Oregon Lawmakers Introduce Payments to Enhance Out of doors Recreation

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The state of Oregon has a long history of preserving its natural resources and investing in recreational opportunities. All of our ocean beaches are preserved for public use, and in the 1960’s and 70’s large tracts of land were either purchased or publicly owned by Oregon politicians statewide to protect wildlife and create recreational opportunities.

In the just-started 2023 Legislature in Salem, lawmakers introduced several bills that could benefit outdoor enthusiasts in the future should they survive the next six months of committee meetings, negotiations and budget talks before approval. A rosy economic outlook and a new biennium means there may be plenty of money for projects that will make some of Oregon’s most stunning locations easier for residents and visitors to access.

Here are some of the current suggestions.

Senate bill 76

This bill provides for $3 million to be invested in improving the Oregon State Parks Department’s historical museums and building new facilities. This would mean more funds to improve services and facilities like the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site at John Day and the lighthouse at Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site.

Senate Bill 679/House Bill 2191

The Oregon Coast Trail stretches 425 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River at its northern end to the California border in the south. It’s a delightful trail that’s a walker’s and day-tripper’s paradise – at least for sections through coastal forests and along sea beaches. But almost 40 percent of the “trail” uses public roads. That bill would provide $1 million for new trail connections that keep hikers off potentially dangerous roads.

House bill 2011

The United States has seen a significant increase in the number of attacks on parks and recreational workers by visitors in recent years. Whether it’s stress caused by the pandemic or a general drop in people’s patience with one another, rangers in Oregon are reporting an increase in physical altercations with park guests, in many cases for simply doing their job by violating state laws enforce and park rules. HB 2011 is a bipartisan attempt to increase criminal penalties for those who engage in violence toward park employees by punishing the offender with a minimum of five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

House bill 2835

The legislature would require the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to initiate a pilot program to award grants to build recreational fisheries within the confines of urban growth. Imagine your local pond being rehabilitated and a new dock being built so you can fish with the kids after school.

House bill 2839

Travel Oregon already supports the efforts of local tourist boards across the state in applying for grants and complying with land use laws when building new facilities. This law would formalize and streamline those relationships to further boost the state’s tourism economy.

House bill 2910

Awards $3.5 million to the Center for Outdoor Recreation Economy at Oregon State University for human resource development efforts, grants to help rebuild communities after wildfires, and assisting entrepreneurs in the outdoor recreation industry with things like exploration and support prototyping of new products.