Help Us Keep Wildlife and Nature in the Spotlight this Legislative Session

Today the Oregon legislature begins a 35-day sprint to get a dizzying array of bills over the finish line. Bird Alliance of Oregon has been working for months to prepare for the session, and we have identified three priority issue areas. Unfortunately, wildlife and nature are often treated as political trading stock in the legislature. We need your help to make sure our elected officials hear loud and clear that their constituents want them to take action to protect Oregon’s wildlife and wild places.

Cape Perpetua - Wildlife Care Center - Portland, OR
Cape Perpetua - m01229/flicker; Wildlife Care Center; Portland, Oregon - David Grant

Wildlife Package: This bill creates a new coexistence program within the Department of Fish and Wildlife to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife. It also includes important provisions to support wildlife corridors and to address invasive species and wildlife diseases. 

Marine Reserves Bill: This bill would enhance Oregon’s popular and effective marine reserves program. Our marine reserves are underwater protected areas that also serve as a living laboratory to better understand ocean life.

Governor Kotek’s Housing Bill: Our longtime vision is to make Portland the greenest metropolitan area in the country—one in which all people have access to affordable housing in complete, healthy, equitable, and climate-resilient communities surrounded by nature. We are deeply involved in efforts to spur housing development in response to the state’s housing affordability crisis in balance with protecting urban nature for communities and wildlife. We are working to ensure that policy proposals do not compromise protections for natural resources or dismantle our state’s storied land use system. Unfortunately, while Governor Kotek’s housing bill has shifted towards our vision in some key places, it continues to include unnecessary and unjustified expansions to the urban growth boundary.

Please help us keep wildlife and nature in the spotlight by reaching out to your state legislators today!

How to Take Action:

  1. Look up your Representative and Senator by entering your complete address into this online tool.
  2. Email or call your Representative and Senator and let them know you care about wildlife and habitat and hope they will do the following (talking points below):
      • Support the wildlife package (HB 4148);
      • Support the marine reserves bill (HB 4123);
      • Amend the Governor’s housing bill to make sure housing policies protect nature and the urban growth boundary (SB 1537).
  3. Stay tuned as the legislative session unfolds for more details about how to take action on each of these issues.
Pacific Brown Pelican, photo by Mick Thompson

Talking Points:

  • Please support the Wildlife Package (House Bill 4148):
      • Representative Ken Helm’s wildlife package includes support for a robust coexistence program within the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The intent is to reduce conflicts and promote coexistence between humans and wildlife through outreach, education, and training, support for legally permitted wildlife rehabilitators, and other work related to living with wildlife. 
      • The bill also creates a wildlife disease program to improve the state’s response to zoonotic diseases (diseases that spread between animals and people), provides support to the Invasive Species Council, and boosts ongoing work to support wildlife mobility and habitat connectivity.
      • This bill has broad support from a diverse array of stakeholders all invested in seeing the state advance proactive wildlife conservation policy.
  • Please support the Marine Reserves Bill (House Bill 4123):
      • Oregon’s marine reserves and marine protected areas were designated in 2012 and cover about 9% of our state waters. These underwater sea parks limit fishing and resource extraction to help protect marine resources and biodiversity and act as natural laboratories to better understand how our ocean is impacted by stressors like climate change. 
      • This bill shores up the program by implementing recommendations from a 10-year review by OSU. It also requires more robust community engagement that prioritizes listening to diverse voices, including Tribes. 
      • With a modest investment (about $1M every two years) we can make Oregon’s Marine Reserves Program one of the strongest in the nation and better protect our iconic ocean for marine wildlife, commercial fisheries, and coastal communities.
  • Please ensure housing policies do not compromise protections for natural resources or our state’s land use system (Senate Bill 1537):
    • We strongly support efforts to build affordable housing in climate resilient communities with access to nature – for the benefit of people and wildlife.
    • In granting regulatory relief to developers, housing policy must not compromise longstanding protections for natural resources that make our communities more healthy, livable and climate resilient, and that help provide wildlife habitat and facilitate wildlife movement. 
    • As introduced, the Governor’s current bill includes troubling provisions to expand urban growth boundaries, without requiring cities to demonstrate a need for the expansion. This encourages sprawl and the development of housing that doesn’t meet the state’s affordable housing needs.
    • The state should invest in infrastructure on land we already have, within existing urban growth boundaries.
    • With amendments to address these concerns, the Governor’s bill would enjoy widespread support.