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Onward! For our O&C Lands and Waters

Friday, July 17, 2015

Earlier this month, I attended Senator Wyden and Travel Oregon’s Seven Wonders of Oregon Tour. More than a tour around our beautiful state, these events were an opportunity for business leaders to speak up about what matters most to us. As the Executive Director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, I represent more than 300 businesses across the Pacific Northwest.

Our industry’s economic health is directly linked to thriving, healthy rivers. Without cool, clean water and robust salmon and steelhead runs, our boats don’t leave the dock. Whether visitors or long-time Oregonians, people need to access these special places, to recreate and nourish their relationships and souls, all while sustaining rural economies. A recent study done by Southwick Associates revealed that 65% of the more than 11,000 Oregon jobs in the sportfishing industry are derived from this healthy public land base. Having access to protected wild places and rivers forms the bedrock of our collective human spirit—and of our sportfishing economy.

And we’re not alone. At Senator Wyden’s Seven Wonders events throughout our great state, I, and others from the sportfishing community stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other business leaders from the outdoor recreation community. We heard rafting guides and marketing directors of international companies all come together on one thing: protecting special places is invaluable to our businesses and to the future of Oregon.

Western Oregon is home to some of the most outstanding ancient forests, healthy rivers, salmon and steelhead runs, and recreation opportunities in our nation. Access to these productive lands and rivers is of key importance to our businesses, and to protecting our quality of life.

I have spent my life on Oregon’s and sense the urgency for protecting public lands and rivers, especially now with our state’s population growing and our climate changing.. With drought and scorching heat this summer, many of Oregon’s lower elevation rivers are at temperatures that are lethal to salmon and steelhead populations, both juveniles and adults—most will likely die before spawning. This critical situation punctuates why we respectfully ask Senator Wyden to continue to protect even more of Oregon’s headwater wildlands and signature rivers like the North Umpqua and the McKenzie.

Yesterday, Congress held a hearing on several proposed bills, one of those was Senator Wyden’s Oregon and California Lands Act of 2015. Senator Wyden has continued to show leadership in Congress, especially with his balanced framework for legislation to resolve the Oregon and California (O&C) timberlands management issue. Finding the right balance is the key to Oregon’s future economic growth and I believe Senator Wyden’s legislation on O&C lands is an important step in the right direction.  

All Oregonians know that we boast many more than Seven Wonders in our beautiful state. Thank you to Senator Wyden for understanding the connection between public lands and waters, recreation and business. We look forward to continuing our work to safeguard even more of Oregon in the future, including key headwater wilderness and stretches of rivers throughout the O&C Lands. Onward!

Liz Hamilton

Executive Director
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association

Senator Wyden Reintroduces His O&C Lands Legislation

Friday, January 09, 2015

The writer Dorothea Brande once said, Act as if it were impossible to fail.

Clearly, Oregon's senior Senator has a similar mantra.  After bringing his O&C lands bill close to passage last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) picked up where he left off and reintroduced his bill the very first week of this new Congress. While not a perfect measure for either conservationists or timber interests, S.132 is a balanced and reasonable approach to an issue that has troubled Oregon for decades.  The bill protects over 1.5 million acres of some of the states most wild and ecologically important ancient forests while at the same time increasing current harvest levels.  Senator Wyden's commitment to getting this bill enacted exemplifies how a true statesman can find compromise amongst diverse interests to help bring both economic and environmental prosperity to his state.

"Senator Wyden's O&C bill will increase harvests and improve forest health while increasing protections for some of our most cherished places in Oregon," Senator Jeff Merkley said in a statement.

Protecting Public Land

The land protections in this bill are varied and numerous. They include:

  • Two wilderness areas - the Wild Rogue and Devil's Staircase.
  • Two recreation areas, the Rogue National Recreation Area (NRA) which encircles the Wild Rogue Wilderness, and the Molalla River NRA -- a haven for fishermen and boaters alike. 
  • Seven Primitive Backcountry Areas totaling 52,300 acres of ecological gems.
  • Protective Environmental Zones, all current and prospective agency identified areas of critical environmental concern, totaling almost 96,000 acres.
  • Perhaps most impressive, the bill safeguards more than 600,000 acres of ancient forests,  defining these legacy forests as all ¼ acre or greater stands with trees 85 years and older. 

