Our public lands are one of our greatest natural resources and it is one of Congress’ highest duties to protect them and care for their management.
I believe there are lands in this country that should be preserved for public use. I have supported public land packages that expand wilderness and wild and scenic designations. I also support the multiple-use of our public lands, including recreation, active timber management, grazing access, and hunting access.
Earlier this year, Congress passed S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which I supported and is now law. S. 47 bundles together more than 100 individual public lands bills, including several provisions I have supported since I first came to Congress. The bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), adds new land designations for parks and conservation areas, and funds several research and development programs to modernize our current wildfire fighting technology. S. 47 also increases access to federal lands for hunting, fishing, and other recreation, while protecting private property rights. I am particularly excited that S. 47 included language to designate 21 miles of the Molalla River as Wild and Scenic. I have been working on this with members of the Molalla community for my entire Congressional career, and I am glad to finally see this priority of mine signed into law. I am proud that Congress was able to come together and deliver on these important priorities.
I have consistently worked across the aisle with my colleagues on forest management plans that protect Oregon’s natural treasures while providing sufficient revenue for rural communities. In a state like Oregon where 53 percent of the land is federally controlled, the government needs to live up to their responsibility and not leave our rural communities without any options for their livelihood. We have waited more than 25 years for our government to implement a sustainable and legally defensible management plan for Oregon’s federal forest land. They failed and rural Oregon has paid the price. Our rural communities continue to struggle, and our forests are unhealthier due to lack of management. This is why I have collaborated with Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden on a federal forest management plans that provides sufficient revenue for our counties, puts jobs back into the woods, and protects old growth and Oregon's most valued natural treasures.
Last Congress we were able to get some real results on forestry issues I’ve been working on since I came to Congress in 2009. The FY2018 Omnibus spending package that I supported and was signed into law included some of our top priorities on forest management, by changing our budget to end the cycle of “fire borrowing” and providing utility companies the authority to remove hazardous trees near transmission lines. This package was a net win for Oregonians and shows what Congress can do when we roll up our sleeves and get to work.
I will continue to be an advocate for public lands and support bipartisan land management plans that preserve essential environmental regulations, which protect our ecosystems, and allow access for multiple-use.