Governor urges progress on improved habitat, more jobs in rural Oregon
(Portland, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber today met with Neil Kornze, director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, to discuss federal lands management, habitat conservation, and the importance of creating jobs and supporting rural economies in areas of the state near BLM-managed land. The meeting offered the Governor an opportunity to congratulate Mr. Kornze on his appointment this past spring to head the BLM and talk about the Governor's agenda for sustainable working lands and conservation.
"We’re showing in Oregon that healthy habitat and healthy communities are tied to responsible natural resource management," said Governor Kitzhaber. "It’s critical that we have strong relationships with both our federal partners and with local communities to move forward on building a more prosperous future for rural Oregon that includes conserving natural resources and creating jobs."
The Governor and Director Kornze discussed issues on and near BLM land across the state, including sage grouse conservation and management of 2.8 million acres of federally owned land known collectively as O&C lands.
On O&C lands, the discussion focused on the Governor’s strong support for Senator Wyden's and Congressman DeFazio’s efforts to find a long-term solution that provides increases in sustainable timber harvest and locks in conservation gains made over the last 20 years. "This is a complex issue, with many of our counties deeply impacted by lack of funds to keep basic public service afloat," the Governor said. "The situation is urgent, and Oregon needs support for the delegation’s efforts to craft a resolution that works for both our environment and the people who are dependent on sustainable timber use."
In preparation for the Endangered Species Act status review of sage grouse in 2015, the Governor’s Office has been working closely with Oregon-based BLM staff on its Resource Management Plan and with stakeholders on a state plan through the SageCon partnership. The state’s approach has focused on conservation of the ground-nesting bird’s habitat while engaging ranchers, energy companies, and others on strategies that simultaneously support conservation efforts and a sustainable path for community and economic development.