Date: Monday, March 20, 2023
MEDFORD, Ore. — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was in Oregon this weekend to highlight Biden-Harris administration investments to support wildland fire preparedness, water management and outdoor recreation opportunities across the state. She was joined by Senator Jeff Merkley, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Joan M. Mooney, and Department leaders to meet with local, state, federal and Tribal leaders, Interior Department employees and local stakeholders to hear directly about the issues facing their communities.
The group met with area Tribal leaders — including the Burns Paiute, Confederated Tribes of Coos, Coquille, Cow Creek, Grand Ronde, Klamath, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, Siletz, Umatilla and Warm Springs Tribes — to hear about ongoing priorities in their communities and how Biden-Harris investments in Indian Country can continue to deliver support and resources across Indigenous communities.
In Bend, Secretary Haaland, Senator Merkley, and Mayor of Bend Melanie Kebler hosted a roundtable discussion with local outdoor recreation enthusiasts, business owners and conservation advocates to discuss the importance of outdoor recreation for the local economy. Secretary Haaland praised investments from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), a landmark conservation law that helps protect and improve our public lands and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools in part by addressing overdue maintenance needs.
As part of her efforts to highlight GAOA investments across the nation, Secretary Haaland visited Crater Lake National Park, which is receiving $45 million from GAOA’s Legacy Restoration Fund to rehabilitate sections of the East Rim Drive. Overall, funding for Oregon from the Legacy Restoration Fund is estimated to address $130 million in deferred maintenance across the state’s public lands. President Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget proposal includes an additional $4 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, permanently funded through GAOA, for two projects in Oregon – the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and the Willamette Valley Conservation Area.
Secretary Haaland and Senator Merkley also traveled to the Klamath Falls region, where they met with Tribes, irrigators, and Interior Department staff focused on the urgent water and wildlife issues impacting the Klamath Basin. They visited several sites throughout the area – including the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath A Canal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Klamath Lake Fish Hatchery, and the Barnes and Agency Lake Units at Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge – where they heard about the unique challenges and opportunities facing the region.
Over the past 20 years, the Klamath Basin has met unprecedented challenges due to ongoing drought conditions, limited water supply and diverse needs. The Interior Department has sought collaborative solutions that help minimize the impacts of the drought and facilitate long-term conservation and economic growth. Key investments over the last several months include historic funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for ecosystem restoration and aquatic ecosystem initiatives, grant funding for salmon restoration projects, and a new restoration and resilience framework that identifies the Klamath Basin as a Keystone Initiative. These targeted and strategic announcements are demonstrative of the Department’s commitment to the continued efforts in the Klamath region.
In Medford, Secretary Haaland and Senator Merkley met with local wildland fire preparedness and response officials, including from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, to receive a briefing on the state’s fire outlook and discuss ongoing wildland fire efforts. Secretary Haaland announced that the Department is investing more than $21 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law this year for wildfire risk reductions efforts in Oregon. Since December, the Department has announced $278 million across the country for wildland fire management efforts this year — $50 million of which was announced last week.