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Greg Walden introduces bill to stop travel management rule

Greg Walden introduces bill to stop travel management rule

LA GRANDE, Ore. — U.S. Rep. Greg Walden today announced he has introduced the Forest Access in Rural Communities Act (H.R. 4272) to stop the problematic travel management rule on national forests in the West and promote local control over future proposals to restrict forest access.

“For too long, the input and wishes of local citizens have been pushed to the backseat when it comes to decisions about access to our public lands. This common-sense bill will put local communities back in the driver’s seat in the Forest Service’s travel management planning process,” Walden said.

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“Whether it’s for hunting, camping, firewood cutting, berry picking, or just enjoying a ride through the woods in a truck or ATV, accessing our forests is a way of life in rural Oregon. Far too often, though, management decisions are handed down from Washington, D.C. by agencies who have likely only seen the forests on a map. It’s time for that to stop. This bill will bring management back where it belongs—local communities with firsthand knowledge about the state and uses of these forests,” Walden said.

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Walden made the announcement at AC Power Sports in La Grande with local officials and members of the motorized recreation community, including Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson and motorized recreation leader Allan Chase. This legislation is the result of over a year of work with stakeholders like Davidson and Chase.

When the USFS released a travel management plan on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest two years ago, it largely ignored input from local citizens. Walden, local officials and citizens pushed back hard on the plan, eventually forcing the agency to withdraw it.

The Forest Access in Rural Communities Act prohibits the implementation or enforcement of the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) Travel Management Rule for national forests derived from public domain lands in the West.

It also places restrictions on the USFS before implementing a proposed road closure, decommissioning or change in road densities in forests. In order to do so, the USFS must consult during the planning process with affected counties (a county within which the road closure occurs or an adjacent county). It must also get concurrence from the affected counties before the proposed plan goes into effect.



One Response to “Greg Walden introduces bill to stop travel management rule”

  1. Dennis Linthicum says:

    It’s time for a reality check.

    Although I applaud this effort, it seems clear that Walden only threw this piece of legislative silliness onto the House floor because I am on his heels, chasing his lackluster votes.

    I have heard for years from hunters, farmers, ranchers, loggers and OHV users worried about their forest access and concerned with the deafness of Washington bureaucrats. They tell me of their frustration in writing endless letters to Walden’s office and their local papers, along with their attempts at “public comment” debacles.

    Do you really believe that Representative Walden was suddenly moved by his love for our freedoms as Oregonians, or does this seem politically-motivated to you? Why have our forests been padlocked for years and why has his office been bragging about his ineffectual votes, until now?

    The Travel Management Plan comes from an agenda started 10 years ago. That’s when Republicans owned the executive and legislative branches of the federal machine. Yet, this debacle has been growing like a boil beneath the surface and is now, ready to explode. Is this what it takes to get Washington’s attention?

    It’s easy to see that this bill is an attempt to score political points without creating real change. Mr. Walden’s bill re-enforces the root problem – a profound disconnect between the boots on the ground and the shiny shoes in the hallowed halls of D.C. He makes the mistake of assuming that keeping power in the federal bureaucracy while giving purely political head-patting bonuses to county commissioners will fix the problem.

    As a county commissioner, I can tell you right now that we need much more than this weak attempt – we need ownership, real-world budgets and the ability to open our forests to all kinds of uses without federal overreach.

    It’s time for Oregon legislators and our US Congress to explore new options. I believe that we should be transferring all federally managed lands into the various jurisdictions where those lands are contained. We should be giving the resources back to the people with real action, not symbolic four-page bills.

    In order to bring back economic vitality, we must sync Oregon’s immense forests with real-world, economic conditions at the local level. A bold strategy, like this, is the only solution big enough to insure the long-term productivity of our vast renewable resources.

    Washington’s bureaucratic management of natural resources within our state’s boundary is not serving our 2nd Congressional District interests. It’s time for a real change.

    The hunters, packers, foresters, campers and OHV users who enjoy these forested areas of Eastern, Central and Southern Oregon, know the history of these lands and know better than others what proper care entails.

    As your new District #2 Representative, my goal will to exert pressure at the federal level to reward state efforts for managing public land transfers. Legislatures in seven western states – Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Idaho – have passed, introduced, or explored legislation demanding that the federal government turn over millions of acres of federal public lands to the states. To create advocates in the US House and Senate is a fundamental requirement for success in these efforts. This will set precedence for Washington, California, and Oregon, allowing them to secure their future in their own land and give citizens their freedom.

    My candidacy will focus on giving people the freedom to manage these resources properly. Let Oregonians bear the full responsibility for preserving these lands for future generations and allow each of us the privilege of “securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”

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