Speak up about River Democracy Act
Some things from 2021 are still
lingering in 2022, like the River Democracy Act that
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are pushing. They are
trying to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.
For several months Iíve been following
this issue and still there are no answers to many revolving
questions. Like why are some of the designated streams not
streams at all, but dry washes? Why are the stream buffers
increased from a quarter a mile to half a mile? The act has
pages of coordinates of the streams, rivers, and dry gulches
to be protected, but not one map.
In May, the Oregon Cattlemenís
Association asked for the maps and then they asked again in
November. As of this writing, we still donít have the maps
from Wydenís office.
I know of two counties in Eastern
Oregon that have at their own expense, hired an engineering
firm to map the coordinates in the act in order to have a
visual map of the affected streams. These visual maps give
the county a picture of how this act will impact them.
It is unconscionable that any county
government should have to spend money from its general fund
to map these streams when information should be available
upon request from Senator Wyden or Merkley. Yet, they
continue to ignore the requests. How will this affect
livestock grazing and other natural resource users?
This act talks a lot about fire
resiliency, but supplies no details as to how locking up 3.1
million acres of federal land will reduce threat of fire to
land, lumber and lives. What will the long-term economic
effect of this bill have on rural Oregon?
Wyden and his team expound on the
great benefits of tourism and the dollars spent on
recreation. Thatís the well-polished sales pitch and talking
points pounded into their heads at staff meetings. When
hikers, bikers and ATVers visit rural Oregon most of them
bring their own tents, campers, or RVís. They fill their
coolers and gas tanks at home and donít spend much in the
small towns they drive through.
Wydenís bill has a $30 million price
tag. Not just for the first year but every year ó forever.
Only $5 million of that is earmarked. What is the other $25
million for? They havenít answered that one either.
The original intent of the Wild and
Scenic Rivers Act was to preserve certain rivers with
ďoutstanding, natural, cultural, and recreational values in
a free-flowing condition.Ē This act as presented is a vast
departure from the original Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. If
this act passes into law, it will set grave precedent that
will enable law makers to circumvent protocol and
procedures. Our Senators were elected to represent all
Oregonians, not a select demographic.
Please take the time to look up SB
192. If you donít like what you see, if you donít want
another 4,700 miles of streams and 3.1 million acres of
Oregon locked up, reach out to Oregonís senators and let
Matt McElligott is president elect of the Oregon Cattlemenís
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