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Waldo Lake Motor Ban

Oregon Legislature Passes Waldo Lake Motor Ban!

May 2013 Update

SB 602 Passes House - Governor Signs

The Oregon House of Representatives with a 37-20 vote passed SB 602-A, a bill that bans the use of motorboats and seaplanes on Waldo Lake in central Oregon. The Senate passed SB 602-A last month with a bipartisan 18-11 vote. Governor Kitzhaber signed the bill into law on May 17th.

Click on OR Legislature Protects Waldo Lake to read more about the passage of SB 602-A on our Oregon Sierra Club Blog.

Waldo Lake is a unique Oregon treasure—it's Oregon's second deepest lake and rivals Crater Lake as one of the purest lakes in the world. Passing SB 602-A has been a top legislative priority for the Sierra Club. Today we celebrate years of work to protect Waldo Lake through administrative rulemaking as well as our latest and lasting efforts to shepherd SB 602-A through the legislative process. Thanks to our Juniper Group members and thousands of other Sierra Club members and supporters across Oregon who wrote comments, donated funds, attended hearings of the Oregon Marine and Aviation Boards, responded to action alerts, and called and wrote their state legislators, the Oregon legislature took action today to protect Waldo Lake's unique ecology and ensured that it will be a place for quiet recreation and solitude to be enjoyed by future Oregonians for generations to come.

April 2013 Update

SB 602 Passes State Senate

SB 602 has passed the State Senate and has now under consideration by the House Environmental Committee. We ask that everyone email or call your Representative as an individual who strongly believes Waldo Lake should be saved for future generations to enjoy. Click to find your state representative.

March 2013 Update

Legislative Action To Keep Seaplanes Off Waldo Lake

The Oregon Chapter Sierra Club has been working to generate legislative support to protect Waldo Lake. SB 602 is that bill. Sponsored by State Senator Floyd Prozanski, it would add Waldo Lake to the list of water bodies in Oregon that prohibit access by gas motorized boats and seaplanes.

A hearing to take public testimony will be held in Salem at the Capitol in the Senate Environment Committee on Wednesday, March 13 at 3pm, hearing room C. Can you make the hearing to lend your support with your presence or testimony? We ask that everyone email or call your Senator and Representative as an individual who strongly believes Waldo Lake should be saved for future generations to enjoy. Click to find your state representative. Click to find your state senator.

February 2013 Update

Aviation Board Hearing Summary

Aviation Board HearingAviation Board Hearing
photo by Richard Turk
Larry SpeakingLarry Speaking for Oregon Sierra Club
photo by Richard Turk
Crowd at Aviation Board HearingAttendees at Aviation Board Hearing
photo by Richard Turk

The Oregon State Aviation Board met in Springfield as scheduled on January 31st. Approximately 80 people attended. About fifteen Sierra Club members came from around the state (Bend, Eugene, and Portland) to state their opposition to allowing seaplanes on the lake. The meeting started with a reading of the proposed new permanent rule: 738-040-037, Waldo Lake Access and the Use of Seaplanes with Certain Restrictions.

Invited guests were then allowed to speak, which included representatives from the Seaplane Pilots Association, the Willamette National Forest Supervisor, the Governor's representative, Doug Heiken from Oregon Wild, and Larry Pennington from Oregon Sierra Club (click link to read his statement). These speakers were followed by nearly two hours of speakers from around the state representing a wide diversity of organizations and views. An excellent summary of the hearing can be read on the Eugene Register-Guard website: Most at Hearing Oppose Seaplanes on Waldo Lake.

As the Register-Guard reports, the speakers were about 3 to 1 opposed to allowing seaplanes on Waldo Lake. Especially compelling testimony was provided by two grandsons of Judge Waldo, Bruce and Brian Johnson. The primary topics discussed were the lake's purity, isolation, quiet, and old growth surroundings that provide a unique experience, some said spiritual, for those who visit. This was countered by seaplane proponents who feel that they too have a right to land and enjoy that experience, that they are no more intrusive on the lake than those who drive vehicles, the need for a landing place in case of bad weather or emergencies, and the adequacy of safeguards against pollution and transfer of invasive species. Safety was also discussed repeatedly in light of two people killed on the Willamette River by a seaplane three years ago.

