A New All-Access Permitting System Might Open Up Oregon's Outdoors
Say your family wants to take ATVs to go camping for the week at a state park. Maybe you want to go fly fishing and hunt some fowl while you’re there. Before you pitch a tent, you first have to get an overnight camping pass ($26+), a fishing license ($10–198.25), a bird hunting license (free–$188.50), a parking permit ($30-50), and of course, an ATV permit ($10). You have to locate the proper issuing agency and upon arrival, find out which license is required for a particular activity, season, type of access, and whether you or your family qualify for a free or reduced cost permit.
Still wanna go outdoors? But wait, what if you could get everything you need from a single place?
In January, the Oregon Senate introduced SB 448 to do just that. The bill would direct the Office of Outdoor Recreation to study and provide direction on developing the Oregon Outdoor Pass to help simplify the state's chaotic recreational permit system. The study will assess whether confusion over the array of permits serves as a barrier that could discourage Oregonians from playing outdoors.
"If we want to see outdoor recreation succeed in the long run and deliver personal, community, and economic benefits, we need to unify," says Chris Havel, Associate Director for the Oregon Parks and Recreation department.
The bill comes at the request of the outdoor industry and state agencies, Oregon Outdoors, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, Mt. Hood Meadows, and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association. Currently, there are at least four state and federal government agencies that issue permits: the Bureau of Land Management, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service. Other states like Washington and Colorado have completed studies for consolidating a myriad of permits into one system, which Oregon can use as case studies.
The proposal is not without skeptics. Some members worry about environmental impacts and crowds overburdening infrastructure and resources. During a February 21 Senate hearing, Sen. Cliff Bentz (R-D30 Ontario), member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, encouraged Director for the Office of Outdoor Recreation Cailin O’Brien-Feeney to "please put a ‘protect the land’ feature in your work.” Added fellow committee member Sen. Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay): “the idea of limited access is something I hope you’ll consider.”
If passed by the end of this legislative session on June 30, the results of the study will be due on September 15, 2019, in time for the 2020 assembly.