WASHINGTON - The House Natural Resources Committee has informed Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) that it plans to hold a hearing on his travel management bill at the next available opportunity, his office said Friday.
His bill, the Forest Access in Rural Communities Act (H.R. 4272), "would stop the misguided travel management rule on national forests in the West and promote local control over future proposals that could restrict forest access," Walden's office said.
"I've always worked to bring management decisions about public lands back to where they belong—our rural communities. Federal agencies need to heed the input and wishes of local residents before making decisions about forest access or road closures," Walden said.
"My common-sense bill would put a stop to the misguided travel management rule and force the Forest Service to listen to Oregonians before restricting access to public forests," he added.
"I'm grateful for the support that's grown for this legislation across rural Oregon and in Congress. A hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee is the first step in passing this important measure," Walden continued.
Since introducing the bill in March, Walden has heard support for the proposal at community forums in La Grande and John Day.
Larry Cribbs, a representative from the Eastern Oregon All-Terrain Vehicle Association, told The Observer, "This legislation is put together with our thoughts, our comments, our opportunity up front, and they listened to everything we said." Union County Commissioner Mark Davidson said, "I fully support it. I think this is the kind of relationship that we always should have had."
Editorial boards in Oregon have also supported the measure. The Baker City Herald wrote, "Greg Walden has gotten right to the heart of the debate over managing national forests, and he only needed to write a four-page bill to do it," in an editorial entitled "Walden's bill has promise." The Bulletin in Bend declared "Walden's forest bill is just what's needed."