The Aviation Board did not make a decision at the Hearing. That decision is expected some time in the month of February 2013. The Aviation Board may not have the last word on whether seaplanes can land on Waldo Lake. There is a strong alignment of environmental organizations, as well as several Federal and State agencies, who may continue the effort to keep Waldo Lake free of seaplanes. The environmental organizations include: Sierra Club, Oregon Wild, and Cascadia Wildlands. The agencies include: Willamette National Forest Supervisor Meg Mitchell, the Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department Director Tim Wood, and Oregon Governor Kitzhaber. Links to letters submitted to the Aviation Board are below.

We will keep you posted.

January 2013 Update

Aviation Board Hearing January 31 on Permanent Float Plane Ruling

The Oregon State Aviation Board will be holding a Public Hearing regarding Waldo Lake on Thursday, January 31, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This hearing will be held in the Ken Long Conference Room at the Willamalane Center in Springfield, Oregon.

Waldo LakeWaldo Lake from North Twin

Bordered on three sides by Wilderness and the other side by old growth forest, Waldo Lake is one of the few large lakes that offers a tranquil, semi-primitive nature experience to hikers, paddlers and campers. It is one of the purest lakes in the world with visibility that exceeds Crater Lake. Not only would float plane access create a real risk of pollution from usage and fuel spills, but it would also increase the risk of introducing invasive species. There are numerous options for float planes on nearby lakes, why must they have Waldo, too? Do we want to experience the natural soundscape, or the roar of a float plane’s open throttle upon takeoff? Do we want to smell the fragrance of conifers, or gas fumes from a nearby float plane? Gas motor boats are not allowed, and float planes should be banned as well.

This public hearing and comment period may be the last opportunity to keep float planes out of Waldo Lake.

Please consider taking a few minutes to express your views!

Use our Action Alert: Send an email to the Oregon State Aviation Board letting them know you oppose float planes landing on Waldo Lake.

Attend the Hearing: If you have time on Thursday, January 31, 6:00 to 8:00 PM, please come to the Aviation Board's public hearing, and let your voice be heard. Click here to read the Aviation Board News Release.

Ken Long Conference Room
Willamalane Center
250 South 32nd Street
Springfield, Oregon 97478

Call, Email, or Write: If you can't attend the public hearing you can still have your voice heard.

If you have 2 minutes, call or write an email to the Aviation Board to ask them to ban float planes.

Oregon Department of Aviation 3040 - 25th Street, SE
Salem, OR 97302-1125
Phone: (503) 378-4880
Toll Free: (800) 874-0102
FAX: (503) 373-1688

If you have 5 minutes, contact the Governor as well, and tell him you want to ban float planes.

Governor Kitzhaber
Email contact form:
USPS: Governor Kitzhaber, 160 State Capitol, 900 Court Street, Salem, OR 97301-4047
Governor's Citizens' Representative, Message Phone Line: 503 / 378 / 4582, Fax: 503 / 378 / 6827

If you have 10 minutes, contact all your pro-environment friends and ask them to do the same!

If you have 20 minutes: type or hand-write a letter to the Aviation Board and Governor; hand-written, snail-mailed letters carry more weight than email or phone calls. Even faxes are good!

Sample Letter to Oregon Aviation Board: click to open a Sample Letter to the Oregon State Aviation Board with talking points. Your letter will be more effective the more you personalize it, so please edit it with your own thoughts before you send it.

Also, read the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department Director's letter to the Aviation Board strongly advocating a permanent ban on Waldo Lake float plane landings: Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department Letter.

December Update

The Aviation Board is tentatively planning a meeting in late January 2013 to establish a Permanent Rule for float planes on Waldo Lake. We will post the date, location, and a link to the Aviation Board website when it is published.

May 18 Update

On May 17th, the Oregon State Aviation Board passed the following rules amendment:

"Temporary rule amends Oregon Administrative Rule 738-040 by including new paragraph 738-040-035 to allow for the use of float planes at Waldo Lake to empirically document usage and impose certain restrictions."

This rule will allow float planes to land on Waldo Lake for the indefinite future. The Oregon Sierra Club produced over 1300 emails to the Aviation Board opposing this action. The Club takes great exception to this ruling and is evaluating the most beneficial way to continue our opposition.