These are just a few of the more than 25 separate land protection designations in the bill.

Safeguarding Clean Water

S. 132 also safeguards critical water sources. The O&C lands supply clean drinking water for nearly 2 million Oregonians. 

  • The bill legislates the Northwest Forest Plan’s Aquatic Conservation Strategy, a plan that has improved water quality throughout these forests. 
  • More than 250 miles of our majestic and wild rivers – including tributaries of the Rogue, the Nestucca, and the Umpqua – would be safeguarded as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and special drinking water areas would be created for Eugene, Clackamas, Springfield, and other communities. 
  • New protections for some of western Oregon's greatest salmon and steelhead rivers and streams are also part of this legislation. From the Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary in the North Umpqua Valley in the east, to the Illinois Valley Salmon and Botanical Special Management Unit in the south, to the Kiltches Wild Salmon Preserve in the northwestern part of the state, Senator Wyden's bill ensures the protection of wild salmon and steelhead and the clean, cool waters that they call home.

Sustaining Local Communities

Our rural communities will benefit from the jobs created by this bill through growth in the outdoor recreation and timber industries. In fact, the bill will more than double timber production on these lands through a more ecologically-friendly management approach than currently allowed under the Northwest Forest Plan. It's a clear win for Oregonians, and an opportunity that Congress shouldn’t let pass.

We urge our House members, both Republican and Democrat, to follow Senator Wyden's lead and ensure Oregonians can both play and prosper in our forests.

Act as if it were impossible to fail.  Our rural communities and future generations are counting on it.

O&C Lands are Holding Together our Salmon Sustaining Ecosystems

Monday, December 01, 2014

As a filmmaker who has spent a number of years documenting salmonid populations of the West Coast, it is very clear that Oregon’s O&C lands are holding together what is left of salmon sustaining ecosystems.  A majority of these lands are in the headwaters of Oregon’s legendary rivers; rivers that have some of the most stable wild populations of steelhead and salmon on the West Coast.

Protection of these lands is essential for the future of our fishing and hunting legacy, and our way of life in the Pacific Northwest.  These O&C lands act as sanctuary for our fragile wild populations of salmonids and offer up much needed refugia, and also provide clean drinking water to many of Oregon's municipalities.  We cannot afford to lose the habitat along these rivers, or the benefits they provide to countless Oregonians.  Wild salmon and steelhead provide a huge economic boost to the rural regions of Oregon and it would be a travesty to put them at risk from further pressures caused by habitat degradation. 

The North Umpqua river has one of the most stable wild steelhead and salmon populations on the West Coast and we cannot afford to put that river at risk for short term profits.  I applaud the proposed Frank Moore Wild Steelhead Sanctuary created on Steamboat Creek in Senator Wyden's O&C Lands Act.  I urge Senator Wyden to add Canton Creek to the sanctuary, one of Steamboat’s most productive tributaries.  I was at Canton Creek in August to produce a short film for Pacific Rivers Council about a seasoned stream ecologist who dons a wetsuit and gets in the water with high school students to survey Canton’s salmonids every summer.  This scientist and the students speak eloquently about the connections between forest health, stream health, and abundant fish. Failing to include Canton Creek in the Frank Moore Sanctuary would be a great misfortune.

I also applaud the proposed designation of 252 miles of new Wild and Scenic River designations, and more than 87,000 acres of wilderness areas contained in Wyden's bill.  I hope the Senator will stand strong against any challenges to these protections, and work to add the McKenzie, Mt. Hebo, and Kalmiopsis as areas permanently protected for future Oregonians.  People travel from across the globe to experience Oregon’s world class rivers and fish, and that is a value that will continue to thrive if we take care of our public lands.

These lands are the anchor that will provide a healthy viable future for generations to come and deserve to be Wild and Scenic. 

