Friends of the Columbia Gorge Statement
"Ensuring equitable access for all Oregonians to state parks and lands benefits us all," Friends Executive Director Kevin Gorman stressed.Press Contact: Burt Edwards, communications director | 703.861.8237 (Cell) | email@example.com (email)
PORTLAND, OR – On April 28, the Oregon State Senate approved SB 289 (Ayes, 25; Nays, 3: Boquist, Linthicum, Thatcher; Excused, 2: Heard, Kennemer). As amended in committee, the bill would help protect the public from bias crimes by prohibiting persons convicted of violations of ORS 166.155 and ORS 166.165 on public lands from using state parks and state waters for a period of at least six months, but not longer than five years. It would also suspend or revoke licenses for recreation uses and prohibit the issuance of licenses for a period of at least six months, but not longer than five years.
In reaction to the bill's Senate passage, Friends of the Columbia Gorge Executive Director Kevin Gorman stated:
"Many of our fellow Oregonians don't feel safe on public lands. Today the Oregon State Senate took an important step forward to ensuring the Columbia Gorge and all Oregon public lands are safe for all. We urge leadership in the House to follow with quick action to set strong standards for penalties and restorative justice activities when hate and bias crimes are committed in Oregon parks, public lands, or waters.
"Ensuring equitable access for all Oregonians to state parks and lands benefits us all. The Columbia Gorge is a national treasure and should be a safe space for all. No one ever should have to fear that they or their loved ones might be harassed or attacked due to their skin color, gender identity, ethnic background, or religious beliefs while visiting a state park.
"Gov. Kate Brown's Office listened when Oregon residents voiced their increased concerns on safety, access, and equity outdoors last year. The Oregon State Senate stepped-up, developing legislation based on those concerns. Now the House must act."
Background InformationSB 289 – Safety in the Outdoors
The bill seeks to reduce and eliminate bias crimes and incidents on state managed property by creating penalties sufficient to provide a deterrent to the perpetrators. The bill will accomplish this by:
- Requiring agencies to communicate with each other about restrictions on a person that has been convicted of a bias crime
- Includes definition of the crimes and incidents that are under the purview of list of authorized state agencies.
- Defines what privilege(s) are to be withheld from perpetrators of such crimes and incidents. These privileges shall include but not be limited to access to Oregon State Parks, access to fishing, hunting, and shellfish licenses, and recreational permits.
- Setting a standard of process for when a bias crime or incident has occurred and how the relevant state agency will assess an appropriate penalty including revocation and denial of state privileges administered by natural resources agencies for a period up to and including five years.
- Addition of bias crimes and bias incidents shall be added to the reasons state agency boards and commissions may revoke or deny licenses.
- Enabling the convicted person to engage in restorative justice activities like community service and anti-bias training
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Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a conservation organization with over 6,500 members dedicated to protecting, preserving, and stewarding the Columbia Gorge for future generations. Friends maintains an office in Portland, Oregon, as well as in two Gorge towns—Hood River, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington. Learn more: gorgefriends.org or follow us: @GorgeFriends