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    OHC Signs onto Letter to Save the Office of Outdoor Recreation and Invest in Trails

    The Oregon Horse Council joined other local trail user groups and signed the letter below, we encourage you to do the same by Noon, June 15th.

    Cal Mukumoto, Chair
    Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission
    725 Summer Street NE, Suite C
    Salem, OR 97301

    Cc: Governor Brown

    June 15, 2020

    Dear Chair Mukumoto and Commissioners,

    The Oregon Trails Coalition is a coalition of broad-based, statewide trail interests dedicated to supporting, promoting, and advocating for the preservation, development, and stewardship of a statewide network of sustainable, world class trails that provide access to outdoor recreation and active transportation for all. We are a coalition of federal, state, and local agencies, trail user groups, outdoor industry partners, media professionals, and volunteer organizations. We span Oregon’s urban and rural communities and represent all trail users from urban, multi-use paths to backcountry trails. We include hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, OHV riders, nordic skiers, paddlers, trail runners, mobility device users, and more. We know from the most recent Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan that 74% of Oregonians recreate on local trails, and trails are one of the highest investment priorities for the public. Additionally, trail based recreation is critical to Oregon’s rural economies.

    We are in challenging times. Covid-19 has impacted us all, and has had disproportionate health, economic, and social impacts on communities of color, older adults, and people with disabilities. This knowledge, coupled with the current national spotlight on the lack of safety of our Black community members in our public spaces, is a call to action to all of us. We cannot let current budget cuts widen existing disparities in health, safety, mobility, and economic prosperity.

    We want to recognize and celebrate the leadership of OPRD and the Office of Outdoor Recreation over the last few months in coordinating a collaborative approach for Oregon’s parks and public lands to respond appropriately to Covid-19. We also want to share our grief at the near term losses the agency is facing in staff, programs, and operations due to the severe decline in agency revenue from lottery and visitor fees. We know OPRD leadership has been faced with extraordinarily difficult decisions, and our thoughts are with both those who’ve lost jobs, and those who’ve lost valued team members.

    As the Commission and OPRD face the current losses, and rebuilds in the future, we hope you will commit to the following.
    -Continue to house the Office of Outdoor Recreation within OPRD and maintain current staffing levels while long term cost-share agreements among multiple agencies and industry partners, and a long-term home for this work can be established.
    -Focus internal efforts on equity, diversity, and inclusion, and remain committed to forwarding equity recommendations from the Governor’s Taskforce on the Outdoors.
    -Continue OPRD’s commitment to completing and executing the Oregon Coast Trail Action Plan, and continue participating in other cross-agency signature trail partnerships such as the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail and Salmonberry Trail.

    As revenue is restored from lottery funds, user fees, or newly identified sources:
    -Restore the Local Government Grant program.
    -Restore key staff positions that support maintenance and improvement of trails on State Parks land.
    -Restore staff positions in planning, coordination, and technical service roles that support the development and stewardship of our statewide trails system.

    We, the undersigned, remain committed to partnering in the realization of our shared goals for a trails system that provides access to all Oregonians while preserving our ecosystems and cultural heritage for future generations.

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