PORTLAND, Oregon - November 28 - Local business, government and conservation leaders today called on the Oregon congressional delegation to use the final one hundred hours of the 109th Congress to give Oregonians the one holiday present that is on everyone's list: Mt. Hood Wilderness.
As Congress prepares to reconvene Dec. 5 for the remainder of its "lame duck" session, Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith and Representatives Greg Walden and Earl Blumenauer have one more opportunity to pass bipartisan legislation to protect important public lands and rivers around Mount Hood.
During a press conference today at the Oregon Historical Society, the group of local leaders emphasized the broad bipartisan support of Mt. Hood protections and urged the delegation to quickly come together and pass Mt. Hood wilderness legislation this year.
"Only one hundred hours remain before Congress wraps up its work for this 2006 session and goes home," said Regna Merritt, executive director of Oregon Wild. "We urge Oregon's congressional delegation to use this precious time to come together and pass the strongest wilderness bill possible for Mt. Hood and the Gorge this year. By taking action today, our leaders can ensure that special places like Big Bottom, Roaring River, Larch Mountain and Twin Lakes remain unspoiled for generations to come."
Jeremiah Baumann of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) said, "There's no excuse to let this Congress end without protecting Mt. Hood. Oregonians overwhelmingly support Mt. Hood wilderness and Oregon's entire Congressional delegation is in support, with members of both parties calling it a top priority."
David Moryc, associate director of Government Affairs for American Rivers said, "Hopefully the Oregon delegation can work its holiday magic in the short 'lame duck' session and can deliver a legislative package that protects the wild and scenic rivers and public lands on Mt. Hood. With the Oregon Congressional delegation fully committed to getting legislation passed this year we are still hopeful that we will see the lasting protection of Mt. Hood become a reality during the 'lame duck' session next week."
Also joining the call for Mt. Hood Wilderness this year was Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten, Clackacraft Drift Boats representative Marty Sherman, Campaign for America's Wilderness Campaigns Director Ken Rait, Trout Unlimited Oregon Council Chair Tom Wolf and Sierra Club Oregon Chapter representative Ivan Maluski.