon Parks & Rec letteraiR-link

The following is the statement sent to OSAB by this one Oregon citizen, expressing opposition to seaplanes at Waldo Lake…

Statement Opposing Seaplanes at Waldo Lake (submitted to OSAB, 1/31/2013)

Please accept this as my statement in strong opposition to seaplane use of Waldo Lake. I opposed this absurd aviation activity when I used the allotted three-minutes and spoke to you and the other members of the Oregon State Aviation Board (OSAB) last May. In my words, I noted that both former Governor Kulongoski and current Governor Kitzhaber, as well as the vast majority of citizens, have made it clear they strongly oppose seaplanes at Waldo Lake. I also suggested in very clear terms, OSAB’s continued catering to the desires of the tiny seaplane user group, smacks of cronyism, especially since you went on record as a seaplane pilot yourself.

That was eight months ago. Nothing has changed since. Now, you have the responsibility to permanently shut down seaplane use at Waldo Lake. Please do your duty.

You may not be aware of Oregon’s fatal seaplane accident of 7/31/94. A couple from Boring was paddling a canoe in the Willamette, when a seaplane taking off struck both of them. Their two young children were lower in the canoe and survived without physical injuries, but their parents were killed. I was working in the air traffic control tower at Salem when the radio call came in. We quickly dispatched emergency crews, but to no avail. When I learned of the larger details, my heart ached – as it still does – for those children.

Waldo Lake is an extraordinary place with exceptional water quality. It is a huge attraction for nonmotorized boating activity. Clearly, it is appropriate for the state to JUST SAY ‘NO’ TO SEAPLANES and all gas-powered use of the lake surface. Not just for environmental reasons (noise, water purity, wildlife) but also for safety reasons. The seaplane/watercraft accident precedent was set; now you have a chance to guard against a tragic repeat.

Mr. Gardiner, you yourself are a seaplane pilot, and are thus mindful of the fact that seaplanes have much louder propellers than do regular aircraft. The regular aircraft are already too loud. Seaplanes, especially in a special area such as Waldo Lake, are entirely inappropriate. Furthermore, you are aware that seaplane pilots transitioning through the Willamette Pass area, have superior facilities – with docks even! – just a few miles away, at Crescent Lake. They also have landing access to Odell Lake, in close proximity to Highway 58. Both of these other lakes are far superior for use by seaplanes. Clearly, there is no excuse for OSAB hornswoggling the citizens of this state with any implication that Waldo Lake serves any necessity for aviation. You know that it does not.

Crescent Lake rRsort

Photo shot 11/5/2010, and copied from the C-SPA.org website in late January 2013. Crescent Lake is just a few minutes south of Waldo Lake, and less off-route, for pilots transitioning through the Willamette Pass area.

Nearby Crescent Lake is promoted by C-SPA.org as a destination for their seaplane pilot buddies, like you Mark. They even have docks to tie down.

Please do us all a favor. Lead OSAB in rejecting seaplane access to Waldo Lake.

Jeff Lewis, Mulino, OR
(copy posted at aiREFORM.com)
Waldo Lake Cross Country Routes

map copied from the C-SPA.org seaplane website. Implies Waldo Lake is critically located and needed for use by seaplanes. But, other much larger nearby lakes (ODELL LAKE, and CRESCENT LAKE) are not on the map, and are far better located for seaplane use. In fact, C-SPA.org promotes use of Crescent Lake, with a photo of seaplanes tied down to the dock. Clearly, Waldo Lake is NOT needed for aviation use.

A Petition to Ban Seaplanes at Oregon’s pristine Waldo Lake

Waldo Lake, one of the clearest lakes in the world, lies at 5,414′ elevation near the crest of Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range.

We were at Waldo Lake today, it is beautiful. There is currently a gas motor ban on the lake and nobody is complaining, but the Aviation Board seems to think that float planes don’t have to play by the same rules. There are many other lakes nearby that don’t have any restrictions.

It is truly arrogant for the Aviation Board and the float plane community to think they can spoil such a beautiful lake. They obviously aren’t considering the negative impact this will have on the aviation community.

 Here’s the link, sign the petition.

Thanks for keeping Waldo Lake pollution free.

This letter is a ringing endorsement for the beauty of Waldo Lake. But, even more importantly, it was written by an Oregon pilot, and posted onto a discussion board for Oregon aviators. Bravo!! His well-stated concern proves an important point: that there are pilots (probably far more than speak up about it!) who do care about the environment. Thank you, Mr. Oregon Aviator, for speaking up for the environment we all share.

Why is a Petition Needed?

Waldo Lake is a high altitude Oregon lake, famous for its crystal clear waters. In fact, the waters tend to be so pure, that the lake naturally sustains no fishery. It is surrounded on three sides by wilderness, and the USFS maintains the east side in a near-wilderness condition, with campgrounds at a distance from the tranquil shores.  The area is enjoyed for hiking, kayaking, and just being in the quiet of Nature.

Gas motors have been banned. Both the past Governor (Kulongoski) and current Governor (Kitzhaber) have gone on record clearly opposing aircraft access to the lake. But this is Oregon. We are proud of our environmental heritage, and we live in a governmental system where much of Oregon policy is set by smaller Boards filled with citizen-appointees who meet monthly to ‘take care of business’. Historically, these Boards tend to serve their own interests far ahead of other citizen interests. So, when the Oregon Marine Board passed their new rule banning gas motors, the pilots on the Oregon State Aviation Board stepped up and said ‘not so fast, you don’t have jurisdiction for the aviation use of this lake’.

Although quite possibly there may be fewer than ten or twenty pilots who are actually using Waldo Lake, fighting for the lake became a cause celebre (and very possibly a fundraiser) for the Columbia Seaplane Association in Lake Oswego, OR. An officer in that group blogged this in April 2012, about a key meeting between the Marine and Aviation Boards: “The Aviation Board aren’t going to take any closure sitting down. Several are floatplane pilots and while I expected their arguments to be agency authority oriented the meeting had a very personal flavor….”  Yup. Despite the fact that the larger public was overwhelmingly in favor of a full ban at Waldo, the half of OSAB who are seaplane pilots made sure they (and their few pals) could continue to fly there. It was truly arrogant, and self-serving.

And yet, at the same time, it was a gross disservice to many others in aviation. Nobody can credibly deny that powered flight (especially helicopters!) has a substantial adverse impact on the immediate environment. The noise, the toxic leaded fuel exhaust, and the overhead privacy intrusion. These three key impacts fuel the feuds between aviation and neighbors of aviation. So, when a tiny few pilots start pounding their chests about their right to land at serene Waldo Lake, they do so with a large cost later: they are destroying the reputation of pilots and aviation in general.

Let’s hope this will soon all pass, when Oregon’s leaders complete the ban; no seaplanes at Waldo.

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