Shane Anderson
Filmmaker/ Fisherman
North Fork Studios

League of Oregon Cities and Oregon Business Association Support Senator Wyden's Balanced Approach for our O&C Lands

Thursday, November 20, 2014
      

November 17, 2014

The Honorable Ron Wyden
U.S. Senator
911 NE 11th Ave., Suite 630
Portland, OR, 97232

Dear Senator Wyden:

Western Oregon’s cities, counties, and school districts have ridden the roller coaster of timber harvests for decades. For many years, high yields meant rural counties could keep taxes low while providing the services residents need, including law enforcement and vibrant schools. When it was clear that harvesting was starting to harm clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation, harvests were cut back. Counties, schools, residents, law enforcers – everyone in rural Oregon felt the brunt of those cutbacks in some way. Payments from the federal government attempted to fill in the gaps short term, but have fallen off in recent years. Many Western Oregon counties are sincerely struggling, and regardless of the reasons why, the future for all Oregonians is at stake.

We do not have a collective position on past actions or decisions. But we do know that Western Oregon’s counties, cities and schools need consistency. We support modest, permanent increases in logging on federal lands, so long as protections for clean drinking water and other core conservation needs are also permanently maintained.

It’s all about balance. That is why we support your balanced proposal that doubles the timber harvest currently coming off federal forests known as O&C lands in Oregon. Doubling the harvest from O&C lands will provide crucial tax revenue for schools, municipal services, economic development, and jobs. It will help counties stay solvent, and reduce the likelihood that cities and the state have to step in to help.

As currently written, your approach will also maintain clean drinking water. Approximately 1.8 million Oregonians get their drinking water from rivers and streams flowing through O&C lands. Clean water is an issue that directly affects counties, cities, schools, families, businesses – everyone. Your proposal sets aside certain areas to protect clean drinking water, and other areas to maintain fish and wildlife habitat, clean air, and outdoor recreation. It is important that we not trade-off one set of problems on O&C lands for a new set of municipal, infrastructure or revenue problems.

Timber alone cannot solve Western Oregon’s local funding crisis. Oregon tried to rely on timber before, and it is not sustainable by any measure. Oregon needs leaders who can find and implement a multi-pronged solution that includes timber, permanent funding for the Secure Rural Schools Act, tax reform, and economic diversification.

Caring for our children and their future is a value common to all of us as Oregonians. That is why we have written to you to support your balanced approach to increasing timber harvest and environmental protections on O&C lands. This is the right step at the right time and we applaud your leadership to get this bill passed this year.

Sincerely,

Michael J. McCauley    
Executive Director
League of Oregon Cities

Ryan Deckert
Executive Director
Oregon Business Association

O&C and Klamath Bills Pass Out of Committee

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The following post appeared in the The Caddis Fly: Oregon Fly Fishing Blog on November 19:

This past Thursday, November 13th, Senator Ron Wyden passed two key pieces of legislation through the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee that will have major impacts for the management of natural resources in Oregon.

The Klamath Basin Water Recovery and Economic Restoration Act passed out of committee and “will implement key elements of three landmark agreements between tribes, farmers and ranchers, fisheries advocates, federal and state resource agencies, and the utility company PacifiCorp that resolve water sharing and management issues in the Klamath River basin,” according to a Trout Unlimited press release on the bill.

Also passed out of committee on Thursday was Wyden’s O&C Lands Act amendment, which sets the direction for logging on publicly owned BLM lands. The bill contains protections for many of Oregon’s iconic fisheries through “Conservation Emphasis Areas”, while allowing for increased harvest of timber and revenue for rural Oregon counties through “Forestry Emphasis Areas.” Maps of the proposed designations are available on the Senator’s website here.

If passed, Wyden’s bill will roughly double the amount of timber harvested from BLM-owned O&C lands, while placing old-growth forests off-limits to logging and protecting rivers by requiring the same riparian buffers used in the Northwest Forest Plan. The bill would also designate 87,000 acres of public lands as wilderness and add 252 miles of rivers to the Wild and Scenic Rivers system.

