You may think of Yachats, Oregon, as a dot on the Oregon coast, but that dot was big enough to attract more than 60 of the world’s leading grassroots advocates from 30 countries last Sunday to convene the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide’s 2015 ELAW Annual International Meeting. They came to strengthen their efforts back home to help communities speak out for clean air, clean water, and a healthy planet.
“Our partners are inspired by the beauty and power of the Oregon Coast, and eager to learn about local efforts to protect this vital ecosystem,” says Maggie Keenan, ELAW Communications Director.
Paul Engelmeyer, Ten Mile Creek Sanctuary Manager and Coastal IBA Coordinator, met the group on Tuesday for a tour of Cape Perpetua, Gwynn Creek old-growth hike, tidepooling at Neptune Beach, and Strawberry Hill. He gave a presentation on the conservation efforts protecting coastal watersheds and restoring native salmon habitat. “Sharing our conservation efforts here on the central coast – from the Marine Important Bird Areas – ‘Baja to Barrow’ to the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve/Seabird Protected Area and the Forage Fish campaign shows how connected our efforts are to a larger vision of healthy forests, watersheds and ocean.” The Midcoast Watershed Council recently celebrated it’s 20 Anniversary of work here on the central coast and will pass the $10ML mark of restoration activities to improve watershed conditions for salmon and our communities this month.
Fernando Ochoa, Executive Director of Defensa Ambiental del Norestse (DAN), a non-profit organization working to protect gray whale and whale shark breeding grounds in Northwest Mexico, said: “The whales I saw swimming up the Oregon Coast are the same whales I see from my home in Baja California. We all share the oceans and I’m thrilled to learn about how Oregonians are working to protect their oceans.”
Ochoa launched DAN ten years ago to take on the enormous Escalera Nautica project — a series of marinas and ports that would have industrialized the Baja California peninsula and radically altered the world-class landscape, devastating marine mammal habitt. DAN stopped the marina, and the phone has not stopped ringing since.
Diana McCaulay, Executive Director of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), was also inspired by Engelmeyer’s tour. “In most ways the Oregon Coast could hardly be more different than the coast of Jamaica,” she said. “But learning about programs in Oregon to protect marine resources, I realize that the issues are the same — it’s about understanding and protecting the connections that make our oceans healthy. I loved being here!”
And we loved having you here, ELAW ocean heroes. Thanks for letting us share Yachats and the beauty of the Oregon coast with you!