March 30, 2017

Frank and Jeanne Moore, Mt. Hood Land Exchange and Tribal Restoration Bills Pass Senate Committee

Three Bills Written By Wyden And Merkley Would Protect Oregon’s Land And Habitat Conservation Priorities And Boost Economic Sovereignty For Oregon Tribes

Washington, D.C. – Three bills written by Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley to address Oregon public land and tribal priorities today passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The committee unanimously passed the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area Designation Act, the Mt. Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange Clarification Act, and the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act.

“I’m thrilled this terrific trifecta of Oregon priorities advanced one step closer to the finish line today,” Wyden said. “The Frank and Jeanne Moore bill honors two great Americans and their dedication to protecting a truly special place in Oregon. For the tribes, this important recognition of their sovereignty will provide a boost to their economies. And the Mt. Hood Land Exchange will finally help protect Mt. Hood for visitors and for the environment. Sen. Merkley and I will continue to push to get each of these bills passed into law this year.”

“Today’s action is another step forward for common-sense stewardship of Oregon lands and enhanced economic opportunity across our state,” Merkley said. “By completing the Mt. Hood land exchange and establishing the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area, we can protect and promote our public lands and waters while boosting our growing recreation industry. And the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act will enable our Oregon tribes to enhance their self-determination and create greater economic opportunity in Oregon’s Indian Country. With today’s committee passage of these bills, we’re making progress on protecting Oregon’s incredible natural legacies while promoting economic opportunities at the same time.”

The three bills passed by the committee would:

  • Designate the Frank and Jeanne Moore Wild Steelhead Special Management Area. Wyden and Merkley introduced this bill to honor two Oregon legends who have dedicated their lives to protecting this special corner of Southwest Oregon. The bill would designate 99,653 acres of Forest Service land north of the North Umpqua River around Steamboat Creek in Douglas County, ensure the river, its tributaries and the surrounding lands will protect steelhead habitat, preserve opportunities for recreation, and conserve the unique ecological features of this great river while ensuring wildfire protection. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced the House version of the bill earlier this month.
  • Resolve a decades-long land dispute on Mt. Hood. Wyden and Merkley wrote the Mt. Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange Clarification Act to help resolve a dispute over proposed land development on the north side of Mt. Hood. The bill would allow development of 107 acres near Government Camp while protecting more than 770 acres on the north side – a land exchange that is now almost seven years delayed. Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced the House version of the bill, which passed the House in February.
  • Support economic self-sufficiency for three tribes in Oregon. The senators’ Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act would place 17,519 acres of federal land currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) into trust for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, and 14,742 acres of federal land into trust for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. It would also amend the Coquille Restoration Act to require the Interior Department to manage the Coquille Indian Tribes’ forest lands in the same way as other tribal forest lands. DeFazio and Walden introduced the House version of the bill earlier this year.

All three bills now go to the full Senate.

Wyden is the former chair and a senior member of the committee.