Oregon Legislative Session Highlights
Oregon’s legislative session is underway. Some bills are already dead and many others are working their way through the long session. Here at GHCC, we are supporting two important efforts - HB 3159 (Recovering Oregon’s Wildlife Fund) and SB 530 (Natural Climate Solutions).
1) fund the commitment Oregonians have already made to protecting key habitats and all wildlife populations – not just those that are hunted and fished,
2) utilize, encourage, and codify how natural processes play a key role in fighting human-caused climate change, and
3) put Oregon at the front of the line to receive matching federal funds for wildlife recovery and natural climate solutions in coming years.
Our habitat is connected
Oregon is fortunate to have a diverse and bountiful array of flora and fauna. While many of these species are thriving, others face serious challenges putting their future at risk. In 2005, at the request of Congress, Oregon developed a State Wildlife Action Plan to assess the health of Oregon’s fish, wildlife, and habitat. Importantly, the plan also created a roadmap of actions needed to sustain them.
Known as the Oregon Conservation Strategy and Nearshore Strategy, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has identified at least 294 species of greatest conservation need and 11 native habitats needing proactive restoration actions. However, the current funds available for implementation are just a small fraction of what is needed to recover our state’s most at-risk fish and wildlife.
HB 3159 supports long-term, dedicated funding to prevent the decline of Oregon’s most imperiled fish, wildlife, and the plants and habitats they rely upon.
Oregon’s outdoor economy contributes $15.6 billion in total consumer spending, supporting 224,000 jobs with $9.3 billion in wages. Hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching account for a significant portion of that positive impact. The Recovering Oregon’s Wildlife Fund will utilize a 1.5% increase in the state transient lodging tax to generate approximately $30 million a year.
It is a bold, proactive, and needed solution that will directly help at-risk species.
Even after this modest increase, Oregon’s lodging tax would remain among the lowest in the country. Tourists, many of whom are drawn to our state due to our unparalleled natural values, will help provide a steady, sustainable source of funds to ODFW to help offset the increasing impacts of tourism and other activities on Oregon’s fish, wildlife, and habitats.
SB 530 - Natural Climate Solutions – the missing piece of climate action in Oregon
Despite our stated intentions, Oregon has struggled to meaningfully address the causes of climate change. We must begin utilizing and enhancing the natural solutions that the Earth’s ecosystems already provide.
What are natural climate solutions?
These are activities that protect or enhance the ability of our landscapes to sequester and store carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Doing so can also help maintain or even increase climate resilience, water quality and quantity, human well-being, and biodiversity.
Examples of activities that this new fund will promote include:
Expansion of urban tree canopies,
Protection of drinking watersheds
Restoration of wetland and riparian areas,
Cover crop planting, rotational grazing, no till and reduced tillage,
Coastal community protection from sea-level rise and storm surge,
Lengthened logging rotations for increased carbon storage and higher yields,
Protection of forests, wetlands, and grasslands.
In addition to meeting Oregon’s established carbon emission reduction goals, we must scale up Oregon’s carbon sequestration. This bill will help Oregon achieve the 2035 and 2050 goals recommended by the Oregon Global Warming Commission.
Please join GHCC and many groups and citizens around the state in supporting tangible, meaningful, and common-sense solutions to protecting our incredible natural systems.