Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

Forest Service

The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 2): Conservation Areas in Which to Just Say No

The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 2): Conservation Areas in Which to Just Say No

While the how, when, where, and why of mining on federal public lands is important (see Part 1), at least as important is where notto mine on federal public lands. These include places where the public’s interest in the conservation of natural, historical, and cultural values outweighs the value of any minerals that might be had, places that have been reserved for the benefit of this and future generations rather than for the benefit of today’s corporation.

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The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 1): Where Done, If It Cannot Be Done Right, Then Do It the Least Wrong

The Hard Case of Hardrock Mining Reform (Part 1): Where Done, If It Cannot Be Done Right, Then Do It the Least Wrong

Today anybody, including foreign companies (as long as they own a domestic corporate shell), can enter most federal public lands and stake a claim, which the government treats as a right to mine. The government cannot say no to such hardrock mining, no matter how inappropriate.

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The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Part 2: Rounding It Out and Cleaning It Up (For Oregon, If Not Elsewhere)

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Part 2: Rounding It Out and Cleaning It Up (For Oregon, If Not Elsewhere)

Currently, less than 1 percent of Oregon streams, by mileage, are included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. An estimated additional 10,000 miles (less than 3 percent of the total mileage) of Oregon streams are eligible for inclusion.

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The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Part 1: A Vital National Conservation Purpose

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, Part 1: A Vital National Conservation Purpose

There are times when Congress acts in a visionary manner. (Is it less so today, or is it just me?) Such was the case in 1968 when it enacted into law the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

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Defensible Space: The Best and Only Hope for the Homeowner In or Near a Forest

Defensible Space: The Best and Only Hope for the Homeowner In or Near a Forest

If one is going to live in or near a forest, one assumes a higher risk of fire. The best way to minimize that risk is to seriously and continually create and maintain defensible space. It’s not cheap. If it were, it would have been done already.

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More Moral Hazard Than Fire Hazard: The Responsibility of Homeowners in the WUI

More Moral Hazard Than Fire Hazard: The Responsibility of Homeowners in the WUI

In the backcountry, fire is wonderful, necessary, and inevitable.... In the frontcountry, fire is awful, unnecessary, and preventable.... The biggest problem with fire occurs where the frontcountry meets the backcountry, the bureaucratically named wildland-urban interface (WUI: “woo-ee”).

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Preremembering Barbara Roberts, Oregon Conservationist

Preremembering Barbara Roberts, Oregon Conservationist

Millions of acres of federal old-growth forest still stand because of former Oregon governor Barbara Roberts (D). The Upper Klamath River would have another damn dam and not be safely within the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System if not for Roberts. Oregon would have some god-awful cyanide heap leach gold mines if not for her. If not for her . . . (there’s much more).

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The Columbia River Gorge Is Dead; Long Live the Columbia River Gorge—Unless Greg Walden Has His Way

The Columbia River Gorge Is Dead; Long Live the Columbia River Gorge—Unless Greg Walden Has His Way

In 1986, Congress enacted the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act to, among other things, “establish a national scenic area to protect and provide for the enhancement of the scenic, cultural, recreational, and natural resources of the Columbia River Gorge.” In 2017, Representative Greg Walden (R-2nd-OR) proposes to throw it out the window.

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The Columbia River Gorge Is Dead; Long Live the Columbia River Gorge—Unless Greg Walden Has His Way

Everyone—including many a card-carrying conservationist—just needs to take a deep breath. Yes, there was a relatively large forest fire mostly on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. However, the clearing of the smoke gave proof through the day that our gorge was still there. The Columbia River Gorge was not “destroyed,” “lost,” “gone up in smoke,” “consumed,” or “dead,” as suggested by generally hyperbolic media reports by generally hysterical reporters, often quoting generally hysterical gorge lovers.... Neither volcanic eruptions nor forest fires can be prevented—and that’s a beautiful thing.

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Dancing on the Dark Side: Wyden Guts His Own National Recreation Area System Bill

Dancing on the Dark Side: Wyden Guts His Own National Recreation Area System Bill

Senator Ron Wyden had a visionary and bold bill that would establish a National Recreation Area System. I strongly supported that legislative provision in a post to this Public Lands Blog.... I heaped praise on the Wyden-Blumenauer bill that would have established generally strong conservation and management standards for new national recreation areas.... Now I must heap scorn on the Wyden-Bishop bill. The section that would establish a National Recreation Area System has been gutted of any significant conservation value and would only change the color on the map, but not management on the ground.

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The Proposed Oregon Wildlands Act of 2017: Very Good but Not Yet Great

The Proposed Oregon Wildlands Act of 2017: Very Good but Not Yet Great

The congressional conservation pipeline is clogged. This is not because it is too full of fine legislation that would elevate the conservation status of certain public lands by designating wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, and other special protection areas, but because of the general dysfunction of Congress. (I hear it was worse before the Civil War.) One bill in that pipeline, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and cosponsored by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), is the proposed Oregon Wildlands Act (OWA) of 2017 (S.1548, 115th Congress).

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Closing the Mining Loophole for Wild and Scenic Rivers

Closing the Mining Loophole for Wild and Scenic Rivers

The federal public lands along more than half of the stream mileage in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NWSRS) can be mined, notwithstanding its congressional “protection” in wild and scenic rivers (WSRs). This is because the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 (WSRA) established three different classifications for WSR segments—wild, scenic, and recreational—and banned mining or not based on the classifications. The WSRA needs fixing to offer uniform protection against mining in the NWSRS.

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​​​​​​​Now That’s a Member of Congress!

​​​​​​​Now That’s a Member of Congress!

With some tweaks, the proposed Northern California Conservation and Recreation Act can be a great bill that when enacted into law will be a gift of enduring benefit to this and future generations of North Coast Californians, all Californians, and all Americans.

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The Westerman Bill: The Timber Industry’s Wet Dream

The Westerman Bill: The Timber Industry’s Wet Dream

Who wouldn’t want “resilient” (“able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions”) forests? With the name Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (H.R.2936, 115th Congress), what could possibly be wrong with this bill?

Everything. Judge neither a book by its cover nor a bill by its name.

Introduced by Representative Bruce Westerman (R-4th-AR), the bill is the timber industry’s wet dream legislation. In only his second term in Congress, Westerman has received more campaign contributions from Big Timber than any other industry.

The Westerman bill would legislate horrifically harmful public forest policy into law. 

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Increased Wilderness Demand Calls for Increased Wilderness Supply

The demand for wilderness and parks is most likely to increase despite any best efforts to limit Oregon's, so what about the supply of wilderness?

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