U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler met with recreation enthusiasts, local business representatives, and outdoors-related organizations at Bend’s OSU-Cascades campus Friday to discuss Oregon’s outdoor recreation economy.
Secretary Haaland said it was helpful to hear ideas to increase access to public space, “The horsemen that actually need some parking. They do a lot of backcountry work on the trails and so forth back there, so that’s an issue. We recognize that this outdoor economy just like the mayor said is an important one here in Bend and across Oregon. We got some suggestions. We’ll follow up.”
She noted it was good to hear a local perspective, “I feel that it’s my responsibility when I’m in places like this that I want to listen more than I talk. We got some great ideas about how we can move forward.”
Secretary Haaland said the intergovernmental multi-agency group, FICOR is dedicated to getting more Americans outdoors, “We all agree we need to make opportunities for children to be outdoors so that they can feel that connection at an early age.”
The Secretary’s trip to Oregon also included a meeting with state Indigenous leaders to discuss clean water projects. She also announced federal funding for maintenance projects and wildfire mitigation.
The Great American Outdoors Act will enable $130-million in deferred maintenance on State public lands. A $45-million project will rehabilitate East Rim Drive at Crater Lake National Park. Nearly $50-million in new allocations from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support wildland fire management in 2023.