Andy Kerr

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

Wild and Scenic Rivers

Wither the Wild Rogue?

Wither the Wild Rogue?

When Representative Greg Walden (R-2nd-OR) hears “the Rogue,” he happily dreams of the roar of chainsaws. But now Walden is down and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-4th-OR) is up, and the stars have aligned to save the Wild Rogue. You can help.

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Where the Buffalo Roam

Where the Buffalo Roam

Grasslands get little respect. So easily are they converted to agriculture that grasslands are the least protected biome on Earth.

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Filling the Congressional Conservation Pipeline for When It Unclogs

Filling the Congressional Conservation Pipeline for When It Unclogs

Several mostly good public lands conservation bills have been introduced in the 115th Congress (2017–18) but languish in committee, unable to get a vote on the floor of the House or the Senate.

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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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Selling More Heroin to Pay for Methadone: Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Part 2

Selling More Heroin to Pay for Methadone: Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Part 2

As part of the tax bill recently signed into law by President Trump, at the behest Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Congress opened up Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling. The next battle over drilling the in the refuge is about to commence. For the caribou and nature, each battle must be won or at least a draw. For the forces of darkness, they must only win once.

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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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Oregon’s Wildlands Should Matter At Least as Much to Oregon Legislators as Alaska's and Utah's

Oregon’s Wildlands Should Matter At Least as Much to Oregon Legislators as Alaska's and Utah's

However, their cosponsoring a tundra wilderness bill in Alaska and a red rocks wilderness bill in Utah—at relatively large acreages of 1.6 and 9.1 million acres respectively—contrasts unfavorably with the Oregon congressional delegation’s efforts to conserve and restore Oregon’s green forests, tan deserts, and blue waters for the benefit of this and future generations.

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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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Federal Systems for the Conservation and Enjoyment of Lands and Waters

Federal Systems for the Conservation and Enjoyment of Lands and Waters

Federal conservation systems are an unqualified social good and generally provide elevated protection and better management to important federal public lands and to resources and areas of high national significance. All existing federal conservation systems could be improved, and none should be weakened or discarded. Those that haven’t yet been codified by Congress need to be.

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The National Wildlife Refuge System, Part 2: Historical Evolution and Current Challenges

Our beloved National Wildlife Refuge System arose with little systematic thought. From President Theodore Roosevelt’s proclamations of the first “national bird reservations,” many areas have been established under a multitude of names (wildlife refuges, wildlife ranges, game ranges, wildlife management areas, waterfowl production areas, and more). What they all have in common is that their primary purpose is the conservation of native animals.

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Privatizing Federal Public Lands in Western Oregon

Privatizing Federal Public Lands in Western Oregon

In its recently revised resource management plans for western Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management has identified 290 parcels of federal public lands, ranging in size from 0.01 to 440.2 acres and totaling 18,458.95 acres, as suitable for disposal. Although disposing of 0.7 percent of the approximately 2,600,000 acres of western Oregon BLM public lands may not seem like a big deal, many of these parcels have high public values.

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Preremembering Bob Packwood, Oregon Conservationist

Preremembering Bob Packwood, Oregon Conservationist

The Snake River in Hells Canyon would be dammed today if not for former Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR). The French Pete watershed would not have been returned to its rightful place in the Three Sisters Wilderness if not for Packwood.

No, Packwood is not dead yet, but he is in his ninth decade (and with all his marbles, the last time I saw him). I am implementing a new policy to remember some Oregon public lands conservation greats before they, in words from Hamlet’s "To be, or not to be" soliloquy, “have shuffled off this mortal coil mortal coil.” It is an interesting exercise and a challenge to write a remembrance of someone not yet passed. I’ll call it a premembrance.

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The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System: Room for More Streams

Alas, Congress adjourned at the end of 2016 without enacting the Oregon Wildlands Act into law. We expect the bill to be reintroduced in the next Congress but are not optimistic about its passage. But while the congressional conservation pipeline may be clogged, it is not full. Now is the time for more legislation to be introduced to designate more wild and scenic rivers in Oregon.

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