Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley have co-sponsored the River Democracy Act of 2021 (S192) bill that has the potential to add 4,700 miles of Oregon waterways to the Wild and Scenic Rivers list. This would be the length of the mighty Mississippi and Missouri combined. Yes, this would be quite a remarkable achievement, but it needs to be asked: “Is this necessary”?

What more protection is needed? Our public lands, which includes these waterways, are protected by numerous government agencies that are aided by countless nongovernment organizations. No project moves forward without an approval stamp from the NGOs (to name just a few: Nature Conservancy, Wild Earth Guardians, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Center for Biological Diversity).

Just recently the Center for Biological Diversity used its weapon of relentless lawsuits to halt a project in the Ochoco National Forest. These extremist NGOs use litigation as a very effective “tool of intimidation."

Access and utilization of the natural resources our public lands provide have decreased with the Wilderness Act and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. We have rode a wave of continued land grabs under the guise of preserving natural conditions.

The River Democracy Act is one of the most abusive overrides we have witnessed, plus it's an insult to what the “wild and scenic” designation was intended to be: “protection and enhancement of outstanding remarkable values.” Protections exist presently.

D.M. Ballard

Baker City

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