My name is Chelsea Cassens, and I am an Artemis ambassador for Eastern Oregon. Artemis is a community of sportswomen from across the country coming together to build relationships between hunters and anglers, support each other in the field and on the water, and learn more about conservation issues impacting our public lands, waters and wildlife.

Advocating for conservation and public access is a deep-rooted part of who I am and how I was raised — and how I am raising my kids. After becoming a mother, I realized the importance of protecting wild spaces for future generations. The next generation will not enjoy the privilege of our irreplaceable lands, waters and wildlife without our explicit engagement in all facets of the sporting conservation life.

Oregon U.S. Rep. Greg Walden has a chance July 22 to cast a vote on a bill that will expand hiking, hunting, fishing, camping and many other outdoor recreation activities in Oregon. The Great American Outdoors Act can play a giant role in helping our state recover physically, emotionally and economically from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent months our parks, hiking and biking trails and other public lands have been crowded with people seeking exercise and relief from the stresses of the pandemic. This bill will make sure those recreation opportunities are expanded since it will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. That popular program has provided Oregon with more than $335.6 million to support such places as the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, the Hart Mountain Antelope Range and the John Day Fossil Beds. As someone who loves to hunt, fish and explore these public lands, I’m particularly grateful the bill ensures these opportunities will be available for future generations.

This legislation also will help economic recovery by creating jobs and boosting outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation generates $16.4 billion annually in consumer spending and supports more than 172,000 jobs across the state.

The Great American Outdoors Act has broad bipartisan support and is the right thing to do for our state and our country. I urge Rep. Walden to burnish his conservation legacy by voting for this very important bill.

Chelsea R. Cassens

Imbler

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