A Warrior for Conservation
Who gives up a prosperous
career to fight environmental degradation? Ralph Bloemers did, and he never looked back.
At just 40 years old, Ralph Bloemers JD’98 already has etched his legacy into the Northwest’s landscape. His four-attorney Portland environmental law firm, the Crag Law Center, regularly challenges the government, oil and timber companies and big corporations on behalf of individuals or community and environmental groups fighting to preserve the West’s most wild places and natural resources. They’ve notched some big wins in recent years: After the firm filed a lawsuit in state and federal court challenging a destination resort proposal on the north side of Mount Hood and a large old-growth timber sale, Bloemers and his colleagues worked closely with Oregon’s congressional delegation to craft successful legislation resulting in the designation of 125,000 acres of new wilderness and 85 miles of new river protection. The firm also challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s plans for a massive old-growth logging project in undesignated roadless areas in the Umatilla National Forest in Washington state, winning a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the Forest Service must disclose the quality and quantity of roadless areas within forests and must consider options that don’t log old-growth forests. Crag also won a unanimous decision in 2010 in the 9th Circuit requiring timber companies to comply with the Clean Water Act. Advocates of the law maintained for decades that the pipes, ditches and channels used by the timber industry constitute industrial point-source pollution, thus requiring companies to get permits when they channel polluted stormwater directly into a river or stream. As the case was set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court last December, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a last-minute rule amending the central regulation at issue in the case.
42 | Willamette Lawyer