ONTARIO — In House Bill 2829, the Oregon Legislature established the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund during its session earlier this year. On Friday, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the rules implementing program.
The commission was meeting at the Four Rivers Cultural Center for its October session.
While in the past management of fish and wildlife have primarily been supported by the sale of hunting an fishing, that has become challenging. This is because the purchase of licenses has declined, according to a summary report.
In 1975, about 33% of Oregon bought fishing licenses and 20% bought hunting licenses, according to a report presented to the commission. Those numbers have declined in recent years to 17% of state residents buying fishing licenses and 10% buying hunting licenses, the report states.
According to an overview, the fund is designed to support conservation, resource management, research, habitat, improvements, administration, enforcement and other activities that protect and build up populations of wildlife and native fish.
House Bill 2829 appropriates $1 million to the fund on the condition that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife deposit at least $1 million from non-state and non-federal sources into the fund in gifts, grants and other contributions.
Helping the commission oversee the fund will be a nine-member advisory committee, with six members each representing six “ecoranges,” including the coastal areas represented by the nearshore and coast range, the Willamette Valley, West Cascades, East Cascades, Columbia Plateau in the north central Oregon, the Blue Mountains and the Northern Basin and Range.
Each of six members will be live in the region they represent or show expertise in that region.
The three at-large members need to show interest in one or more categories, such as conservation, outdoor recreation such as wildlife viewing and photography, nature tourism or outdoor education.
Non-voting members of the advisory committee will include one member of the Fish and Wildlife Commission and the director of the Oregon Office of Outdoor Recreation.
All of the committee members need to be able to engage youth and underserved communities and have interests in the “economic, social and educational benefits of healthy ecosystems.”
According to the law, House Bill 2829, and thus the fund and advisory committee, will sunset in January of 2020.