Friday, May 19, 2023
As Oregonians gear up for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, on Wednesday the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources advanced, on a bipartisan vote, bills authored by Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley that they believe would make the outdoors more accessible, support the recreation economy, protect drinking water for thousands of Oregonians, and ensure essential wildfire prevention work.
The committee passed the senator’s Oregon Recreation Enhancement (ORE) Act. It would create the Rogue Canyon Recreation Area and the Molalla Recreation Area. It would also expand the Wild Rogue Wilderness Area and would prohibit mining that the senators believe is destructive on pristine rivers in Southwestern Oregon. The release said the recreation and wilderness designations would also require forest health, wildfire resiliency, and other wildfire prevention strategies in the region to continue.
In addition, Wyden and Merkley’s legislation to expand the Smith River National Recreation Area to Oregon passed the committee. The expanded National Recreation area will include 58,000 acres of the North Fork Smith River watershed including tributaries which contain coho and Chinook salmon, and Coastal Cutthroat trout. The legislation would also task the Forest Service with the preparation of an updated recreation plan identifying specific plans for the entire National Recreation Area. It would also produce a study of streams, fens, wetlands, and potentially unstable and vulnerable aquatic habitat areas.
The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration.