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Jan-02-2010 12:22printcomments

New Column: 'Odd Man Out' Will Clear the Air Over Environmental Contaminants

In 2001, Roger was acclaimed as one of the Top 5 enviro-activists in Orange County by the LA Times editorial staff.

Roger Butow, Salem-News.com's Odd man Out
Roger Butow is Salem-News.com's new 'Odd Man Out'

(LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.) - A brand new feature for 2010, Odd Man Out is a new Salem-News.com environmental segment that is the creation of Roger von Bütow, a professional environmental consultant. Written exclusively for the Salem-News, it's intended as the next evolutionary step on the path of an eco-warrior.

Roger is a Southern California native who spent his formative years as a racial minority: A blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfer on the mean streets of the LA Harbor area. Running from gangs eventually trained him for his high school and collegiate track and cross-country career. Going to college part-time, disqualified for a student deferment, when his draft notice arrived in a fit of machisimo he joined the USMC in 1965, eventually attached to the 3rd Marine Air Wing.

Once honorably discharged, he resumed his college studies, majoring in philosophy. He dropped out in early 1972 when an opportunity to travel in Europe inexpensively for 6 months was too good to pass up. Upon returning, he and his former wife ended up in Laguna Beach, and though the marriage didn’t last his love of the place is in its 38th year.

Disgusted by chronic sewage spills and toxic urban runoff pollution that triggered constant beach closures in his area, he formed “Clean Water Now!” in 1998. Local surfers, skimmers and divers were pissed off, but there wasn’t a cohesive, unified and aggressive group response, zero leadership or activism facilitated by the Surfrider Foundation or Sierra Club regarding water quality impairment issues.

Initially, CWN! was a high profile, confrontational, “in-your-face” home grown activist coalition of like-minded groups and individuals outraged by the systemic contamination of local watersheds, streams and Pacific tidal zones in South OC. Many on the founding board jumped ship when they saw the extremes, the radical adversarial tactics Roger encouraged and implemented to achieve his goals. They dropped out, CWN! moved onward and upward.

CWN! eventually stood out from other mainstream groups because of its EPA enforcement action achievements, its unorthodox strategies and willingness to take the fight to South OC city councils, to the OC Board of Supervisors, to any public pillory venue where it could embarrass the intransigence of government and note the evils of over-development.

Roger and his key aide, Michael Hazzard, on their own and without legal counsel or gross funds, forced Caltrans, the County of Orange and the 12 municipalities of South OC into spending millions to remove water-borne pollutants from the local watersheds and beaches. Before CWN! literally put these violators under siege in the late 90’s through early 2000’s, water quality departments in these cities were non-existent.

In 1999, Roger and Mike devised the “Toxic Soup Tour,” an up-close and personally guided tour of toxic hot spots throughout the South OC watersheds that gained tremendous media attention. Roger, assisted by Mike, took reporters, NGO attorneys, tons of media and even government officials to places where giant pools of urban runoff were being used as recreational swimming and wading opportunities by unsuspecting children.

In 2001, Roger was acclaimed as one of the Top 5 enviro-activists in Orange County by the LA Times editorial staff. Contemporaneously, he was deposed and subsequently given personal accolades by the OC Grand Jury in their scathing rebuke of South OC public agency failures to deal with the decimating effects of urban runoff on aquatic ecologies.

CWN! switched from outrage to outreach around 2002 and is now primarily focused upon its award-winning California Coastal Commission beach cleanup and public education programs.

Roger remains hungry and motivated, constantly seeking new challenges, and as a by-product of that journey had the good fortune to cross paths with the Salem-News crew over the fiasco of the US Government’s questionable remediation of MCAS El Toro insidious soil and aquifer contamination.

His column is dedicated to the memory of his very German father, Hermann, the stoic tugboat captain who by his example instilled in Roger as a child the pure love of Nature that burns bright some 60+ years later. Thanks, Dad, hope you're as proud of me as I am of you.

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'Odd Man Out'Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger von Bütow, a professional environmental consultant. Written exclusively for the Salem-News, it's intended as the next evolutionary step on the path of an eco-warrior.

Roger is a Southern California native who spent his formative years as a racial minority: A blonde-haired, blue-eyed surfer on the mean streets of the LA Harbor area. Running from gangs eventually trained him for his high school and collegiate track and cross-country career. Going to college part-time, disqualified for a student deferment, when his draft notice arrived in a fit of machisimo he joined the USMC in 1965, eventually attached to the 3rd Marine Air Wing.

Once honorably discharged, he resumed his college studies, majoring in philosophy. He dropped out in early 1972 when an opportunity to travel in Europe inexpensively for 6 months was too good to pass up. Upon returning, he and his former wife ended up in Laguna Beach, and though the marriage didn’t last his love of the place is in its 38th year.

Disgusted by chronic sewage spills and toxic urban runoff pollution that triggered constant beach closures in his area, he formed “Clean Water Now!” in 1998. Local surfers, skimmers and divers were pissed off, but there wasn’t a cohesive, unified and aggressive group response, zero leadership or activism facilitated by the Surfrider Foundation or Sierra Club regarding water quality impairment issues. You can write to Roger at: rogerbutow@mac.com

SEE STAFF LINK FOR THE REMAINDER OF ROGER'S BIOGRAPHY




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