Below is a news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supported the bill.
Governor Kate Brown has signed House Bill 2171, an omnibus recreation bill, which means that the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund (OCRF) will continue to support fish and wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation throughout the state.
“The Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund has been a great opportunity to broaden the base of support for implementing the Oregon Conservation Strategy. The Department is grateful that the program will continue,” said Curt Melcher, Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Oregon Legislature removed the program’s 2021 sunset and allocated just over $2.5 million to OCRF for projects designed to implement the Oregon Conservation Strategy and connect people to the outdoors.
Total new funding for OCRF includes $545,000 from the General Fund to match donations to the Fund that were generated in the 2019-2021 biennium and $1 million from the General Fund that must be matched with an additional $1 million from the private sector. It also includes an additional $1 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, as earmarked by Representative Ken Helm of Beaverton.
“I’m thrilled to see support for the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund, which facilitates incredible investments in local communities and habitats all across the state,” said Representative Ken Helm. “Recognizing that the outdoors is critical to our health and well-being, House Bill 2171 seeks to increase access to outdoor recreation opportunities for underserved populations and to preserve our natural landscapes for generations to come,” added Helm.
OCRF expenditures are developed by the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee.
On Aug. 30, the Committee announced the next opportunity to apply for grants this biennium. The deadline to apply is October 22. Interested applicants should visit: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/OCRF/grants.asp.
OCRF was originally created by the Legislature in 2019 as a public-private partnership to fund projects that conserve wildlife, restore habitat and connect people with nature. More than $545,000 was generated from private donations to fund 29 projects in the past two years, but public money was not available because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent legislative action restored the commitment for the state to match private donations. Private donations will continue to be matched with state funds through June 2023.
(Photo source: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)