Oregon Senate Confirms Bruce Buckmaster to Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Seat

Posted on May 22, 2015

Today, by a 18-12 vote the Oregon Senate confirmed Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s appointment of Bruce Buckmaster to a four-year term on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission).  The appointment of Buckmaster, a long time Astoria resident and devoted advocate for Columbia River commercial gillnetting, drew the united opposition of the recreational fishing community and the ire of members of the environmental community.  
The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Oregon and its thousands of members across Oregon led the charge against the Buckmaster appointment, including helping to organize a May 19 rally in Salem that drew hundreds of concerned citizens and generating thousands of emails and phone calls into Governor Brown and members of the Senate in opposition to his confirmation.  Dave Schamp, CCA Oregon’s Chairman of the Board, released the following statement:   

We are disappointed by today’s Senate vote on the controversial nomination of Bruce Buckmaster to the Commission.  Thousands of concerned anglers, conservationists, and advocates for good government contacted their Senators in opposition to this appointment and made their voices heard.  The close nature of the vote reflects the level of controversy surrounding Buckmaster and we encourage every concerned citizen to review how their Senator voted and take a moment to thank those who voted no.  The official vote record can be found HERE.

While we remain concerned about the precedent this appointment sets and the message it sends to key constituencies of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, including the recreational fishing community, there were some positive outcomes from our efforts:

  • Governor Brown and key members of the Senate made it clear that Buckmaster’s appointment does not represent a departure from the bi-state Columbia River gillnet reforms.  In fact, Governor Brown committed to remove Buckmaster from the Commission if he even attempts to change the fundamental components of the plan.  We will be working to hold her accountable to these commitments.
  • Senators from both parties concluded that the Commission and agency leadership have become disconnected from ODFW’s primary constituency, the license buyers that fund the agency and dedicate themselves to the conservation of Oregon’s fish and wildlife.  Leaders from both parties also conceded that the recreational fishing community lacks adequate representation on the Commission, a problem they pledged to rectify through future Commission appointments.  These are promises we hope are kept.
  • The Buckmaster debate occurred at the same time as the legislature is considering ODFW’s proposed license fee increases on recreational anglers.  The funding disparity between recreational anglers, who generated over $60 million for ODFW’s current budget, and commercial fishing interests, who generate a small percentage of that, became clearer.  While we still have serious questions about the proposed fee increases, we hope the legislature understands that the future of ODFW lies with prioritizing recreational fishing opportunity and the resulting license sales, rather than simply raising license fees and offering the unsustainable status quo.

Buckmaster’s appointment galvanized tens of thousands of anglers, businesses, and conservationists like few issues could.  Although we’ve lost this battle, we know that we will ultimately prevail if we continue to make the voices of the 600,000-plus anglers heard in the state capitol and in ODFW’s offices.  That’s precisely what CCA Oregon remains focused on accomplishing.