In play right now in Congress are two bills that would elevate the conservation status of 442,620 acres of public land in Oregon.Read More
Wild and Scenic Rivers
When Representative Greg Walden (R-2nd-OR) hears “the Rogue,” he happily dreams of the roar of chainsaws. But now Walden is down and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-4th-OR) is up, and the stars have aligned to save the Wild Rogue. You can help.Read More
Grasslands get little respect. So easily are they converted to agriculture that grasslands are the least protected biome on Earth.Read More
Several mostly good public lands conservation bills have been introduced in the 115th Congress (2017–18) but languish in committee, unable to get a vote on the floor of the House or the Senate.Read More
Currently, less than 1 percent of Oregon streams, by mileage, are included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. An estimated additional 10,000 miles (less than 3 percent of the total mileage) of Oregon streams are eligible for inclusion.Read More
There are times when Congress acts in a visionary manner. (Is it less so today, or is it just me?) Such was the case in 1968 when it enacted into law the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.Read More
As part of the tax bill recently signed into law by President Trump, at the behest Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Congress opened up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. The next battle over drilling the in the refuge is about to commence. For the caribou and nature, each battle must be won or at least a draw. For the forces of darkness, they must only win once.Read More
Millions of acres of federal old-growth forest still stand because of former Oregon governor Barbara Roberts (D). The Upper Klamath River would have another damn dam and not be safely within the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System if not for Roberts. Oregon would have some god-awful cyanide heap leach gold mines if not for her. If not for her . . . (there’s much more).Read More
However, their cosponsoring a tundra wilderness bill in Alaska and a red rocks wilderness bill in Utah—at relatively large acreages of 1.6 and 9.1 million acres respectively—contrasts unfavorably with the Oregon congressional delegation’s efforts to conserve and restore Oregon’s green forests, tan deserts, and blue waters for the benefit of this and future generations.Read More
The congressional conservation pipeline is clogged. This is not because it is too full of fine legislation that would elevate the conservation status of certain public lands by designating wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, and other special protection areas, but because of the general dysfunction of Congress. (I hear it was worse before the Civil War.) One bill in that pipeline, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and cosponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), is the proposed Oregon Wildlands Act (OWA) of 2017 (S.1548, 115th Congress).Read More
The federal public lands along more than half of the stream mileage in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NWSRS) can be mined, notwithstanding its congressional “protection” in wild and scenic rivers (WSRs). This is because the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 (WSRA) established three different classifications for WSR segments—wild, scenic, and recreational—and banned mining or not based on the classifications. The WSRA needs fixing to offer uniform protection against mining in the NWSRS.Read More
With some tweaks, the proposed Northern California Conservation and Recreation Act can be a great bill that when enacted into law will be a gift of enduring benefit to this and future generations of North Coast Californians, all Californians, and all Americans.Read More
Who wouldn’t want “resilient” (“able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions”) forests? With the name Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (H.R.2936, 115th Congress), what could possibly be wrong with this bill?
Everything. Judge neither a book by its cover nor a bill by its name.
Introduced by Representative Bruce Westerman (R-4th-AR), the bill is the timber industry’s wet dream legislation. In only his second term in Congress, Westerman has received more campaign contributions from Big Timber than any other industry.
The Westerman bill would legislate horrifically harmful public forest policy into law.Read More
Federal conservation systems are an unqualified social good and generally provide elevated protection and better management to important federal public lands and to resources and areas of high national significance. All existing federal conservation systems could be improved, and none should be weakened or discarded. Those that haven’t yet been codified by Congress need to be.Read More
Our beloved National Wildlife Refuge System arose with little systematic thought. From President Theodore Roosevelt’s proclamations of the first “national bird reservations,” many areas have been established under a multitude of names (wildlife refuges, wildlife ranges, game ranges, wildlife management areas, waterfowl production areas, and more). What they all have in common is that their primary purpose is the conservation of native animals.Read More
In its recently revised resource management plans for western Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management has identified 290 parcels of federal public lands, ranging in size from 0.01 to 440.2 acres and totaling 18,458.95 acres, as suitable for disposal. Although disposing of 0.7 percent of the approximately 2,600,000 acres of western Oregon BLM public lands may not seem like a big deal, many of these parcels have high public values.Read More
The Snake River in Hells Canyon would be dammed today if not for former Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR). The French Pete watershed would not have been returned to its rightful place in the Three Sisters Wilderness if not for Packwood.
No, Packwood is not dead yet, but he is in his ninth decade (and with all his marbles, the last time I saw him). I am implementing a new policy to remember some Oregon public lands conservation greats before they, in words from Hamlet’s "To be, or not to be" soliloquy, “have shuffled off this mortal coil mortal coil.” It is an interesting exercise and a challenge to write a remembrance of someone not yet passed. I’ll call it a premembrance.Read More
Alas, Congress adjourned at the end of 2016 without enacting the Oregon Wildlands Act into law. We expect the bill to be reintroduced in the next Congress but are not optimistic about its passage. But while the congressional conservation pipeline may be clogged, it is not full. Now is the time for more legislation to be introduced to designate more wild and scenic rivers in Oregon.Read More
With President-elect Trump having won the Electoral College and the Republicans being in the majority of both houses of the coming 115th (2017-2018) Congress, the public lands conservation community is going to be on defense like never before.
It was either the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) or the Manassa Mauler, William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey (1895–1983) who famously said that the best defense is a good offense. The conservation community needs to be for good things while we are opposing bad things.
Though we’ve burned through one-sixth of the current century, Congress has yet to enact any sweeping and bold public lands conservation legislation in the new millennium. There’s still time though, and a crying need.
You may be questioning my grip on reality at this moment, given the recent election. While I am quite cognizant of the dark times that await us, I’m equally aware that it often takes several Congresses (two-year terms) to enact sweeping and bold legislation into law....
There is no time like the present to begin to change political reality.
If one rationally considered the probability of succeeding at elevating a discrete piece of federal public land to the status of a congressionally designated national what-have-you area (wilderness, wild and scenic river, national park, national monument, national recreation area, national wildlife refuge, or such), one might never embark on the voyage. One usually has to overcome an entrenched establishment of industry, locals, and government that doesn’t want things to change. Yet, conservationists proceed anyway, and if they are smart, clever, and persistent (with emphasis on the latter) enough, they do find success. It often takes a generation to change the world, or even a part of it.Read More