you're reading...
Women's Bodies, Women's Health

URGENT CALL TO WOMEN: Act, Write and Plan Now to Save Women’s Land!

mountaingrove2-m.jpg

Oregon Women’s Land Trust Meeting, 1970s, © Ruth Mountaingrove  

From OWL (Oregon Women’s Land) Farm:

Pipeline update: As you all recall, an energy company has stated their intentions of burying a 3-foot diameter pipeline through Owl Farm. They would need to clearcut a 100′ to 150′ wide corridor, 1/2 mile through our forest to make room for the equipment and roads needed to install the pipeline (about a seven acre clearcut). The proposed route would travel down the ridge west of the main house, and then straight down the steep hill above the Coop, through the parking lot and over the creek.

We are in shock and denial that this could ever happen to us. We are still one or two years away from having our land condemned, and many things can happen in that time to stop it.

We are in shock and denial that this could ever happen to us. We are still one or two years away from having our land condemned, and many things can happen in that time to stop it. But then again, the energy company has already spent millions to make this happen, and the more money they spend, the harder it is to stop.

Many women on this list wrote letters to the federal government earlier this year when we asked. Thank you. It made an impact. The government noted the large amount of letters concerning “Owl Ranch”. In 2008, when the government issues an Environmental Impact Statement for public comments, we will again ask you to write to the government. In the meantime, we need a different kind of letter from any women who has ever visited Owl – more on that later.

First, some more information on potential environmental and social effects to one of the oldest women’s lands in the country, as well as effects to our world.

The purpose of the pipeline is to transport natural gas from Coos Bay, at the Pacific Ocean, 230 miles to California. The gas actually originates on the other side of the world, in countries like Russia or Iran. There it is super cooled so it can be compressed (liquefied, aka Liquefied Natural Gas, or LNG), and put on huge tankers to be brought across the ocean to Coos Bay. Near the coast, these LNG takers, the size of several football fields, will have to cross a busy grey whale migration route. In Coos Bay the energy companies plan to dredge and widen the bay, and build a terminal to push the gas 230 miles through the new pipeline, eventually going through Owl Farm, and on to the California market.

Nobody is happy about this – not our right-wing county commissioners (it hurts private property rights), the managers of the National Forests (it hurts endangered species like the spotted owl and coho salmon), the citizens of Coos Bay (one mistake and their town blows up), or the people on the pipeline route, like us.

In a recent women’s news story, it was reported that our county commissioners opposed the pipeline, and we soon started receiving congratulations from some of you on our victory. Sorry for the misunderstanding, but we didn’t win anything. The Bush administration’s 2005 energy bill took local control away from deciding where to site energy projects. Now, only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) can decide our fate. The energy company filed with FERC on September 4 for a “certificate of public necessity and need”, asking for permission to take other’s private land by eminent domain, if necessary for their gas project.

Looking through the thousands of documents that were filed, we discovered some amazing plans the energy company has for Owl Farm. For instance, they had originally told us they would need to clearcut a 100-foot wide route, 1/2 mile route through Owl Farm’s forests. But the plans they filed with FERC show they want to clearcut 150′ wide in many places, and some places, 200′ wide. It needs to be wider because the slope is so steep down the hill toward the Coop, and, they need plenty of extra space to park their earth-destroying equipment, right in front of the Coop

The Coop (known to FERC as the “guest house”) is the real main house we use, and about 100′ away from proposed pipeline route. The Coop is one of only seven houses on the 230-mile pipeline route that could be affected by blasting. Apparently, Owl Farm has high-surface rock, so the energy company thinks they will have to blast open the ridgetop and the slope down to the Coop, in order to burry the pipeline. They promised FERC they would put padded blankets on the side of the Coop to protect it from flying rock and other blasting impacts. The blasting map we discovered actually has a bulls-eye circle drawn around the Coop.

We called the energy company and asked if they would also have to blast through the wetlands next to the Coop. They assured us that if they degrade our wetlands, they would enhance other wetlands — on someone else’s property. But it’s not “someone else’s property” they reminded me – it will all belong to them anyway.

We noticed that the general route of the proposed pipeline stays on the ridgetop for many miles, EXCEPT, it takes a U-turn to come through Owl Farm. We asked the energy company why they didn’t just stay on the ridgetop. The answer is that on the BLM land next to Owl Farm (an old growth forest) has a spotted owl’s nest, and the energy company cannot violate the Endangered Species Act, so they swung it through Owl Farm instead.

