How Steve, recipient of the
2000 Golden Eagle Award, saved the day
The battle to preserve the Cascade Geographic Society's
"Sanctuary Land" became both political as well as personal. It was the
environment versus development.
When the Cascade Geographic Society learned about the threat, we immediately
sprang into action and stopped the contractor, who subsequently pulled out of
the project. He was misled about the water provider having all the appropriate
permits and permission from the property owner, which they had none.
Almost immediately, when the Cascade Geographic Society halted the project from
destroying their property and resources, the efforts to push the pipeline
through intensified. The life of the Curator was threatened. Calls came in from
businesses, saying that they would lose their entire investment if we didn't
allow our land to be destroyed. People asked us to turn our back and ignore any
In 1920, the U.S. Forest Service purchased from the then landowner, for only a
dollar, a ten-foot wide easement. This would allow a pipeline to essentially
plow right through the streams and wetlands on the property.
This easement was never officially filed. The result was that the Forest Service
and the landowner knew that the easement was there, but there was no legal
paperwork for anyone in the future to follow. A few years later, the
"Rhododendron Mineral Springs Land Company", in some agreement with
the Forest Service, installed a water system that would serve the Village of
Rhododendron. The pipeline was laid by hand.
Sometime later, the newly-formed "Rhododendron Summer Home
Association" began operating the water system. It wasn't until a January
night in 1999 that the Cascade Geographic Society knew that there was a serious
problem. Initially, the Cascade Geographic Society only
knew about "Rhododendron Meadow", a 14.5 acres natural area, that was
going to be impacted by a waterline. Ironically, the organization had preserved
this area just a few months earlier by mortgaging everything but their souls.
The impact to "Rhododendron Meadow"
would have been bad enough, only, unbeknownst to everyone, even more sensitive
land and its resources was going to be impacted. The losses due to this
waterline could have been substantial. In fact, the first contractor, who had
been stopped, said that he "would have destroyed the area" (with his
heavy equipment) in a relatively short time.
Many months later, it became apparent that the pipeline was not only going to go
through "Rhododendron Meadow", but also through other land in the
Cascade Geographic Society's "Sanctuary Lands Program". The new pipe
was also going to go through the "Whiskey Jack Creek Wetlands" and
"Meadow Creek Wetlands". The destruction and loss of resources was
going to be worse than expected. When Steve Seymour heard about the situation
with the pipeline and the threat to "Rhododendron Meadow", he offered
his services. In fact, later, it was Steve who determined that there were the
threats to the "Whiskey Jack Creek Wetlands" and "Meadow Creek
The Cascade Geographic Society was faced with a major dilemma: the Village of
Rhododendron needed water, but we also needed to preserve our "Sanctuary
Lands" and the resources.
Steve was an ideal attorney to have in the "moss foxhole" because he
had the ability to look at all sides of the issue without losing perspective of
the goal of the Cascade Geographic Society in preserving its "Sanctuary
Lands" and its resources. He believed that there could be water for the
Village of Rhododendron without destruction, if the water providers really
wanted to cooperate and follow all the laws and take the
necessary precautions to insure that resources would not be adversely impacted.
Through Steve's "tireless work", a legal agreement
was signed by the Cascade Geographic Society and the "Rhododendron Summer
Home Association". This document relocated the water line out of the
wetlands and streams into a less sensitive area on the properties involved,
specified the heavy equipment to be used (i.e., a "spider hoe"), the
geo-technical work that had
to be undertaken, the type of water pipe and seals to be used, and the permits
from the agencies that had to be secured.
In addition, it did not give the water provider an easement
or any future prescriptive rights, and it required the water line to be
abandoned and relocated elsewhere if it failed. The Forest Service also had to
abandon its easement. Steve had his feet "planted firmly on the
ground" through this entire process, and made sure that ours were, also. He
kept our minds open for
negotiation and compromise. This lead to an important agreement that essentially
saved our "Sanctuary Lands". This is why Cascade Geographic Society
presented its 2000 Golden Eagle Award to Steve Seymour.
Return to the Awards page
See a list of Requirements for Golden Eagle Award
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