Sweeping Oregon Wilderness Bill Goes to President

Today, sweeping legislation set course for Oregon’s Devils Staircase to receive federal wilderness protection, along with other protections for 250 miles of waterways throughout the state.

The bipartisan package of 120 bills passed through Congress on a 363-62 vote.  Called the Oregon Wildlands Act, lawmakers are hopeful President Trump will approve the legislation – given its wide margin of victory. The package of bills had already been passed in the Senate.

A broader version of the bill would have expanded the Wild Rouge Wilderness Area, and created another, the Molalla Recreation Area. However, Oregon’s only Republican Congressman, Rep. Greg Walden, sought to remove them, and was ultimately successful. In past coverage, Walden’s spokesman Justin Discigil told the Statesman Journal, “The wildlands bill seeks to lock up more than 200,000 acres of land, increasing the risk of catastrophic wildfire,” Discigil said.

If approved, Devil’s Staircase would be the largest wilderness area in Oregon’s Coast Range. The 30,000 acre old growth rainforest is northeast of Reedsport.

D-Rep. Peter DeFazio had advocated for the bill, but could not get out of Eugene to vote because of the snow.

The Oregon Wildlands act would also limit development and mining along 250 miles of Oregon waterways. Walden added a bill to the package, the Crooked River Ranch Fire Protection Act – it removes 688 acres of wilderness study area.