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Baltimore mourns Rep. Elijah Cummings, who 'Fought for All.' Also on our rundown: Rick Perry headed for door as Energy Secretary; and EPA holds its only hearing on rolling back methane regulations.

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Hunters and Anglers Protest New Oregon BLM Plan

January 3, 2008

Medford, OR – Oregon hunters and anglers are voicing their disapproval of a new federal plan for managing public lands in the Western part of the state. They say the plan by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management focuses too much on increasing timber production and creating what they call "ATV playgrounds," and not enough on preserving habitat for wildlife and fish.

Mike Beagle, of Trout Unlimited, says the agency's Western Oregon Plan Revision would allow logging within 25 feet of streams, authorize 1,000 miles of new roads, and replace some prime deer and elk habitat with tree farms.

"We definitely don't want to see low-elevation oak savannas, buck brush and manzanita habitat replaced with conifer plantations."

Beagle says hunting and fishing groups think there are ways to allow logging while increasing protections for the environment, but they don't feel the 1,600-page proposal accomplishes that. His concerns include new areas the plan would set aside for off-road vehicles, because, he says, no agency has the money or responsibility for patrolling those areas.

"We understand that they're trying to consolidate those areas and get people to go to them for more heavy motorized use, whether it's motorcycles or ATVs. But we're concerned that it's not going to get policed, and those areas are going to get trashed."

Beagle believes off-road access should be considered region by region. The BLM says the plan is the result of more than a hundred meetings with stakeholders. It can be viewed online at www.blm.gov/or/plans/wopr. The public comment period on the plan ends January 11.

The sportsmen's groups include Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the Berkeley Conservation Institute, the Native Fish Society, the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Assn., the Oregon Division of the Izaak Walton League of America, and Trout Unlimited. Together, they have released their own report in response; "Shared Land, Shared Future" can be viewed at www.tu.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR