When you read a headline about a successful legal case involving Oregon's land, air or water, chances are that Crag Law Center is part of the story. They're the lawyers for Oregon's environmental movement. Crag complements the organizing efforts of dozens of groups.
Crag’s client list is so long that it takes an entire page of their website. There are plenty of MRG grantees on the list, including:
When talking to Crag, you get the sense that there are hardly any natural resources that they aren't protecting. "Our cases run the gamut from protecting endangered fish and wolves to stopping gravel mining and ensuring people have fishable, drinkable water," says Ralph Bloemers, Crag co-director. "Our forest protection cases in Oregon stretch from the Oregon Coast to the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon."
Crag takes a comprehensive view of environmental law that includes communities of color and low-income communities. Crag won a landmark case under the Civil Rights Act to ensure the rights of the neighborhood association in a low-income community to organize and protect residents from environmental pollution. In Portland, Crag is working with OPAL in its efforts to address environmental justice issues in the city.
Crag has also defended fishing rights for native tribes whose subsistence fishing ground in the Arctic were being threatened by Royal Dutch Shell. This case has implications for native peoples throughout the west.
And of course, Oregon communities need a lawyer to defend Oregon's land use safeguards in court. In early September, Crag won a landmark case defending Measure 49, which voters approved in 2007 to stop gravel pits, subdivisions and strip malls from being built on Oregon's high-value farm and forestland. With this win, Crag ensured that Oregon neighboring property owners and the environment are not trumped by short-term grabs for profit.
"Ultimately, land use laws protect our rights," explains Ralph Bloemers. "While a minority of owners want to cease abiding by those laws so they can put subdivisions, hotels, malls, and even gravel mines in fertile farming areas and in the rural landscape, the vast majority of Oregonians want to keep the protections that will allow them to enjoy their land as they have been for generations."
In a time when organizing has to be paired with legal strategies to protect our environment, the Crag Law Center is providing essential support to Oregon's environmental movement. The court victories that Crag has secured for its clients will keep Oregon's ecosystems intact for generations to come.
Learn more about Crag on their website: www.crag.org.