Save Our ecoSystems was incorporated as a non profit organization in Oregon in 1979, and has a very long list of accomplishments. We called  it “SOS” as an acronym.  In its incorporation papers, we stated its Mission as follows:

 The primary purpose of the corporation shall be to educate and inform the public about environmental issues, especially to increase awareness of the finite and fragile nature of the earth’s resources, of the inter-relation of all living things, and of their dependence upon these finite resources.  In short, the corporation’s purpose is to focus public opinion on the fact that survival now depends on the need to Save Our ecoSystems.

Update, 2014.  SOS, acting on these principles, achieved many victories  throughout the 1980’s and beyond 2000, culminating in the landmark victory in federal court (SOS v Clarke 746 F2nd 1240).   This victory,    along with other lawsuits, actually stopped much of the herbicide spraying in our federal forests for a number of years.  Building on this victory, SOS achieved moratoriums on the  pesticide spraying of school grounds, roadsides and (incredibly) water.  Additionally  SOS brought pressure to bear and positive changes in other areas such as animal trapping and  wetlands. And,  in 1990 we stopped a federal highway from being built through Lane County’s largest wetlands!

Update 2015.  SOS is in the process of dissolving its corporate status.   Remaining funds will be allocated to four non profits with missions similar to those of SOS. 


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Herbicides are spawning a tragedy

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Herbicides are spawning a tragedy
Published: (Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011

Laboratory confirmation of powerful toxic chemicals found in the bodies of Triangle Lake residents, while shocking, is not surprising to us. Citizens throughout Oregon have pleaded for decades for an end to this “rain of terror.”

Ever since Agent Orange (2,4-D plus 2,4,5-T) was brought home after the Vietnam War, the forest industry has been using herbicides originally designed for chemical warfare. Dr. Michael Newton of Oregon State University ordered these chemicals from the Air Force to destroy “unwanted vegetation” that competed with Oregon’s commercial crop, Douglas fir, for sun and soil. This practice has resulted in toxic contamination of water, soil, air, wildlife, plants and people.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency stopped 2,4,5-T in an emergency cancellation, the use of 2,4-D has continued unabated, and indeed is one of the most widely used toxic chemicals in America. It is 2,4-D and Atrazine that were found in the urine of Triangle Lake residents, even children. The newspapers have been filled with letters on this subject. Some herbicide victims have written entire books on the war against these poisons, having experienced illness and the death of animals.

Our organization won a federal lawsuit in 1983. It was later combined on appeal with Vietnam veteran Paul Merrell’s case against the U.S. Forest Service, and was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1984. The court’s ruling concluded, “The entire spraying program of both agencies should be halted until they comply with NEPA,” the National Environmental Policy Act.

Several lawsuits in a row came during the 1970s and ’80s, all of them victorious. Herbicide spraying of public forests became illegal — but the cessation was temporary, and the spray programs on private forests have never even paused.

Our own lawsuit, Save Our ecoSystems vs. Clark, was recently declared “moot” (or cancelled) without notifying us, by entities unknown to us. Also cancelled without notification was the Southern Oregon Citizens Against Toxic Sprays case preceding ours, certified by the U.S. Supreme Court when it refused a further hearing to the opponents.

It matters not whether the herbicides’ target is “invasive species” or the “unwanted growth” of non-commercial trees, the results are the same: the environment and our health are being sacrificed. Scientific information is readily available about the chemicals’ toxicity, their role in cancer and birth defects; their effect on frogs, bees and other wildlife; and their effects on dogs, our water and the entire environment. Encyclopedic information is available from us ( or from dozens of other environmental organizations. Beware of disinformation from those who profit from the manufacture, dissemination and use of these dangerous chemicals.

One of our struggles with these sprays started back in the 1970s. Barbara Kelley moved from smoggy Los Angeles to a lovely spot in the Cascade foothills. Beautiful Oregon! But the logging started, the giant trees came crashing down, and the mountain shook. Later the herbicide spraying began, and the air was filled with a terrible stench. The postmistress in Dorena said she could see the helicopters spraying just above Barbara’s farm, and the required notice was posted on her bulletin board.

Kelley’s little paradise became a death valley; many of her animals died, and she would never be the same. She developed a lifelong case of diabetes, although she weighed 130 pounds at the time, worked all day, and had no diabetes in her family. A little research and the acquisition of an Environmental Impact Statement led her to realize that she had been poisoned by Agent Orange, which can cause diabetes. Vietnam veterans who were exposed and contracted diabetes were, and are, compensated.

Kelley’s dream collapsed, she buried her dead and moved. She then started a non-profit organization — Save Our ecoSystems Inc., or SOS. Members wrote newspaper columns, talked to classes, went to Washington, D.C., stopped the spraying of 2,4-D and Atrazine on public school grounds, sued the federal government, and won.

