Andy Kerr

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

Congress

Selling More Heroin to Pay for Methadone: Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Part 1

Selling More Heroin to Pay for Methadone: Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Part 1

The pending tax cut legislation in Congress would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil exploitation. What does oil drilling that harasses caribou have to do with taxes? It’s a long and tangled tale,

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A Solution to Corridor Collisions: A National Wildlife Corridors System

A Solution to Corridor Collisions: A National Wildlife Corridors System

Just as it is in the public interest to have systems of corridors for the movement of vehicles, oil, gas, electrons, and water, it is in the public interest to have a system of corridors for wildlife.

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Public Lands Conservation in Congress: Stalled by the Extinction of Green Republicans

Public Lands Conservation in Congress: Stalled by the Extinction of Green Republicans

Many politicians call for a return to the era of bipartisanship as a solution to any woe. This call has resonance because the bipartisan era occurred in the living memory of baby boomers. But in the long arc of history this era did not last long, and the evidence of today does not give much hope of a return to it.

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Many National Parks Arose From National Monuments

Many National Parks Arose From National Monuments

The originations of 25 of our 59 national parks, totaling 39.6 million acres, were first seeded by the establishment of a presidentially proclaimed national monument. Fourteen of these monumental 25 were established from more than one national monument proclamation, in that were expanded by later presidents.

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The National Landscape Conservation System: In Need of Rounding Out

The National Landscape Conservation System: In Need of Rounding Out

In 2000, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt created, by administrative order, the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), to “conserve, protect, and restore these nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations.”

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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.

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The Columbia River Gorge Is Dead; Long Live the Columbia River Gorge—Unless Greg Walden Has His Way

The Columbia River Gorge Is Dead; Long Live the Columbia River Gorge—Unless Greg Walden Has His Way

In 1986, Congress enacted the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act to, among other things, “establish a national scenic area to protect and provide for the enhancement of the scenic, cultural, recreational, and natural resources of the Columbia River Gorge.” In 2017, Representative Greg Walden (R-2nd-OR) proposes to throw it out the window.

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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).

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Closing the Mining Loophole for Wild and Scenic Rivers

Closing the Mining Loophole for Wild and Scenic Rivers

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.

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​​​​​​​Now That’s a Member of Congress!

​​​​​​​Now That’s a Member of Congress!

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.

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Owyhee Canyonlands: Faux Conservation and Pork Barrel Development

Owyhee Canyonlands: Faux Conservation and Pork Barrel Development

The Owyhee Canyonlands in Oregon are worthy of inclusion in the National Park System, administered by the National Park Service. Now that would be local economic development! The Owyhee Canyonlands are worthy of designation by Congress as an overarching national conservation area with underlying wilderness and wild and scenic rivers where appropriate. The Owyhee Canyonlands are not deserving of a half-assed mineral withdrawal that locks in other harmful uses.

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Preremembering Jim Weaver, Oregon Conservationist

Preremembering Jim Weaver, Oregon Conservationist

As Jim Weaver quietly lives out his days in his beloved Oregon, this and future generations are in his debt because even though he represented the congressional district ranked highest for timber production in the nation, Weaver was a strong and tireless proponent of wilderness. There are wilderness areas today safely on the map, both inside and beyond his congressional district, because Jim Weaver stood up for the wild in Oregon in ways that no elected official had done before or has done since.

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The Trump Administration Takes Out 17 International Biosphere Reserves

The United Nations recently announced twenty-three additions to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). At the same council meeting where those additions were made, a request by the United States to remove seventeen was also approved. The Trump administration has trumpeted its general disdain for the United Nations, but this withdrawal was done without fanfare and so received very little press coverage.

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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.

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Will Trump Dump National Monuments?

President Trump signed an executive order on April 26, 2017, that directs Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review sixty-two of the last three presidents’ national monument proclamations, dating back to 1996. The review will result in a final report in four months that “shall include recommendations, Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions consistent with law.”

The administration is interested in either totally abolishing, reducing in size, and/or weakening the protections for national monuments. Those prerogatives belong to Congress. If Trump tries, he’ll get a multitude of tweets saying, “See you in court!”

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National Heritage Areas: Combining the Conservation of Nature, History, and Culture with Local Economic Development

National Heritage Areas: Combining the Conservation of Nature, History, and Culture with Local Economic Development

National heritage areas (NHAs) are a way to conserve and restore important natural, historical, and cultural resources for this and future generations while at the same time generating local economic activity through tourism. NHAs are established by Congress but administered by local entities with the assistance of the National Park Service.

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