Two important bills were recently passed by the Oregon State Legislature.
House Bill 2829 establishes the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund (separate from the General Fund) to support the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to meet growing needs for research and conservation management to preserve sustainable wildlife populations for all Oregonians.
House Bill 2834 requires the Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to develop a Wildlife Corridor and Safe Road Crossing Action Plan for use by state agencies in planning animal connectivity across transportation routes. This is critically needed and cost effective. Wildlife crossings reduce costly wildlife collisions by 85%. There are over 7,000 animal/vehicle collisions every year in Oregon, at a cost to motorists of $6500 per collision. Over time crossings pay for themselves.
Although there can be intense public disagreements about the management or self-regulation of some species, House Bills 2829 and 2834 bridge these differences and benefit all species of wildlife and the public. Wildlife connects us to the natural world. We need to protect it.
Several conservation organizations supported this bill through their emails, letters and meetings with legislators. The Oregon Hunters Association were very active in supporting this as was the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Rocky Mountain Elk Society, Trout Unlimited, Back Country Hunters and Anglers and Protect Animal Migration (PAM). PAM sent in a petition with 300 signatures and 100 postcards to legislators urging their support. In the legislature, the votes was bi partisan and nearly unanimous.