Triangle Lake residents are tucked into a valley that is mercilessly sprayed with herbicides. We congratulate them on proving that these very toxic chemicals have invaded their bodies. To trespass upon the bodies of others is surely a crime, and we believe it should be treated as such. We cannot wait for those who take it upon themselves to spray toxic chemicals into the environment to reform themselves. We believe that our governor should use his authority to issue an executive order. There is a tragedy before him. We want him to save the beautiful state of Oregon, its environment and the health of its people.

Barbara Kelley, formerly of Eugene, is the founder of Save Our ecoSystems Inc. She currently lives in Lake Oswego. Kim Kauffman is a board member of SOS.

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the BLM v. the Public

Toward Restoring the Special Trust: the BLM v. the Public
By Barbara Kelley
Published on Saturday, February 19th, 2011
Dear “Friends and Countrymen,”

After many years as an “eco-warrior” in Lane County, I moved to Portland to retire and write my book. Of course I haven’t done either so far, as environmental issues keep calling me. (I guess it is a calling.)

Currently, my organization Save Our ecoSystems inc (SOS), and several other groups and individuals throughout Oregon, have appealed a huge and very dangerous plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Bureau for Bad Land Management, if you like.

Back in the 80′s, SOS and several other organizations won injunctions against BLM spray programs. One went all the way to the Supreme Court, followed by an order from the Departments of the Interior and of Agriculture to cease and desist spraying the public forests–period. There had been widespread revelation by the people, and by scientists, that were making headlines–the herbicides were putting both animals and people at risk for birth defects, contaminating waters, animals, fish and breast milk, plus a long list of threats to wildlife and all living beings. I, for example, became a diabetic for life, like so many of the Vietnam Veterans. It was heartbreaking to watch our young farm animals die, despite the best of care, and to see baby goats born with birth defects. They were spraying Agent Orange in forest operations behind our farm.

The federal agencies were finally forced to stop spraying the public forests, although it has continued unabated in the private forests, exposing the entire environment in those areas. Unfortunately the BLM has changed its focus from silvaculture to plants and now proposes to put us through this all over again. They have been part of a growing determination to eradicate the “invasives,” the “noxious,” and even some of the native plants. And so, they have formed an alliance with many members of the environmental community in a pseudoscientific determination that these plants must be eradicated, I feel this is counter-evolution, and counter-intuitive. BLM is back again with its spray guns and helicopters, and its arsenal of toxic herbicides. What happened to all those injunctions earlier obtained in a series of lawsuits in the 70′s and 80′s? I have just learned that they managed to have the injuctions of SOS and SOCATS mooted without any notice to us.

Several organizations, including SOS and SOCATS, and many individuals, have therefore filed administrative appeals. Having jumped through that hoop, we now seek a star attorney to help us fight back once again in court.

The BLM offers, in its new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to make toxic herbicides available to the Oregon district managers who want to wipe out plants they consider to be interfering with other plants, business and agicultural objectives or even (their idea of) esthetics. They propose to permit the use of toxics for any unwanted growth anywhere on BLM lands, and even on schoolgrounds leased from the BLM They are offering an expanded arsenal of toxics to BLM managers throughout Oregon, after an assessment is done. Some of the permitted herbicides, and some of the chemicals mixed with them, are carcinogenic.

The use of carcinogenic chemicals on our public lands ought to be unthinkable. Herbicides have been known to lodge in body fat, human organs, and breast milk ducts, which can result in ductal carcinoma, and/or poison baby’s first drink. Cancer kills more children under 15 than any other disease (American Cancer Society, 2009, which also predicted that 10,730 US children would be diagnosed with cancer in 2009) I don’t think this is from smoking or germs.

Our era is sometimes described as the “sixth era of planetary mass extinctions,” with about 20,000 species going extinct per year (Yale School of Forestry) The BLM now proposes to hasten this process and to further shrink biodiversity achieved through millions of years of evolution. Their insane plan would pollute the waters of BLM lands, which of course run down to waters everywhere, including the water you drink and that vital to the life of fish and animals. Spraying toxics would also threaten peoples who use certain wild plants for healing and eating. Direct hits or drift could poison the plants as well as the animals and people who consume them. The BLM has not taken precautions to protect plant gatherers and healers.

You own this land, the BLM only (mis) manages it. Protect yourself, call your district manager, and insist that you will not tolerate such exposure. We cannot predict the future, but we can help to determine it.

for our Earth,

Barbara Kelley, Director,
Save Our ecoSystems (SOS)

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Barbara Kelley introduction to (SOS) SaveOurecoSystems Inc.

Barbara Kelley moved to Oregon from Los Angeles in 1973. In 1979, she founded Save Our ecoSystems (SOS) and in 1983, SOS filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from spraying herbicides. SOS won that lawsuit. Between 1985 and 1994, Kelley ran the first copy shop that used only recycled paper. A Eugene resident since 1980, she’s been active in a wide range of environmental issues, and is currently focusing on wetlands reform. One of her favorite mottoes is, “I can’t grow my roots in cement.”

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