Tom W. L. McCall Jr. writes about his father's love for the Metolius River basin, which currently is threatened by destination resorts that would be allowed in this wild and scenic area by a Jefferson County rezoning.
If you aren't familiar with this astoundingly beautiful area of central Oregon, which my wife and I visit frequently, here's some photos that I took recently. Look, and you'll fall in love with the Metolius from afar.
Unfortunately, a bill that would stop the destination resorts -- which could markedly reduce the flow of springs and creeks that are the sole source of the Metolius River -- has been derailed by a single vote in the Oregon House of Representatives (the bill passed the Senate).
I'm deeply irritated by the legislators who failed to understand that this is our only chance to preserve the Metolius Basin from developments desired by county politicians because they wrongly believe this would increase property tax revenues.
But all will be forgiven if one of the five Dem "No's" on the bill changes his mind and HB 3298 comes back to life.
I hope they'll read Tom McCall Jr's marvelously written essay (see below). The next to last paragraph is the one that caused tears to flow in me.
If you're moved to help save the Metolius -- doesn't matter where in the world you live -- click here, scroll to the June 18 entry, and email the state representatives who are listed. Tell them you feel just like Tom McCall: preserving the Metolius Basin is worth whatever sacrifice it takes.
Read and (maybe) weep:
This is a moment in time when Oregonians have the chance to protect a wonder of nature that my father cherished. My father considered the Metolius River Basin to be in the same extraordinary natural Endowment that includes the Oregon Beaches, the Columbia River Gorge, and Crater Lake -- all legacy public resources that deserved special and everlasting protection. Sadly, my father's life was cut short before he could ensure the permanent protection of the Metolius. This left a gaping hole in his conservation hopes for Oregon.
Nevertheless, Tom McCall did set up a process that lives beyond his life to afford Oregonians a method by which to ensure protection of a landmark treasure like the Metolius. This process is the designation of the LCDC and Area of Critical Concern, all contained within SB100, which is the original land use law. It is a fitting and profound continuation of Tom McCall's legacy to see Oregonians today invoke the protection of the LCDC and the designation of an Area of Critical Concern for the clear purpose he envisioned.
I wish to recount a story from my father's final days, which Oregonians who enjoy the fruits of my father's passionate commitment to Nature and conservation will appreciate: During his campaign against Measure 6, Tom McCall said, "You all know I have terminal cancer—and I have a lot of it. But what you may not know is that stress induces its spread and induces its activity. Stress may even bring it on. Yet stress is the fuel of the activist. This activist loves Oregon more than he loves life. I know I can't have both very long. The trade-offs are all right with me. But if the legacy we helped give Oregon and which made it twinkle from afar—if it goes, then I guess I wouldn't want to live in Oregon anyhow."
There is only one choice—only one issue—facing us at this moment: preserve the Metolius, or destroy it. Take your choice. And may that choice be to preserve this pristine river as I and millions of others have for decades. You, the public, can be part of the legacy my father helped give Oregon by being one of those who rises in passion to Save the Metolius. My father's spirit is “twinkling from afar,” relishing in Oregon's passion for conservation.
(A recent Salem Statesman Journal editorial calling for the passage of HB 3298 provides another perspective on saving the Metolius.)