In addition to our other efforts in protecting forests and high desert, rivers and springs, fish and wildlife, and well-designed communities, Central Oregon LandWatch engages energetically in legislative advocacy. The 80th Oregon State Legislative Assembly (2019 Legislative Session) is currently at full speed this winter and spring. Bills can often be complex, appear suddenly and move fast, or have deceptive intent. LandWatch conducts research into the background and details of bills, stays abreast of daily developments, works with partner organizations, meets with decision makers in the capitol, provides testimony at hearings, and helps to actively craft legislation – staying lean and mean in our effort to maximize effectiveness in shaping policy affecting conservation of our lands, wildlife, and communities. We are currently tracking over 150 bills!
Some good bills LandWatch is supporting include:
HB 2086 – Further strengthens the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, which protects working lands (farms and ranches) while providing for conservation of fish and wildlife habitat.
HB 2623 – Prohibits use of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas exploration and production.
HB 2834 & SB 583 – Require planning for designation and protection of wildlife corridors.
HB 2856 – Funds statewide study of ground water.
SB 102 – Establishes guidelines for wildfire buffer zones that produce defensible spaces around lands in the forestland-urban interface.
SB 580 – Prohibits use of cyanide devices to destroy wildlife.
SB 723 – Prohibits contests or derbies that have the objective of mass killing of wildlife for prizes or entertainment.
Some bad bills LandWatch is fighting include:
HB 2370, SB 306, & SB 340 – Allow use of dogs for hunting, pursuing, and destroying cougars.
HB 2456 – Allows counties to rezone lands in Eastern Oregon from exclusive farm use to residential uses.
HB 2738 & 2739, SB 632 & 633 – Loosen restrictions on motorized in-stream suction dredge placer mining.
SB 529 & 570 – Suspend, exempt, or waive planning ordinances and goals to ease and speed development.
There are also a number of housing bills under consideration by the legislature that we are tracking. LandWatch supports efforts to encourage affordable housing and foster vibrant urban form, while we refuse to accept false choices that would undermine our state land use system and rural land protections.
It’s a fast-paced, complex, evolving playing field, but Central Oregon LandWatch is there to protect the land, wildlife, and communities that we all hold dear. You can learn more about the Oregon State Legislature, including how to contact your representative, the different legislative committees, the status of current bills, and how to provide written or oral testimony on issues you care about by visiting the Oregon Legislative Information System at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/.