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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

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