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Toni Woolsey - Jackson County

Toni Woolsey moved to the tiny town of Trail, Oregon with her family when she was six years old. Her family's property overlooks the Rogue River. Pembina wants to run the pipeline under the Rogue and to the left of her house. Toni has spent years building trails, managing trees, and making other improvements. She intends to stay there for the rest of her life, and no amount of money can convince her otherwise. 

Deep roots

I’ve lived here since 1948. When my family bought this property, there was nothing here. Actually, people were dumping garbage. We had to crawl over garbage to go out and see the river. My parents built their dream home on this piece of property. My childhood was all wrapped up in that. I would practice my ballet dancing on the subfloor as they were putting things together.

This property is not for sale. It’s been in my family for 69 years. I grew up on it. My father died, had a heart attack and died while he was trying to write us a goodbye note. So then I move up here and take care of my mother and she dies in my arms probably not 10 feet away from where my father died. Unless I get in a wreck and am out on the road, this is where I plan on dying, is on this property.

 

It’s my hope that some of my family—my daughters or grandkids—will want to live here someday and keep it on. I love the land. I love Mother Nature. I find myself either talking to God or talking to Mom when I’m out in the yard working.

 
Fish and wildfire

Where Trail Creek runs into the river is a spawning bed. Man does not decide where a spawning bed is going to go. The fish decide. Nature decides. So when you destroy a natural spawning bed you wreak havoc with Mother Nature—already the fish are not coming up here like they used to. We’re already losing a lot of our fishermen, a lot of our tourist trade, because the salmon run gets less and less every year.

There’s not one good reason to have this pipeline anywhere in the state of Oregon. It’s not beneficial to Mother Nature. It’s not going to create jobs for us. It’s like when they did the dam. We had workers out the yin-yang. They were from Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky. After the dam was in, the only people left who had permanent jobs were the ones that work at the hatchery and the ones who work at the spillway. But the dam, we needed it. This we don’t need.

A misuse of eminent domain

None of this gas is coming to Oregon. My whole life I’ve been told that we here in the United States need to take care of our natural resources so we can be self-sufficient and don’t have to get gas from other countries. And now we find out that we have more natural resources than we thought; now we have so much due to fracking that we’re going to sell it to Asian countries.

 

So they’re going to declare eminent domain on private land. In the beginning America needed to have eminent domain so we could have power lines, electricity, phone lines. How could we have ever advanced without those things? It was for the betterment of the people who lived here. But this is for the benefit of a Canadian company so they can make money by selling gas to foreign countries. And rape our state to do it, so they can make money off us. And we’re the ones who pay the price. 

There’s no place else I’d rather be. Ed says, well, if they paid you a bunch of money you could buy a place wherever you want. But it wouldn’t mean anything to me.

What if there’s a fire? The pipeline company says, “Oh, we’ll get there as soon as we can.” What the hell do they think they’re gonna do? There’s nothing they can do. It will burn until it burns out.

Toni Woolsey is an artist and ran a successful greeting card business for many years. More recently she has been creating miniature paintings on rocks. The shape of the rock "tells" Toni what it wants to be. Her art and her garden offer a respite from thinking about the pipeline.