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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