May 8 Update

The State Aviation Board (AB) is expected to make a temporary ruling on float planes on Waldo Lake on May 17, and it needs to be convinced that it serves all Oregonians, not just interests of float plane owners and pilots. We have only nine days to send another round of emails, postcards and letters to the editor to apply public pressure to retain the ban on float planes on Waldo Lake.

The public hearing is May 17 to discuss and adopt temporary rules for float plane usage on Waldo Lake. According to the AB, this temporary ruling will allow time for them to “gather data” on lake usage and invasive species measures. But public pressure must be brought to bear on the Aviation Board NOT to temporarily allow float planes. We need to convince the AB with a loud and clear voice that the public does not ever want noisy, disruptive, possibly polluting float planes on Waldo Lake.

April 10 Update

Congratulations and a huge thank you to all of our members who sent messages to the State Marine Board supporting the motor ban at Waldo Lake. We made a difference! We want to thank you and give you this brief update about what happened at Tuesdays Marine Board hearing.

Tuesday night's hearing was a bit of a marathon, and we ended up with mixed results after the smoke cleared. The Board upheld the motorized ban on Waldo Lake, but by a vote of 3 to 2 exempted float planes, deferring that decision to the Oregon State Aviation Board. The Aviation Board is on record opposing the ban, and will likely put forward a plan that has some window dressing restrictions for float planes that will be largely unenforceable. The Aviation Board sees the lake as a landing strip only, and could care less about public sentiment, which is unfortunate. We are now evaluating best next steps and will be in touch with you again when we determine our course of action.

One thing we should all be very proud of is the dominant role the Sierra Club played in this process. The comments were 3848 in favor of keeping the ban, and 301 against. Of the 3848 comments in favor, 2911 were from Sierra Club members and supporters. 76% of the comments in support of the ban were from the Sierra Club! That is awesome, and in our opinion, the deciding reason the ban will be kept in place. We should all be very proud of this Club we belong to, and the leading role we're playing in protecting the things we cherish in Oregon.

Most importantly, this hearing is only one step in our efforts to protect the lands surrounding Waldo Lake. We have launched a comprehensive campaign to permanently protect the lands surrounding Waldo Lake, and we need your continued help! Go to our Keep Waldo Wild page to learn about why legislative protections to more of the Waldo Lake area is so important. Then volunteer with us to make this vision happen!

Waldo Lake Motor Ban Background

Internal Combustion Motors Banned on Lake in 2010

The Oregon State Marine Board banned the use of internal combustion motors on Waldo Lake in 2010 in response to a long and sustained effort by environmental organizations and other citizen groups to preserve the unique water purity of the lake. The ban is codified in the Oregon State Marine Board Administrative Rules, Section 250-020-0221, Boat Operations on Certain Waters in Lane County:

"(10) Use of internal combustion motors in boats and floatplanes operating on the surface of Waldo Lake is prohibited year round. “Watercraft” includes boats and floatplanes operating on the surface of Waldo Lake. Official use of internal combustion motors in watercraft operated on the surface of Waldo Lake by local, state or federal governmental officials or agents is allowed for the following activities: search and rescue, law enforcement and fire suppression. Previous approval by the Willamette National Forest Supervisor is required for other activities undertaken by local, state or federal government officials or agents that involve use of internal combustion motors in watercraft operated on the surface of Waldo Lake. Emergency landings of private or governmental floatplanes on Waldo Lake are allowed without previous approval."

Waldo Lake Unique Water Purity

Waldo LakeWaldo Lake Blue Water

As Oregon’s second largest natural lake, Waldo Lake is a “Gem of the Cascades” with water purity exceeding that of distilled water. This purity has occurred because there are no streams that enter the lake, and the surrounding geology is so stable very little sediment reaches the lake. A large percentage of water entering the lake is directly from precipitation. An exceptionally short growing season and very little plant life due to low nutrient soils results in water of an extraordinary cobalt blue color and clarity that allows over 100 feet of visibility. This purity, though, can easily be placed at risk since the natural water replacement time is 32 years.

Why is Overturning the Ban Being Considered?

