By BHA's Oregon Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator, Brian Jennings.
Now that the Feds have gone back to work, we can get back to hunting and fishing on public lands that were shutdown to access. And, we can expect to hear more about expected legislation from Senator Ron Wyden impacting 2.4 million acres in Western Oregon known as the O&C lands (Oregon & California Rail lands). BHA has been following this issue closely and we have advocated a balanced use strategy which will protect back country habitat for hunters & anglers while at the same time increase logging in a scientific way to help boost needed revenues for jobs in 18 Western Oregon counties. This past summer, Oregon BHA members at the invitation of Wyden’s office came up with a map designating areas BHA would like set aside for special habitat conservation. The map was well received by Senator Wyden and his staff because of the balanced nature of BHA's position on the management of O&C Lands.
In the meantime, the House passed its version of legislation early this fall to increase logging. But, this plan also would create a state land trust for conservation of 1.6 million of these treasured acres. The plan has no chance of passage in the Senate and the White House says it would veto such legislation. Essentially, it would take this land out of Federal public ownership and require state control. This means laws such as NEPA and other protections would be void and Oregon doesn’t have the money or the infrastructure to manage them according to many. You can read more here.
Last month, the Oregonian published an editorial urging a “middle ground” in this fight to protect the backcountry for hunters & anglers while at the same time increasing sustainable logging for counties. It is the strategy that Senator Wyden’s office is following and we can expect his legislation to reflect that requirement.
Oregon BHA met with Senator Wyden’s staff in Washington DC in September before the government shutdown. Now, we can soon expect the Senator to unveil his proposed legislation. As he put it in July – it is his “top priority” as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. BHA stands ready to help shape this important legislation.
To learn more about the work that Oregon BHA is doing on behalf of sportsmen and wildlife that depend on quality public land habitat, click here.