Oregon Senator Ron Wyden made a strong statement that conservation groups were anxious to hear during a Monday meeting in Bend, OR with representatives of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. When asked to speak to the importance of keeping public lands in public hands, the Senator stated the following:
“The alternative would be that federal laws, environmental laws, land management laws don’t apply any longer. I think that would be a mistake. To have our treasured federal lands run by some kind of privatized sort of approach I think would really be turning back the clock. Certainly what you would see is a body like that would not have the same kind of focus on these values we have when public lands… as hunters and anglers have always said… stay in public hands.”
To watch this exclusive interview with Senator Wyden, click here or on the image below.
Wyden also told BHA that while the Oregon Congressional delegation is focused and determined to pass new legislation for the management of the 2.4 million acres of O & C Timberlands, language in a bill introducedby Representative Peter DeFazio of Eugene will undoubtedly be changed in a Senate version. That bill calls for about half the lands to be placed in a state trust and will come up for a House vote in late September. Wyden is expected to introduce his version of thebill in September. Regardless of the differences, Wyden says the Oregon Congressional delegation is committed to passage of new legislation.
On July 1, Wyden told a town hall meeting in Albany that this bill is his “top priority”. The O & C lands have been a source of revenue for 18 Western Oregon counties for years, but revenues have been dwindling with a decrease in logging and counties are pressuring lawmakers to write new legislation to increase logging and revenues.
In late July, Senator Wyden’s office asked BHA to identify areasimportant to hunters within the O & C complex. On August 10th, BHA members met in Bend and drew up a mapwhich wasdelivered to Wyden on August 26th. The mapidentified eleven areas for their value as wild lands, andwherean ecologically sustainable logging approach could lead to better forage for wildlife while protecting streams and rivers for fishing. Additionally, BHA is calling for a reduction of open road densities across all O&C lands, and for a collaborative management approach in the new legislation.
BHA co-chair Ed Putnam told Wyden that Backcountry Hunters & Anglers advocate a balanced logging approach that will benefit both counties and hunters and anglers. Putnam said “We would like a seat at the decision-making table for the management of these lands.” Wyden told BHA he also supports a balanced management approach and that collaborative management and road density issues “ought to be a part of what the federal government considers.” Wyden’s comments can be viewed here.