Oregon U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley introduced a bill last week to expand wilderness in the state. The legislation has failed to pass 3 times in Congress.
The bill would designate more than 200 thousand acres of land as wilderness or national recreation areas. The bill creates the Devils Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range southwest of Eugene. It also expands the Wild Rogue Wilderness. Josh Laughlin with the conservation group Cascadia Wildlands says he's hopeful public support can help get the bill passed this time.
Laughlin: "Devils Staircase and the Wild Rogue Wilderness areas are really legacy landscapes that are part of what makes Oregon so special and they're really long overdue for permanent protection and we applaud the Senators for moving the efforts forward once again."
Senators Wyden and Merkley and U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio have tried to expand Oregon's wilderness before. This time, Laughlin points out, it's a stand-alone bill, not tied to any logging proposals.