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Bentz claims Wyden’s wild and scenic river bill would lead to ‘burned and ruined’ watersheds

Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., speaks on House floor Tuesday in opposition to legislation to dramatically expand Oregon's wild and scenic waterways
C-SPAN/Rep. Bentz's office
Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., speaks on House floor Tuesday in opposition to legislation to dramatically expand Oregon's wild and scenic waterways

Says county commissioners have 'serious and unanswered concerns'; Wyden disputes claims

WASHINGTON Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., took to the House floor Tuesday to voice his opposition to S. 192, the River Democracy Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., which he claimed would leave 4.700 miles of newly designated Wild and Scenic waterways "waiting to be burned and ruined."

Bentz cited several concerns with the legislation raised by county commissioners in his mostly rural district. The most dire concern they cited, he said, was the level of bureaucracy the bill would place on areas already at risk of wildfire, thereby preventing the treatments necessary to protect watersheds and, ultimately, human lives.

"If passed, this bill would label some 4,700 miles of Oregon rivers, creeks, and streams as 'Wild and Scenic,' although a more appropriate phrase would be: 'just waiting to be burned and ruined," said Bentz. "The overwhelming majority of my 62 county commissioners have serious and unanswered concerns about the dangers the act presents. Chief among them is that this designation will prevent what needs to be done to protect these watersheds – placing them in a bureaucratic wasteland where it will take years, if not decades, to initiate and then complete plans that may or may not allow the treatment activities needed right now." 

A news release from his office said Bentz also mentioned several other concerns with the legislation, ranging from inadequate local input in the bill's creation and the doubling in size of existing wild and scenic corridors to the lack of protections for sustainable use of the land surrounding the watersheds.

This is not the first time Bentz voiced his district's concerns with the River Democracy Act. In November, Bentz sent a letter to 62 county commissioners across Oregon's Second Congressional District detailing the concerns he had heard from many of the commissioners.

Asked for a response, Wyden's office provided this statement Wednesday to NewsChannel 21:

"Sadly, it appears Congressman Bentz has not read Senator Wyden’s River Democracy Act. The bill text clearly states how wildfire management would be strengthened and increased. Specifically, the bill requires the agencies implement a fire risk reduction plan across a half-mile corridor on either side of the river. The proposal does nothing to impede the ability to fight fires. In fact, it requires land managers to take proactive steps to reduce wildfire risks to homes and businesses, and make these rivers safety corridors.

"Senator Wyden remains committed to working with individual Oregonians who want to make constructive suggestions in good faith. That’s what he’s been doing for more than two years, through multiple levels of outreach, including public open-to-all meetings, dozens of one-on-one staff meetings with county commissioners, along with requests for comment from the Association of Oregon Counties before the legislation was introduced.

"Congressman Bentz should have the same level of commitment to his constituents, rather than opposing clean drinking water and working to weaken fire protections that ultimately threaten the lives of Oregonians," Wyden concluded.

To read Congressman Bentz's remarks as prepared, click here.

KTVZ news sources



  1. Bentz is a sideways talking, honorless, insurrectionist shill who disgraces us like most of our other elected officials. I’ll be very happy when our state stops electing bozos and blowhards and votes on REAL statesmen like Tom McCall again.

    1. So true! Eh, you mean a “protest” gone really bad? At least that’s how Cliff the Clown described the Capitol insurrection:

      “I would not describe today as a ‘coup.’ I would call it a protest gone really wrong, really bad. A protest that should have stayed peaceful but turned violent and that’s simply wrong. It’s not a coup, at least as I understand such a thing.” -Cliff Bentz

      Cliff supported the “Big Lie” that led to the insurrection. It seems only fair that we make him a one and done.

  2. Regulations and bureaucratic oversight is required to keep nature safe from wild untamed people who expect to rape and pillage nature, piss in rivers and on sage brush. Toss beer cans willy nilly and drive over wildlife.

    I.e. lack of regulations led to Texas’s failed power grid. Similar exceptionalism from the feral rural citizens needs to protect us all from the wholesale denomination of our rivers ad Wildlands.

  3. More salty tears from another traitorous GQP clown. Glad to see this bill will be passed and the welfare ranchers will be held accountable for destructive practices.

  4. Saving wild / scenic rivers/ waterways should be always be a priority.

    Just take a trip down the Middle Fork (Salmon) …Frank Church Wilderness of No Return and it’s clear as to why.

    Bentz is a buffoon. First class.

  5. Bentz’s frumpy suits are lined with large donations from the timber industry, he doesn’t care about anything except his big donors bottom line.

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