February 24, 2004

Oregon Dunes, Winchester Bay Land Conveyance to Become Law

Bill will boost local tourism economy, reduce traffic and improve public safety

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) today announced final congressional approval of their Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area land transfer legislation, aimed at improving access to the site and boosting the tourism economy of the South Coast. The Wyden-Smith bill (S. 714) directs the Secretary of the Interior to convey approximately 68.5 acres from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Douglas County to be managed for open space and for recreational purposes. In addition to shoring up the areas tourism economy, the legislation will also reduce traffic congestion along Salmon Harbor Drive. The bill now goes to the White House for the president's signature into law. "Improved access to Oregon Dunes will attract tourism dollars and help folks enjoy this natural treasure," said Wyden. "I'm focused on bringing better economic times to all of Oregon, and this is a common sense way to help the Douglas County economy." "Increasing the ability for locals and tourists alike to enjoy Oregon's natural beauty is where this bill truly succeeds," said Smith. "Economic opportunity and job growth are important benefits for the people of Winchester Bay and Douglas County that simply can't be overstated." The acreage to be transferred is located just west of tourist and recreational area developments already owned and run by Douglas County. The county will use the land to provide a staging area for off-highway vehicles, thereby consolidating and improving United States Forest Service management of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The land transfer also facilitates the policing of unlawful camping and parking along Salmon Harbor Drive and adjacent areas. The Wyden-Smith legislation has the support of the entire Oregon delegation, as well as the BLM, the Douglas County Commissioners, and the community of Winchester Bay. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced companion land transfer legislation (H.R. 514) in the U.S. House of Representatives early last year.