The Greater Outdoors

Can a New State Office Get More Oregonians Outside?

It'll have to balance feedback from all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts, from environmental activists to ATV lovers.

By Sydney Dauphinais August 14, 2018 Published in the September 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Last August, Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill creating the Office of Outdoor Recreation. Nearly a year later, the state announced the leader for this office of, um, one.

Meet Cailin O’Brien Feeney: skier, cyclist, climber, surfer. After leading outdoor tours as an undergrad at Lewis & Clark, he became a river guide and, later, a fellow with the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2015, he landed at Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association, coordinating policy and working with locals and other conservation groups. His new gig will no doubt also call for bringing different outdoors users together.

“There are conflicts between certain kinds of recreation,” O’Brien Feeney says. “Mediation will be a part of it, no doubt, but I take a more optimistic view. I see this position as convening and removing barriers.”

The office’s exact duties remain a bit speculative. We asked three local stakeholders what should be the new director’s first priority.

Adam Baylor 

Stewardship and advocacy manager, Mazamas

Whether it’s overcrowding, or trash, or erosion, or parking, there are major issues right now associated with outdoor recreation activities. But the no. 1 thing is trail maintenance and trail development throughout the entire state. What we’ve got in place already is a solid foundation.

Brooke Sandahl

Vice president, Metolius Climbing

I think he’s going to want to identify what the recreation opportunities are, go through them numerically, and see what each one of those is generating; identify the winners and put together a comprehensive plan to enhance them. He should do what’s best economically for the state, but also be very careful to look at the indigenous people’s rights, look at private property rights, and basically define what the state has to offer—I don’t know if that’s been done super-thoroughly yet.

Sean Stevens

Executive director, Oregon Wild

It’s important that this office act as a voice to push back against federal policies that would undermine public lands protections. We’ve recently had a disinvestment in environmental infrastructure at the state and federal level, and that’s going to continually be a challenge.

Filed under
Show Comments