The O&C debate has received much attention in local and statewide media over the past week. North Umpqua legend, Frank Moore, weighed in on the O&C debate with an op-ed in Friday’s Oregonian. The Register Guard also offered up some perspective in an editorial in Saturday’s paper, and the Statesman Journal weighed in with an editorial yesterday.

With both bills approved by the Senate ENR committee, they are now eligible for action on the Senate floor, but would also need to be approved by the House before heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

We at OregonFlyFishingBlog.com strongly support both of Wyden’s legislative acts. Protecting and managing our O&C Lands is vital to maintaining clean water, fish habitat, recreational opportunity and economic viability to numerous communities around the state.

Wyden’s O&C Lands Act amendment supports logging interests as well and recreational interests. It lays out a plan that will increase riparian zone buffers that are so critical in maintaining quality fish habitat and it doubles timber harvest on BLM owned O&C lands, this is a win, win for Oregon.

I urge you to comment in support of Wyden’s O&C Lands Act.

To comment on natural resources legislation in Congress, contact Oregon’s congressional delegation:

Sen. Ron Wyden: 221 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 224-5244, fax, (202) 228-2717; 911 NE 11th Ave., Suite 630, Portland, OR 97232, (503) 326-7525, fax, (503) 326-7528; 707 13th St. SE, Suite 285, Salem, OR 97301, (503) 589-4555, fax, (503) 589-4749; wyden.senate.gov

Sen. Jeff Merkley: 313 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, (202) 224-3753, fax, (202) 228-3997; 121 SW Salmon St., Suite 1400, Portland, OR 97204, (503) 326-3386, fax, (503) 326-2900; 495 State St., Suite 330, Salem, OR 97301, (503) 362-8102; merkley.senate.gov

Rep. Kurt Schrader: 108 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-5711, fax, (202) 225-5699; 544 Ferry St. SE Ste. 2, Salem, OR 97301, (503) 588-9100, fax, (503) 588-5517; schrader.house.gov

Rep. Earl Blumenauer: 1111 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-4811, fax, (202) 225-8941; 729 NE Oregon St., Suite 115, Portland, OR 97232, (503) 231-2300, fax, (503) 230-5413; blumenauer.house.gov

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici: 439 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-0855, fax, (202) 225-9497; 12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 220, Beaverton, OR 97005, (503) 469-6010, fax, (503) 469-6018; bonamici.house.gov

Rep. Peter DeFazio: 2134 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-6416, fax, (202) 226-3493; 405 East 8th Ave., Suite 2030, Eugene, OR 97401, (541) 465-6732, fax, (541) 465-6458; house.gov/defazio

Rep. Greg Walden: 2182 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, (202) 225-6730, fax, (202) 225-5774; 14 N. Central Ave., Suite 112, Medford, OR 97501, (541) 776-4646, fax, (541) 779-0204; house.gov/walden

 

Opinion: Support Ron Wyden's timber legislation

Monday, November 17, 2014

 

The following was posted by The Oregonian on November 14, 2014:

There is a debate happening in Oregon that all Americans should be involved in. It is the debate over whether to protect our clean drinking water and keep our rivers and aquatic resources healthy for future generations. I am keenly interested in this because I am a businessman, an angler, a World War II veteran, a timberland owner and I respect our great outdoors.

As an angler and businessman, I know the value of Oregon¹s clean, healthy rivers. They draw anglers who spend money on gas, lodging, gear, fishing licenses and food. This supports local economies. My wife and I built Steamboat Inn on the North Umpqua in 1957, and anglers came from around the world.

As a World War II veteran, I understand the things soldiers fight for. They fight for freedom and also hope to leave the world a little better than they found it. I fought not just for myself and the people around me, but also for the millions after me.

I have seen firsthand the folly of over logging. Even on federal lands, owned by every American, from the 1950s to 1970s, agencies required no buffers next to streams, and they were logged to and through them. The water got warm, silt clogged the streams, salmon and steelhead production dropped. Wide buffer zones around streams are crucial for clean water, fish and other aquatic life. Extreme care must be taken not to add to the damage already done.

