BEND, Ore. - Bend is a mecca for outdoor recreation, which is why it made sense for Gov. Kate Brown to sign a bill about it in Bend Friday.
The bill Brown signed creates an Office of Outdoor Recreation within the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
That means the office will be the point of contact for outdoor retailers, companies and tour operators when it comes to working with public agencies to create new policies.
Several groups praised Gov. Brown for the action, including REI, the Mazamas and Ruffwear.
Bend and Redmond Parks and Recreation district representatives also were in attendance for the ceremony, held at Entre Prises Climbing Walls.
The governor said she believes this bill will help meld Oregonians' love of the outdoors with the economy.
"My goal is to make sure we're collaborating, federal to the local level, that we are making sure that we provide more opportunities for nontraditional users, people who don't typically get outside," Brown said.
"The bill had broad bipartisan support. I think everyone understands this is really good for Oregon's economy," she added.
According to the governor's office, Oregon's outdoor recreation and retail industry supports jobs for more than 20,000 Oregonians and pays $3 billion to working families.
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Chris Havel sayid the new office has the potential to enhance Oregon's outdoor opportunities even more.
"Whether you're urban or rural or left or right or a stay-at-home person who goes out for an afternoon walk or a rock climber, you all see the value and you know what it can do for you in your life. And making people happy, healthy citizens -- that feels good," Havel said.
The bill was partly inspired by Washington, Colorado and Utah, states that all have similar offices.
It's expected to cost Oregon up to $250,000 for two years.
That money will come from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's budget.
Here's Governor Kate Brown's news release about her Bend visit, which also included signing the Oregon Medal of Honor Memorial Highway bill:
(Salem, OR) — Governor Brown today visited Bend, where she attended the Bend Venture Conference and met with local entrepreneurs. Additionally, Governor Brown celebrated Central Oregon's growing outdoor recreation industry and ceremonially signed HB 3350, which creates the Office of Outdoor Recreation within the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
"Whether it’s kayaking along the Willamette River, hiking through the Little North Santiam Trail, or skiing at Mt. Bachelor— venturing outdoors is not just good for our health, it sustains a booming outdoor recreation industry throughout Oregon," Governor Brown said. "The newly created Office of Outdoor Recreation will connect more Oregonians to the outdoors, which in turn supports Oregon's innovative and world-renowned outdoor recreation retailers and businesses."
The Office of Outdoor Recreation is expected to open in January and will coordinate outdoor recreation policy across public agencies, with outdoor recreation retailers, companies, and tour operators, as well as with organizations that have a vested interest in seeing Oregon’s outdoor recreation reach its fullest potential in every corner of the state.
Oregon's outdoor recreation industry contributes to Oregon's thriving economy, and supports over 20,000 jobs for Oregonians. Many of the state's outdoor recreation and athletic companies are centered in Central Oregon, including a leading climbing wall manufacturer, Entre-Prises, which Governor Brown toured while in Bend. The company employs about 50 local residents and is part of a growing number of outdoor recreation businesses within Oregon.
Also while in Bend, Governor Brown ceremonially signed HB 2100 that designates all 451 miles of US Highway 20 in Oregon as the Oregon Medal of Honor Highway. The highway is the first of its kind in the nation and honors Oregon’s 26 Medal of Honor recipients who served during 8 major wars in 10 countries over 108 years from the Civil War to Vietnam.
Governor Brown joined in the unveiling of the Medal of Honor Highway sign and recognized Bend resident, Mr. Robert. D. "Bob" Maxwell, the nation’s oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. Mr. Maxwell is the only Medal of Honor recipient living in Oregon, who turns 97 on Oct. 26.