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2B Wednesday, November 29, 2017 Appeal Tribune
What’s the ‘Office of Outdoor Recreation?’
Newly-developed unit will
look to further develop
state’s recreation economy
ZACH URNESS SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL
USA TODAY NETWORK
It would be easy to believe that Oregon's newly-cre-
ated Office of Outdoor Recreation is a needless extrav-
The state's snow-capped volcanoes and salmon-
filled rivers already fuel a $10.8 billion tourism indus-
try, support 141,000 jobs and host a population more
likely to spend time outdoors than the national average.
But dig deeper into Oregon’s relationship with the
outdoors and you’ll find some concerning trends, offi-
The percentage of Oregonians who take part in out-
door recreation has actually declined in some cases,
said Chris Havel with the Oregon Parks and Recreation
And the economic benefits from outdoor recreation,
while booming in places like Bend and Portland, have
lagged behind in other parts of the state.
"Why is that, and what can we do about it?" Havel
One answer is the Office of Outdoor Recreation,
which was created by the Oregon legislature last ses-
sion and was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown.
The goal, in a nutshell, is to take Oregon's recreation
economy from good to great.
The state is currently recruiting for a director of the
new unit, which will pay from $70,000 to $97,000 per
year. The job will become part of the Oregon Parks and
Recreation Department and was funded by legislation
that allocated $218,000 to $250,000 per biennium.
The new office has seen plenty of support, but it's
also been criticized as unnecessary and sparked con-
cerns about what types of recreation are prioritized.
The new office will be tasked with a host of priori-
ties, but Havel said they'll start with four goals.
uImproving access to outdoor recreation, whether
through new trails or better facilities.
uImproving participation levels in outdoor recrea-
tion, especially in communities that don’t typically take
u Stewardship of resources, whether by moderat-
ing crowded areas, bolstering ecological quality or
adapting to climate change.
u Sustainability of resources, so parks or camp-
grounds don’t fall into disrepair.
The job will also seek to address the statewide imbal-
ance in tourism and recreation. While places such as
the Columbia River Gorge and Bend area are often
overcrowded, many places on Oregon's South Coast
and Klamath-Siskiyou region are sparsely used.
"The goal is to see outdoor recreation reach its full
potential through a unified strategy," Havel said.
Hikers head into the shadow of South Sister, Oregon’s third-tallest mountain. The state’s snow-capped volcanoes and
salmon-filled rivers fuel a $10.8 billion tourism industry and support 141,000 jobs. ZACH URNESS/STATESMAN JOURNAL
Oregon is the fourth state to set up an office devoted
to outdoor recreation, following in the footsteps of
Utah, Washington, and Colorado.
In Utah, for example, the office awarded more than
$400,000 to recreation projects that funded everything
from trails systems to an archery range.
The office will face major challenges. As a state-lev-
el job, the office won't have direct power over the 53
percent of Oregon that's managed by the federal gov-
And the office will face skepticism from communi-
ties wary of bureaucracy or the type of recreation be-
The group that supported the creation of the office
included businesses such as Keen Footwear and REI
that primarily support recreation such as hiking, bik-
ing, and kayaking.
That makes groups that support hunting, fishing and
motorized recreation nervous about being overlooked.
“Despite the fact that hunting is a longstanding and
strong economic driver, Oregon's government con-
tinues to ignore it,” said Dominic Aiello, president of
the Oregon Outdoor Council, which promotes hunting.
“Travel Oregon, the state’s official tourism office,
doesn't even list hunting under the ‘Things To Do’ for
outdoor recreation in Oregon.
“It's beyond time that Oregon stops treating hunters
like a black sheep and give us a seat at the outdoor rec-
reation planning table.”
Havel said the office wouldn’t be beholden to any
group and would seek to represent all recreation uses.
He added that the advisory group to the office would
seek to represent every type of recreation.
“We’re not going to draw a boundary around recrea-
tion,” he said.
Havel said he did understand the monumental chal-
lenge the office would face as it ventures to become a
clearinghouse for an industry that spans such a wide
array of locations and activities.
"The size of it is pretty terrifying, and we know it will
be tough" Havel said.
"The only comfort is there's a large community
ready to help, and a hunger to find a better way for-
Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photogra-
pher and videographer in Oregon for nine years. He is
the author of the book “Hiking Southern Oregon” and
can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or
(503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORout-
Report: Oregon health agency’s money troubles double
HILLARY BORRUD THE OREGONIAN/OREGONLIVE
PORTLAND, Ore. – Money problems at the Oregon
agency that oversees Medicaid could be more than
twice as large as already disclosed, a new report re-
Due to errors involving abortion, prison, undocu-
mented immigrants and other factors, the state might
have overpaid its contractors or owe other entities as
much as $78 million, Oregon Health Authority director
Patrick Allen disclosed in a letter to Gov. Kate Brown
made public Nov. 27. That’s on top of $74 million in over-
payments The Oregonian/OregonLive reported last
The agency may have problems taking in money as
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well as doling it out. Allen listed $34 million that he said
is owed to the agency or went untapped, due to budget
and accounting problems. The report was Allen’s first
biweekly update to Gov. Kate Brown, who directed Al-
len to submit them in a Nov. 7 letter. Allen’s letter was
first reported by the East Oregonian on Nov 27.