 My wife and I own about 80 acres in the North Umpqua watershed. It has timber, some of which I log. I ensure my logging does not pollute nearby streams. Many timber companies and agency employees are good stewards who understand how to turn a profit while still protecting rivers and clean water. Others speak with a forked tongue. We must not allow the destruction of other precious resources when logging. We need strong laws and clear rules.

Some counties and timber companies are asking to increase logging on federal forests in Western Oregon. The debate right now is over logging on so-called "O&C Lands," which cover about 2.5 million acres. They provide drinking water to 1.8 million Oregonians, plus important habitat for fish and other aquatic life. Whatever is decided on these lands will set a precedent for future decisions on the rest of the 22 million acres of federal forests west of the Cascade Mountains, in northern California, Oregon and Washington.

I agree logging on these forests should increase to help support county revenues and public services. I also believe the state and counties should work together to increase revenue in other ways, but I believe we need balance. We need revenue. We need clean drinking water. We need to support the outdoor recreation industry by protecting public lands. We need to protect our quality of life, not only because it makes us happier, but because it helps attract talented employees to support growing businesses. And we need clean air. Trees are great for that.

I am grateful to Sen. Ron Wyden for crafting a thoughtful, scientifically defensible, balanced bill. It will be attacked as not enough, or too much. But it is a balanced approach, and it protects clean water, rivers, riparian areas and aquatic resources like fish.

My generation made mistakes. But we also made great sacrifices to ensure a safe and healthy world for our grandchildren. Help me ensure those sacrifices were not in vain by supporting Wyden¹s balanced proposal. I hope to be able to say truthfully to my great grandchildren: Yes, when you grow up, the rivers will still be healthy. The water will still be clean and cool. And you will still be able to catch a wild steelhead on the North Umpqua with a swinging fly.

Frank Moore is a WWII veteran and founder and former owner of the Steamboat Inn on the North Umpqua River.

O&C Lands Bill to move forward today

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is scheduled to consider legislation from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden that could determine the future of our O&C lands.

The O&C lands are 2.8 million acres of federal lands nestled throughout western Oregon, rich with biodiversity and fraught with management challenges.  These forested lands provide clean drinking water to more than 1.8 million Oregonians, remove millions of tons of carbon from our atmosphere, and are critical to Oregon’s recreational and fishing economy.  They are also a valuable resource for Oregon’s timber industry, an important contributor to our state’s economy.

Irresponsible management of our public lands puts our children’s legacy at risk and jeopardizes our clean water.  A balanced approach for our O&C lands must include adherence to our current environmental laws while also providing for responsible timber production, forest restoration projects and protection for different types of lands and waters within the O&C landscapes. 

For the past year, Senator Wyden has been working to find a legislative solution that provides economic support for Oregon’s struggling rural communities while also protecting some of our state’s natural treasures.  We believe the bill he is proposing today represents that important balance.

We encourage Senator Wyden to continue to ensure this balance between protecting our natural heritage and providing a predictable, sustainable supply of timber as he moves his legislation forward in Congress.

Iconic Wild Rivers Draw Tourists from Far and Wide

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

While I may not visit the Kalmiopsis Wilderness as much as I would like, I find solace that this wild area is there waiting for me in all it's splendor. I visit the Kalmiopsis every summer to snorkel, swim, camp and enjoy a special high coast range lake with my family and friends. I also lead kayak tours on the lower Chetco river which flows from the protective umbrella of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. This wilderness and it's water cleansing service is one of the stories I always tell my clients while on tours either on the river or as we paddle out the Chetco river mouth to access the ocean around Brookings/Harbor.

The Chetco and the Kalmiopsis are iconic to the southern Oregon coast. As much as the Salmon and Steelhead that swim in it's clean water, the river itself draws people from far and wide. Tourists come here not just to fish, but to walk in the only grove of Redwoods on the Oregon coast, to enjoy the numerous world class swimming holes, to kayak or float with the currents or to simply lounge in the sun on one of the many scenic gravel bars. This area is truly one of a kind and deserves to be protected for the long haul. We need to take care of this gem for us and for the future wilderness explorers yet to come.

