April 24, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SALEM, Ore. — Trout Unlimited on Monday congratulated Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski for engaging in the federal petition process in hopes of protecting all of Oregon’s remaining 2 million acres of roadless national forest land.
“We clearly have a governor who appreciates the best of Oregon,” said TU Field Coordinator Mike Beagle. “This further cements Gov. Kulongoski’s desire to keep things like they are, to the benefit of hunters, anglers and anyone who accesses Oregon’s backcountry.”
Late last summer, Kulongoski joined the states of California and New Mexico in a pending lawsuit against the federal government asking for the reinstatement of the now-defunct 2001 Roadless Rule (several other states have since joined that effort). That rule prohibited new development on inventoried roadless land, but was thrown out in May 2005, in spite of strong support from Oregon’s citizenry. Now, Beagle said, with both the pending lawsuit and the initiation of the petition process, there can be no mistaking Oregon’s desires when it comes to backcountry protection.
“These lands harbor our best fish and wildlife habitat and by extension, our best hunting and fishing,” Beagle said. “Access to these lands as it is right now is excellent. We should keep it like it is—the status quo in this instance is a good thing. Petitioning the government for roadless protection is the best way we can ensure these lands will stay the same.”
Oregon’s roadless lands inventory was first compiled about 30 years ago. Since then, much has changed—some “roadless” areas have motorized-access trails leading into them, and others have rough Jeep trails that lead into the backcountry. Still others allow bicycle and horseback access, in addition to traditional walk-in access.
“There’s no need to change anything—if you can get to your favorite place today, you should be able to get there tomorrow,” Beagle said. “I think the governor understands that our roadless areas aren’t broken, so he sees no need to fix them.”
Tom Wolfe, president of the Oregon Trout Unlimited Council, noted that Oregon’s backcountry is home to some of the healthiest anadromous fish runs in the state, and that protecting these areas is of benefit to the state’s fishery, as well as to its economy. In 2004, TU conducted analysis that documented the value of backcountry lands to fish and wildlife, and hunting and fishing. To see that report, visit http://www.tu.org/site/pp.asp?c=7dJEKTNuFmG&b=296183.
“These are long-term resources that will continue to pay off so long as we take care of them,” Wolfe said. “I applaud the governor for his clear intent to protect our fish and wildlife in Oregon. Thanks to his efforts, our children and grandchildren will get to enjoy the same sporting opportunities we enjoy today.”