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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wyden, Blumenauer Introduce Bill to Open Access to Outdoor Recreation

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 9:06 AM

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Washington, D.C. – Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer today introduced legislation to increase outdoor recreation access for visitors and boost rural economies in Oregon and nationwide.

Based on input from Oregonians about how to remove bureaucratic roadblocks to public lands, the Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act expands outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, especially underserved communities such as veterans, seniors and young people, for the first time holds federal agencies accountable for making outdoor recreation a priority and helps maintain America’s public lands.

The bill is based on draft legislation Wyden released last fall and on concerns Wyden and Blumenauer heard during a series of listening sessions they held on a statewide tour of Oregon’s Seven Wonders last summer to gather ideas about how to open access to outdoor recreation.

“It’s time for fresh recreation policies that cut through the bureaucratic red tape that chokes off opportunities for recreation in Oregon and across the country and clears the path for first-time visitors, fresh economic opportunity and new jobs in rural communities,” Wyden said. “The RNR Act puts to work the creative ideas I heard from Oregonians about how to streamline the process when it comes to opening up access to our great outdoor places.”

“Oregonians love the outdoors – it’s who we are; it’s in our DNA. From the magnificent Columbia River Gorge to lesser known trails and creeks throughout our forests, canyons, and deserts, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by places for hiking, nature-watching, biking, and other activities,” Blumenauer said. “Unfortunately, they’re not always easily accessible. Our legislation changes that, removing burdensome barriers and helping support recreation programs so that people in Oregon and across America can more easily get out to enjoy the great outdoors.”

The “RNR” Act expedites the permitting process for recreation guides and makes it easier for visitors to get recreation use permits by making all park passes available online. The bill also focuses on getting more veterans, seniors and young people outdoors by encouraging all military branches to provide servicemembers and veterans with information about outdoor recreation, encouraging more outdoor recreation and volunteer opportunities for people 55 and older and by making a certain number of free park passes available to low-income schools.

The bill requires the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to promote recreation when making land and water management decisions. It also directs the federal land management agencies to find new ways to extend recreation seasons in a sustainable way.

The bill helps maintain public lands by encouraging more volunteers to assist with trail maintenance projects and by requiring the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to choose up to 15 trails for prioritized maintenance.

The bill would also direct the federal land management agencies to study the full impacts of outdoor recreation on the economy, including how recreation creates job growth, tourism opportunities and boosts local economies.

Read a summary of the bill here.

Listen to audio here:

Sen. Ron Wyden AUDIO

Rep. Earl Blumenauer AUDIO  

Todd Davidson AUDIO




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Monday, May 7, 2012

Controversial McKenzie Logging Plan Faces Lawsuit

A controversial logging project along the McKenzie River faces a potential lawsuit from a trio of Oregon-based Environmental Groups.

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2012 at 10:09 PM

A controversial logging project along the McKenzie River faces a potential lawsuit from a trio of Oregon-based environmental groups.

The so-called Goose project on the Willamette National Forest will adversely impact endangered species habitat and unnecessarily targets old growth trees along the McKenize River in addition to expanding logging operations into the Lookout Mountain area, a potential wilderness, according to Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild, which joined Cascadia Wildlands and the Western Environmental Law Center in opposition to the 2,100-acre logging project near the small community of McKenzie Bridge.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition opposing the project since it was publicized recently, largely because of neighbors who rallied against the project, which they say was kept under wraps by the Forest Service and only scrutinized after the 45-day comment period had lapsed.

The Forest Service has since acknowledged that its notification process, which included a notice in the local paper, Eugene Register Guard and mailers to roughly 70 property owners could have been more robust. Or as McKenzie River District Ranger put it, “We dropped the ball.” The Forest Service said it has since made adjustments to the project to address the public's concerns.

Opponents including Oregon Wild say the Forest Service had a option that put more focus on restoration but opted for a more aggressive approach that shoehorns old growth logging into the plan, despite public objections. 

 

 


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