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Management Act contains protections for Oregon

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Natural Resources Management Act, which includes protections for public lands and rivers here in Oregon. As an outfitter on the Rogue and Chetco Rivers I am particularly appreciative of the additional protections these rivers will receive once President Trump signs this legislation.

The bipartisan Natural Resources Management Act, which the Senate overwhelmingly passed earlier this month, protects approximately 1.4 million acres of new wilderness and 620 miles of rivers, permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and establishes new national monuments, recreation areas, and off-highway vehicle recreation areas.

In Oregon, it protects over 250 miles of rivers under the Wild and Scenic River Act, protects the magical Chetco River from mining, and establishes the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness. It also adjusts a Wilderness Study Area near Bend to allow for better wildfire protection, renames Squaw Creek as Whychus Creek, and designates the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area on the North Umpqua River.

This public lands package also includes the Alaska Native Vietnam era veterans land allotment which allows Native Alaskan veterans that missed a previous homesteading opportunity to claim BLM lands as homesteads. This part of the Act will reduce the amount of public lands managed by the Federal Government. There are also provisions that make it easier for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting on public lands.

This legislation shows that Democrats and Republicans can work together to ensure overall better management and use of our public lands. I am appreciative of Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley as well as Reps. Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio for working hard to secure important protections Oregonians want for federal public lands and rivers in Oregon. Our congressional delegation has worked together for many years to make this happen.

And, there is more work ahead to protect iconic places in Oregon. Efforts to protect the rugged land surrounding the wild section of the Rogue River, an important economic driver for Southern Oregon, have been years in the making. I also hope we can revisit the best way to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands in Southeast Oregon.

We are lucky to have incredible public lands and rivers in this state and we need to continue working with our federal legislators to make sure our iconic landscapes are properly managed and protected to support conservation, recreation, and our local economies.

Zachary Collier is the owner of Northwest Rafting Company (https://www.nwrafting.com), a river outfitter on the Rogue, Owyhee, Chetco, Illinois and Salmon Rivers.