By Isabelle Tavares, Columbia Insight
When Chad Brown, Navy veteran and fly fisherman, parked his car before setting out to a river, he never expected he’d return to find his brake lines cut. But they had been.
His apparent offense? Being a Black man fishing in Oregon.
Brown—who recounted his experience with backwoods bias for Columbia Insight in 2020—was one of more than 20 Oregon residents who testified before an Oregon Senate committee on bias they’ve experienced in outdoor spaces.
On April 8, Oregon’s Senate Energy and Environment Committee approved legislation that safeguards the public from bias and hate crimes committed on public lands. People convicted of a bias crime on public lands or waters will not be allowed in those areas for up to five years.
“The conservation community cannot be silent on issues of justice, equality and access to the outdoors,” said Kevin Gorman, executive director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge, in a press release. “At a time when hate and bias crimes are increasing around the country, including here in the Pacific Northwest, we can and must do better.”