The disclosures hint at the red meat the reports
could serve up to the campaign to overturn $340 million
in health taxes enacted to fund the state’s Medicaid pro-
gram. State auditors are also expected to release their
report on the state’s Medicaid system in the upcoming
weeks. Voters will decide in a Jan. 23 special election
whether to keep those taxes, which lawmakers narrow-
ly approved earlier this year.
In his letter to the governor, Allen laid out problems
that ranged from the state paying Medicaid benefits for
unauthorized immigrants to incorrectly using federal
funds to pay for abortions.
Allen was careful to say that in most cases, staffers
are still investigating the problems and the figures and
other details will likely change as they learn more. He
cited the following problems:
u Medicaid for unauthorized immigrants: Oregon
incorrectly paid health care organizations it contracted
with to care for an undisclosed number of unauthorized
immigrants, who were mistakenly listed in the state’s
computer system as being eligible for more than emer-
gency room care. Allen did not identify the time frame
in which the problem occurred, but it caused $25.7 mil-
Due to errors involving abortion,
prison, undocumented immigrants and
other factors, the state might have
overpaid its contractors or owe other
entities as much as $78 million.
lion in “payment errors and over-claimed federal
funds” which the health authority already repaid with
state general fund in June.
Health officials are still investigating another poten-
tial problem related to immigrants in the country ille-
gally. Medicaid covers some emergency care for unau-
thorized immigrants plus prenatal and delivery care
for pregnant women. As health staffers were preparing
to implement a new abortion law earlier this year, they
discovered the state might have been keeping these
mothers on Medicaid after their babies were born, a
time when the women were no longer eligible, Allen
wrote. Benefits might have continued if the mother’s
“provider does not notify us of the delivery date,” but
the state is still investigating the issue, according to Al-
See TROUBLES, Page 3B
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Continued from Page 1B
fair-weather recreationist, they can purchase the pass
at the park the first time they use it, say when the
weather warms in April (oh, please god, make it so; I
want to start the tomatoes in the greenhouse early).
Since the pass lists the month and the year that the
permit expires, the meter doesn’t start running until
they actually begin to use it.
Which gives the person the chance to cash in on
some off-season park visits if the fall/winter weather
cooperates in 2019 and 2020.
Oh, let it be so. I want to be picking those tomatoes in
the greenhouse in October.
I thought that approach was genius until another
friend who’s even more, ahem, cost-conscious than I
am (hard to believe, I know) unveiled his approach.
How tight is this thrifty friend who shall remain
nameless? Like a dug-in tick on a long-haired dog.
Which led to this exchange with somebody who’s
way over-analyzing the parks-pass purchase.
It was a long time ago, but the gist of it went some-
thing like this:
His strategy is to buy the two-year pass, but only on
the first day of the month that he plans to hit the road.
Let’s say you buy it on April 1, 2018, he explained.
Continued from Page 1B
come,” McGee said. “We’ve got the community sup-
port, the athletes, the coaches, we can be good at what-
ever we want to be. It’s just all about the effort, the
commitment. I think these kids will be hungry for
more after this one for sure.”
For as small of a school as Santiam is – it had 156
students in the 2016-2017 school year – it has a remark-
ably high concentration of athletes who have been on
Of all the athletes, two were on basketball team that
Since the pass only has the month and year that it ex-
pires, the last day of April 2020 in this case, you get a
whole extra month for free.
His example of a squandered opportunity is the gen-
erous gift-giver who buys a discounted yearly pass on
Dec. 1 to beat the rush. So it will expire on Dec. 31, 2018.
But they don’t actually give it to them until Dec. 25,
you know, Christmas, he continued, sounding as if he
was talking to a backward 5-year-old.
So you’re losing out on 24 extra days this year be-
tween the time you bought it and when you give it to
them, he said. And you only pick up six free days be-
tween Christmas and the end of December.
Case closed as far as the finagle king is concerned.
“OK. I think I get it,” I replied. “So you buy a gift
certificate good for the two-year pass, and tell the per-
son you give it to buy the permit on the first day of the
month they plan to visit a state park for the first time so
they get an extra month.”
He shook his head.
“And you claim you know me. Fifty bucks is way too
much to spend on a gift for anybody,” he said, sounding
indignant that I would even suggest such a thing. “I
was talking about myself.”
Henry Miller is a retired Statesman Journal colum-
nist and outdoor writer. You can contact him via email
won the 2A state championship in March and football
team: Keys and senior receiver Jordan Lanham, who
rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown and had four re-
ceptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s been an adventure, it’s been awesome,” Keys
said. “I love it. I love every moment of it.”
Over the course of this season, the community sup-
port around Santiam’s football team has grown.
The school that draws from Mill City, Gates, Detroit
and Idanha has played to bigger audiences each game.
“We’ve had people buy us food, we’ve had people
buy us hotel rooms,” McGee said. “That’s what got us
here is the people around us and the support and the
fun that they had doing it. It was awesome.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/