A group of boat owners, fishermen, hunters, and float plane owners have banded together to re-open the ban, citing an unfair economic impact as a result of the ban. This group is led by an association called "Waldo Lake for Everyone". They state that the ban is greatly reducing the recreational activity on and around the lake, and consequently reducing the incomes to recreation groups, as well as to restaurants and hotels along Highway 58 south of the lake. An immediate challenge to the existing rule has been filed in the Oregon Court of Appeals by the Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association alleging procedural irregularities in the original rule-making. The appeal asserts that the fiscal impact statements for the challenged rules were inadequate. For more details on this appeal, read the Oregon State Marine Board web page Special Board Meeting February 9th.

Why the Ban Should Not Be Overturned

Waldo LakeClear to the Bottom

Waldo Lake is bordered on three sides by Wilderness and the other side by old growth forest. It is now one of the few large lakes that offers a quiet semi-primitive nature experience to hikers and campers. It is one of the purest lakes in the world with visibility that exceeds Crater Lake. This makes it a world treasure. Gas motors create a real risk of pollution from usage and fuel spills that can destroy this unique treasure, a risk that is unacceptable. There are numerous options for motorized recreation nearby on Odell Lake, Crescent Lake, Davis Lake, Crane Prairie Reservoir, Wickiup Reservoir, and Cultus Lake. Over 10 years of work went into creating the motor ban on Waldo, and the public supports this ban by a wide margin. Those who cherish an experience free of gas motor noise and pollution have rights that must be respected as much as anyone else's rights.

For additional perspective, read Bend The Source Weekly January 18 editorial Flip-Flopping on Waldo Lake and Eugene The Register-Guard February 5 article Waldo Lake engine ban back at hand.

What You Can Do

Submit Written Comments to the Board March 1st through April 10th

The Marine Board is now accepting public input on the motor ban and has established a formal comment period from March 1 to April 10. The Marine Board News Release 02-28-12 states that the Public Comment Period will run from March 1st through April 10th and provides more information about the Marine Board rulemaking process. Note that comments submitted outside this formal period will not be considered by the Marine Board. In addition, a public notice of the comment period will be published in the March 1st edition of the Oregon Bulletin.

Written comments can be submitted via email to, or by U.S. mail to June LeTarte, Rules Coordinator, 435 Commercial Street NE, Suite 400, P.O. Box 14145, Salem, OR 97309-5056. Comments via telephone cannot be accepted. Or, you can submit your comments using our automated message form by clicking the link below.

In addition, the Oregon State Aviation Board will also have an input to the Marine Board decision. An email or letter to them (addresses provided below via Oregon Department of Aviation) protesting any change to the motor ban will help.

Eugene, April 4th: Attend "Oregon Wild Wednesday: A Celebration of Waldo Lake"

Our Oregon Wild friends are rallying Waldo Lake lovers on April 4, 6:00-8:00 PM, at Agate Alley Laboratory, 2645 Willamette St., Eugene. This event is hosted by Oregon Wild with Sierra Club participation to provide background on what makes Waldo Lake so special and what are the Marine Board issues with the existing gas motor ban. Various stakeholders will speak, including former Congressman Jim Weaver, who worked to protect Waldo Wilderness years ago, as well as Sierra Club Keep Waldo Wild coordinator Dave Stowe. For more information, go the the Oregon Wild Wednesday - Eugene web page.

Attend the April 10 Marine Board Hearing

The Oregon State Marine Board will hold a public meeting at the Willamalane Center (Ken Long Room), 250 South 32nd Street, in Springfield, Oregon. The meeting will begin promptly at 6 p.m. The public will be given an opportunity to provide testimony during this meeting. At the meeting’s conclusion, the Board may make a motion regarding the rules. The Board may re-adopt the rules, repeal the rules, or amend the rules with new language. The announcement of this meeting is posted on the Marine Board web site at Marine Board News.

Write or call:

As described above, the Marine Board will accept public comment from March 1 through April 10. Written comments received by the Board outside the comment period will not be considered. In addition, Letters to the Editor and communications with the Governor and other public officials will help.

Talking Points

Here are recommended talking points for your letter, email, or phone call (open these bullets in a pdf file for printing here - Motor Ban Talking Points):