Another impact of this pipeline on Owl Farm is not only our loss of a beautiful view, but also our loss of privacy. The energy company would fly planes over their right-of-way often, send out maintenance men without warning, and herbicide spray the corridor to keep anything from growing into the pipeline. After all, the gas will not be odorized, so if there were a leak, we wouldn’t know until it’s too late. They can also sell the right-of-way so other people could start coming through for different reasons in the future.

Perhaps the worst impact to all of us is that Liquefied Natural Gas contributes to global climate change. It has a carbon footprint almost as dirty as some forms of coal. Unlike domestic natural gas (one of America’s most abundant energy sources, with pipelines across the nation already in place), Liquefied Natural Gas is dirtier because of minute leakages of methane that is cumulatively significant, and the added energy cost to liquefy, ship, regasify, and pipe it to California. While it will make the energy companies rich, it will retard our conversion to renewable energy sources like solar, wind and wave power

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Women of the World – We need your help, to save Owl Farm and to save humankind. We need three things: women, letters and financial assistance.

Women: Come to Owl Farm. The more women-energy we have on the land, the more we can displace the energy of those who wish to destroy it. There are some indoor places to sleep, lots of tent spaces, and a few car-camping spaces. Call first so we can tell you about the farm and what to bring. We are sponsoring an Owl-Farm hike in early May, so come before then to help plant the garden. The hike will focus on protecting the native ecology of Pacific Northwest forests and meadows. Other projects to plug into are organizing against the LNG terminal and pipeline, protecting old growth forests (there is one in danger bordering Owl Farm), or organizing the “greening of women’s lands” project. We are looking for women who can write grants to help fund this last project.

Letters: If Oregon Women’s Land Trust has to go to court to defend Owl Farm, we need testimony of how Owl Farm has benefited women over the years. If you have ever been to Owl Farm, consider sending us a letter telling us of your experience. Feel free to mention anything you remember about the land as beautiful, private, safe, restful, healing, beneficial, spiritual, uplifting, etc

Financial: In order to organize against the LNG pipeline, for renewable energy, for our mission and for protecting the natural wonders at Owl Farm, we would love to have your financial assistance.

Our address is OWLT, P.O. Box 1692, Roseburg, OR 97470. E-mail us at lovesowlfarm@hotmail.com.  Ask to be put on our mailing list to receive our quarterly newsletters.

Thank you to everyone for all your help, including your magic, to hold Owl Farm and all our lands safe for future women of the world.

Francis Eatherington
Resident, Rainbow’s End
Board Member, Oregon Women’s Land Trust

Article by Tee Corinne on Women’s Lands, published in off our backs in 2003

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Discussion

9 thoughts on “URGENT CALL TO WOMEN: Act, Write and Plan Now to Save Women’s Land!

  1. If you want to go in May, Cheryl, I’d be all over that.

    Posted by Heather | December 10, 2007, 2:16 pm
  2. The detour sounds very suspicious.

    Find yourselves some endangered species, then they can’t go through. Borrow said species from the ridge!

    If I was in the US, I would visit. Best wishes to all to save Owl Farm from destruction.

    Posted by stormy | December 10, 2007, 6:28 pm
  3. Unfortunately with eminent domain laws being what they are now this company can come in, buy that land whether OWL wants to sell it or not and do whatever they want with it. If they feel they need the current owners to vacate they can stipulate that in the contract to buy. Definitely take the endangered species/wetlands route and show that their presence there violates any preservation act that exists. OWL may need to also look into NAFTA and make sure there is no claim for this natural gas there either.

    Posted by nike2422 | December 10, 2007, 8:20 pm
  4. Given the pressing need for energy sources, the lack of palatable alternatives, and the politics of eminent domain (recent supreme court case), the OWL’s situation seems pretty grim. Perhaps the best solution for OWL would be to sell the land at as high a price as possible, then buy other land and continue their wonderful programs there.

    If an anaology is possible, it seems a bit like a church that’s about to be built over by a freeway. The freeway is needed by many others. But the church is near and dear to the hearts and histories of the congregants. Best to move the congregation to a new location, knowing that what is most important is what happens among those gathered together, not the particular church building — or piece of land in nature in this case, however lovely.

    Posted by twitch | December 11, 2007, 6:23 am
  5. I think this sort of thing is going to continue to happen to Women’s Land unless we can attain some sort of independence from the US, like Native American reservations have.

