Oregon Prohibits Seaplanes on Waldo Lake

Pristine lake only accessed by Forest Service road.

Waldo Lake
Waldo Lake
** Waldo Lake**

Oregonian seaplane and other motorized watercraft operators have lost a long-fought battle to use Waldo Lake, located at 5,414 feet in the Cascade Mountains, deep in the Willamette Forest about 70 miles east of Eugene.

After the State Senate and House of Representatives voted in favor of Senate Bill 602, which prohibits most inboard and outboard motorized vehicles from operating on Waldo Lake, Governor John Kitzhaber signed the bill into law on May 16 with immediate effect. The cause for the emergency enactment was “the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” according to the Bill. The Forest Service calls pristine Waldo Lake “one of the purest lakes in the world.”

In a guest column for The Oregonian, local seaplane pilot Aron Faegre claims he and his peers were not heard and that scientific facts were not considered by the lawmakers. His column claims "seaplanes have never destroyed a pristine remote lake anywhere in the world" and that "the road access required the clearing of approximately 100 acres of forest and required the importing of 120 million pounds of asphalt into the watershed."

The only motorized vehicles now allowed to run on the lake are law enforcement vehicles and electric-powered boats operating at less than 10 mph. Waldo Lake covers nearly 10 square miles of surface area and can now only be accessed by a Forest Service road.