Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

National Recreation Area

Filling the Congressional Conservation Pipeline for When It Unclogs

Filling the Congressional Conservation Pipeline for When It Unclogs

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

Oregon’s Wildlands Should Matter At Least as Much to Oregon Legislators as Alaska's and Utah's

Oregon’s Wildlands Should Matter At Least as Much to Oregon Legislators as Alaska's and Utah's

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

Dancing on the Dark Side: Wyden Guts His Own National Recreation Area System Bill

Dancing on the Dark Side: Wyden Guts His Own National Recreation Area System Bill

Senator Ron Wyden had a visionary and bold bill that would establish a National Recreation Area System. I strongly supported that legislative provision in a post to this Public Lands Blog.... I heaped praise on the Wyden-Blumenauer bill that would have established generally strong conservation and management standards for new national recreation areas.... Now I must heap scorn on the Wyden-Bishop bill. The section that would establish a National Recreation Area System has been gutted of any significant conservation value and would only change the color on the map, but not management on the ground.

Read More

The Proposed Oregon Wildlands Act of 2017: Very Good but Not Yet Great

The Proposed Oregon Wildlands Act of 2017: Very Good but Not Yet Great

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 Westerman Bill: The Timber Industry’s Wet Dream

The Westerman Bill: The Timber Industry’s Wet Dream

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 Systems for the Conservation and Enjoyment of Lands and Waters

Federal Systems for the Conservation and Enjoyment of Lands and Waters

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

Privatizing Federal Public Lands in Western Oregon

Privatizing Federal Public Lands in Western Oregon

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

Preremembering Bob Packwood, Oregon Conservationist

Preremembering Bob Packwood, Oregon Conservationist

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

A Stage Theory of Elevating the Status of Federal Public Lands

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

A National System of National Recreation Areas

National forest ranger districts are so 20th century. They were created in an era when “multiple use” meant logging and grazing—other uses be damned—as local economies were based on exploiting nature. However, in the 21st century, local communities can make more money by helping people enjoy natural values on public lands....

With declining commodity industries and a growing outdoor recreation industry—as well as increased concern for watersheds, ecosystems, and native species—it’s time for a 21st-century management structure for the nation’s national forests. It’s time to replace Forest Service ranger districts with national recreation areas (NRAs) as the fundamental management unit—and to do the same for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Read More