    Posted by Branjor | December 11, 2007, 4:41 pm
  6. I agree Branjor.

    Posted by stormy | December 11, 2007, 7:17 pm
  7. About a million years ago a dirty, hungry, angry street kid landed on the steps of the Big House porch, with not a penny in her pocket, a backpack full of dirty cloths, and absolutely no sence of hope nor future.

    Terrified of people (after graduating to the streets of chicago as a runaway from institutional abuse), & with the social skills of a knife, she had no where to go but back to the below freezing streets, and a life of fear of being beaten or raped, should she relax or sleep. Eventually the streets became unbearable, and with no destination in hand, nothing to give & less to take , she hit the highways.

    It was a time of communal farms and sharing and everything was groovy,but until stepping on this tiny spot of safe space, this 150 acres of land any woman could call home , everytime time she tried to ‘settle in’ she would be quickly made to leave; as young lesbians were often perceived as a major threat to the status quo of devotion to whatever hippie ran the commune. Or to put it more bluntly she was generally booted for not having sex with the head honcho, a crime that would always leave her again homeless and hungry.

    But once she found OWL, that place built on the ideal of open land, full of wise women whom did not run at the sight of her anger, nor the feel of her palpable pain, but whom reached out , put a drum in her hand, taught her to feed chickens, grow gardens, milk and take care of the goats, she, the at once untouchable, the one un-able to escape her rage; became me.

    If it were not for OWL FARM i would have surely died the silent death of the streets, hooked on drugs instead of drumming, forgotten in an apathethic homophobic world. i am living proof that the idea that was OWL, the commitment to make a home for women, all women including ragged flashback ridden creatures like i myself had been, is the life that is OWL. For me living with women determined to create meaningfull enriching safe space full of artist and musicians and healers and goat-woman and berry pickers, well diggers, teachers, students was not a value measurable by money. it is an infinty of empowerment that has lasted a lifetime.

    I have since travelled for 1000s of miles more( including to other womyns lands), and never again have i found a private, safe ‘open’ space, where any woman could live & acclimate themselve to life….and in this sad clarity of reality, i humbly testify to everyone who will hear me, OWL farm is a priceless invaluable treasure, tangible sacred grounds of feminism and women’s empowerment in America.

    peace in, aunti_eli

    Posted by aunti_eli | December 14, 2007, 8:58 am
  8. Eli, a million thank yous for that powerful tribute and for telling your amazing story. I’m so glad to see you here and hope you’ll stick around and comment more often. (For readers, Eli is a Michfest sister and an amazing womon.)

    I hope other women who have been to OWL farm will comment here so we will have many comments to forward on in the event OWL has to go to court to defend wimmin’s land.

    And Heather, I just noticed your comment up there. Maybe we could gather up some wimmin and go down there to help get the garden in in the spring?

    Posted by womensspace | December 14, 2007, 5:03 pm
  9. I agree with the possibilities Twitch points out.

    What has the company offered to pay for Owl Farm land?
    What other places nearby are affordable?

    It is also good for as many women as possible to write letters to government agencies as well, and to look at the Plan B that Twitch suggested.
    I’ve already sent my letter and emailed other friends who have actually been to Owl Farm for their testimonies.

    I have cc’d my letter to all the democratic presidential candidates as well. Anyone doing a You Tube appeal to get the word out to women all over the world? This also is very effective.

    We actually did this same thing when common land in our neighborhood was about to be annexed by a man who bought land near the public path. Quite a battle that lasted two years, but thanks to the generous support of the entire neighborhood, we won a negotiated settlement. We even had several attorneys donate all their time to this project pro bono.

    We never disputed his right to build a home on land he had purchased, but we did say that the path had been in use for almost 80 years, and that it would not harm his land. Lots of nature loving people here even in big cities.

    Anyway, my best to Owl Farm, but I do hope they look at alternatives.

    Sometimes you can get enbroiled in land conflicts, when other answers are possible. One thing I’ve learned in feminism and in life is that there is almost always a Plan B, and in radical feminism we’ve come up with Plans B, V, Q, and Power!

    Posted by Satsuma | December 14, 2007, 6:49 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog Stats

  • 2,558,101 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

The Farm at Huge Creek, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, The Feminist Hullaballoo

206672_10150156355071024_736021023_6757674_7143952_n

59143_424598116023_736021023_5026689_8235073_n

Afia Walking Tree

More Photos