The Oregon legislature held a hearing this week that would establish a new mechanism for funding the work of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources considered HB 4015 during their committee meeting that included supportive testimony from a variety of advocates including the recreation industry and conservation interests.
The proposed bill would establish the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund. By establishing the fund, Oregon could become eligible to receive additional investment from the federal government of up to $26 million dollars each year. However, those additional funds could only be accessed if the state were to allocate $13 million to the fund as well, a stretch from the $40,000 proposed in an amendment to the bill considered by the committee. Federal investment is also dependent on the passage of pending federal legislation known as the "Recovering America's Wildlife Act." While the federal act enjoys bipartisan support, there is no current source of funding for the measure, a necessity under the federal government's "Pay As You Go" requirements.
Native Fish Society provided written comments in support of HB 4015 in advance of the committee's hearing. NFS encouraged the committee to support establishment of the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund in order to bring increased capacity and financial stability to ODFW. We also advocated for ensuring that the funds were allocated toward those programs and opportunities that are based in the best available science and have the greatest potential to impact the conservation and recovery of our wild, native fish and their habitats.