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Community groups to discuss Rogue River Basin water issues Saturday in Medford

The Illinois River near Selma, OR.
Erik Neumann
The Illinois River near Selma, OR.

Two activist groups focused on water issues are coming together to host an educational event for the public in Medford this weekend.

The Water Action Community event is being organized by the Cave Junction-based Water League and volunteer group Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance.

The event will cover themes including water rights and water law; equity between domestic, industrial and commercial water users; indigenous perspectives about water; and legal principles like the Public Trust Doctrine and Rights of Nature.

Christopher Hall is the executive director of Water League. He says for decades the public has been left out of outreach about water issues that affect their lives.

“For the public to be able to have agency, to have a voice and to have an idea about how they can contribute, it’s best that they can understand some of these important concepts,” Hall said.

The free public event is a way to help educate people about water in the Rogue River Basin – a region of Oregon that’s dealt with ongoing years of drought. Much of Jackson County is currently in severe drought, according to NOAA.

The event is intended to bring community members together to learn about water issues and develop stewardship goals throughout 2023.

“The power I think of going forward is going to be bringing people together for meaningful conversations. These groups [and] people will self-identify with what they’re drawn to and come up with specific actions,” said Lorraine Cook, an event organizer with the Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance.

The Water Action Community event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Medford library from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Erik Neumann is JPR's news director. He earned a master's degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and joined JPR as a reporter in 2019 after working at NPR member station KUER in Salt Lake City.