In a statement issued Tuesday, Roseburg’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stuart Gray said, “The ongoing litigation around our water rights in Weed, California, does not concern Roseburg’s FSC certification.”

The Weed 9 and Water for Citizens of Weed, California filed a complaint with the Forest Stewardship Council alleging that Roseburg is using “abusive tactics” to gain control of the City of Weed’s source of drinking water, Beaughan Springs, alleging they mistreat the community and violate human rights guidelines.

The complaint was submitted to the Germany-based FSC organization, which certifies forest products companies and brings into question whether Roseburg deserves the “green” and “sustainable” labels on its products, according to WCWC.

The WCWC asserts that an important part of the FSC’s certification process includes “human rights and how they treat the communities in which they operate.”

The FSC complaint process will take 60 or 90 days, according to the WCWC’s website.

“The United Nations and the State of California both recognize access to water as a basic human right,” said Geneva Omann of WCWC. “By trying to take away our community’s water, and then suing anyone who spoke out on the issue, Roseburg has acted with disregard for basic human rights and the well-being of our community.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, Roseburg’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Stuart Gray said, “The ongoing litigation around our water rights in Weed, California, does not concern Roseburg’s FSC certification.”

Gray said the city’s water has been assured by a new water lease agreement that gives the city time to replace “the small portion of the city’s water that the lease agreement represents.”

“The water from the Beaughan Spring feeds about 500 of the City’s 1,100 water hookups,” said Weed City Councilor Bob Hall.

Hall is one of the Weed 9, a group that’s made up of former and current Weed City Council members, a current planning commissioner and former mill workers and their spouses.

The Weed 9, the WCWC, and the City of Weed are the current subjects of a lawsuit brought by Roseburg.

While City of Weed may have “strong legal and ethical arguments on its side,” the lawsuit is draining the town’s finances, according to a press release from WCWC. “Just because the company might be able to use its enormous legal and financial resources to pursue its case against the City of Weed and the nine residents, doesn’t mean that it is the ethical or right thing to do.”

According to a WCWC press release, the City of Weed has spent more than $400,000 in legal fees fighting the lawsuit.

Roseburg’s products are currently certified green and sustainably harvested by FSC. WCWC President Jim Taylor said he doesn’t believe the company deserves the label.

“We are calling on the Forest Stewardship Council to revoke the company’s [FSC] certification until Roseburg begins to act in a more responsible and ethical manner. Sustainability needs to be based on partnership with local communities, not on bullying.”

The Weed 9, the WCWC, and the City of Weed are in the midst of a lawsuit brought by Roseburg.

The lawsuit is draining the town’s finances, according to a press release from WCWC.

“Characterizing this dispute as anything more than a matter of property rights is inaccurate,” said Gray. “The City of Weed and its leadership are providing for and meeting the water needs of their citizens... Contrary to WCWC’s position, no one is being deprived of water in Weed, and there are no human rights issues involved in this matter.”

According to the WCWC press release, the City of Weed has spent more than $400,000 in legal fees fighting the lawsuit.

The lumber town of Weed was founded in the 1890s by Abner Weed and has utilized Beaughan Spring since the early 1900s, said Hall.

Roseburg’s lawsuit against WCWC and the nine citizens was dismissed by a judge in November, 2017 although litigation is moving forward against the city.

Roseburg has appealed the decision.

The Weed 9, Protect the Protest and other supporters protested at Roseburg’s Springfield, Ore., headquarters in December, 2018.

In a letter Weed’s Jim Taylor delivered at the protest in December, he had two requests: that the lawsuit be dropped and to “honor the intention of its predecessor company – International Paper – to officially recognize the town’s rights to the spring water.”