Senate Budget Committee Adopts Merkley Amendment to Protect Public Lands

Washington, DC – A range of public lands will be eligible for potential protection under the Senate budget resolution, thanks to an amendment by Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley.  Protective measures could include forest health restoration, fire prevention, or conservation efforts.


“Just this week, Congress approved legislation that will designate hundreds of thousands of new acres of wilderness areas and recreation areas, as well as wild and scenic rivers in Oregon,” said Merkley.  “It’s important that as we lay the groundwork for legislation to strengthen protections for national parks, we do the same for other public lands across Oregon.”


The Senate budget resolution included a reserve fund for protection of national parks.  This would clear procedural hurdles for considering future legislation, ensuring that it would not be subject to points of order requiring sixty votes to overcome.


Merkley’s amendment adds other public land protections to allow for future legislation protecting wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers or other designations common in Oregon.


While Oregon currently has one national park at Crater Lake, it has dozens of other protected areas, such as wilderness areas and wild and scenic river designations.  Omitting these types of areas from future legislation could hamstring efforts to improve protections for some of Oregon’s most treasured public lands.