Dave Lacey
Owner, South Coast Tours LLC
Curry County resident for 20 years and counting...

Balanced Approach Would Benefit both Recreation and Timber Economies

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

As fishing guides who earn our living on the McKenzie, Willamettte, North Umpqua, and a number of other Oregon rivers, we depend on cold, clean water, intact riparian areas, and healthy, robust populations of trout, steelhead, and salmon to pay the bills every month.  Most mornings, we’re up before the sun to ready our drift boats for clients that come from all over the world to fish for the McKenzie’s legendary redside trout or the Umpqua’s famed wild steelhead. 

Much of the reason Oregon is such an envied location for fishermen, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts is because of the many protections extended to the special places that define our state.  The North Umpqua Flywater, the Wild and Scenic Rogue, and the Upper McKenzie are just a few of the places we’re glad our political leaders had the foresight to protect from large scale logging, mining, and other commercial activities that could have impacted their status as world class fisheries. 

But we also have friends and family members who have built their livelihoods on predictable, sustainable sources of timber harvest from Oregon’s bountiful forests.  We appreciate the value Oregon’s forests bring to rural communities and want to see the state’s logging families continue to be able to live the lifestyles they have for generations. 

Oregon needs a balanced approach to managing O&C lands, one that provides revenue for rural communities and also ensures the places we know and love will remain the way they are now for future generations.  That’s why we support Senator Ron Wyden’s O&C Lands Bill. 

Ty and Clay Holloway
Holloway Bros. Fly Fishing
www.hollowaybrosfishing.com

Why the North Umpqua River is the Perfect Playground for the Next Generation

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The North Umpqua River is legendary among river boaters, hikers, and fishermen. And adults aren't the only ones who enjoy the North Umpqua. It just so happens that the North Umpqua is the perfect playground for the next generation as well.

Amy Kober of American Rivers wrote this blog post after a recent family visit to the North Umpqua:
 
Our family just spent a weekend on Oregon’s North Umpqua River. Watching my four year old play on the riverbank, I saw over and over again how rivers are the best playgrounds. The unstructured time for play, discovery, and relaxation reminded me that visiting a river is a great way to de-stress, get exercise, spend time together, and reconnect.

Make it a family tradition. Make it a habit. It’s fun, and you and your kids will be healthier and happier for it.

Here Are Five Reasons Why Rivers Are The Best Playgrounds:

Kober family plays at the North Umpqua River | Amy KoberMove And Explore
River and stream banks have everything a kid needs to move and play at his or her own pace and style:  beaches, fallen trees and logs, and rocks. The Umpqua River has some great bedrock ledges, some smooth, some rutted, some with little potholes of rainwater. It’s a natural playground inspiring all kinds of motion –balancing on the mossy logs, climbing over and under branches, hopping around the bedrock, splashing in the puddles.

Make A Friend
Typical playgrounds don’t have the variety of wildlife you can find on a river. We watched water striders in the calm shallows, and cheered a duck as it paddled through a little rapid. We enjoyed the background chorus of birdsong and tried to guess which animals live in the little holes, caves, and cracks under rocks and logs.

Play With Sticks
Kids love sticks. Dig with them, whack something with them, wave them around in the air. My little boy loves stick swords and we had some good ninja battles on the river bank. Driftwood chunks come in all shapes and sizes and are great for pretend play.

Learn
Where does all this water come from? Where is it going? We talked about how the river sculpts the banks and how it moves sand, gravel, even big boulders, downstream.

Dream
We all need beauty, something bigger than ourselves that captures our hearts and minds. Kids (and adults, too) need places where our imaginations are free to soar. Rivers give us all of this. Sit and watch the light dance on the water or hike to a waterfall. Kids understand river magic.

This is post was originally published on American Rivers' blog.

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