Continuing Resolution Could Hamper Important Conservation Progress in Oregon
House budget proposal represents an outright attack on state-driven conservation
At first glance, the Oregon Conservation Strategy looks no different than any other document. There is a forward, a table of contents, pictures and a whopping 400 pages of text. However, for people in Oregon dedicated to conserving the state’s wildlife and habitats, the Conservation Strategy is much more than a document. Within those 400 plus pages lies the future of wildlife and wild places in Oregon.
Completed in 2006, after 18 months of research, writing and input from a wide range of organizations, the Oregon Conservation Strategy has become the state’s conservation doctrine. Not only does it identify species and habitats most in need of conservation action in the state, it also details the issues and problems affecting them, and key conservation actions, research and monitoring needed to address those issues.
“The Conservation Strategy tells us where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go next in our efforts to conserve Oregon’s at-risk species and habitats,” said Holly Michael, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Policy Coordinator.
In the five years since the strategy received federal approval, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and partners have achieved numerous successes under the plan, including:
- restoring coastal wetlands,
- performing research and restoration for at-risk grassland birds,
- developing strategies to allow for wildlife movement across the landscape,
- fighting invasive species as varied as feral swine and quagga mussels,
- restoring riparian habitat, and
- funding and implementing projects that help conserve Oregon’s symbolic state species—the western meadowlark, American beaver, Chinook salmon and Oregon swallowtail.
However, without the support of federal dollars to implement the plan, these successes would not have been achievable.
Underming State-Driven Conservation
Like other State Wildlife Action Plans, a large chunk of the funding for the Conservation Strategy flows to Oregon from the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. These grants support on-the-ground programs, pay nongame staff salaries and provide the incentive for matching donations.
“The House version of the Continuing Resolution would completely zero out funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program,” said Russell Bassett, executive director of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, NWF’s Oregon affiliate. “This represents an outright attack on state-driven conservation and could unravel a decade’s worth of success.”
In addition to elminating the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program and slashing investments in other vital conservation programs, the House-passed version of the Continuing Resolution includes a sneak attack on the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.
“The Continuing Resolution would throw up insurmountable roadblocks in our work to protect Oregon’s irreplaceable wildlife and habitats. It’s up to the Senate to stand up and fight for those things we value most—clean water, abundant wildlife, and free and open recreation opportunities," concluded Bassett.
Speak up for wildlife. Tell Congress and President Obama to stop this stealth attack
on our nation’s bedrock conservation laws.