All the proposals for marine reserves off Cape Arago are irrelevant if none of them answers who'll pay for it, an Oregon legislator said Wednesday.
Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, addressed an information-gathering meeting hosted in Bandon by the Port of Coos Bay's Marine Reserves Committee. Similar meetings are scheduled in Charleston and Reedsport.
Without financing, any area reserved for study would be just another unfunded program -- with no hope of finding money in the state's current deficit-plagued budget.
'I will support the funding of the current marine reserves," he said.
'But creating new programs without the funding for them is how we got into this (crisis)."
Krieger also said that the original question that then-Gov. John Kitzhaber asked in 2002 -- starting the whole marine reserves process -- is being ignored:
''Would a limited system of marine reserves be beneficial to Oregon?'" Krieger quoted.
'We got clear to where we are now without ever answering that question.
'There's no reason to have a marine reserve unless you're going to study it."
There's no money, he said, to study reserves now.
Besides Krieger, only six of the 35 citizens attending the meeting offered spoken comments. A few others submitted written suggestions.
The most specific comments came from two officials of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw.
'The ink is hardly dry on the paper that returned Gregory Point to the tribe, but now they are putting restrictions on it," said George Barton, chairman of the tribes' Elders' Committee.
'My concern is that we still enjoy the traditional gathering rights guaranteed to us by the Treaty of 1855.
'We're not going to stop gathering mussels and seaweed."
Elder Chief Edgar Bowen added, however, 'We're not against any reserves as long as our rights are acknowledged."
Seeks bigger reserves
Other attendees spoke in more general terms.
Robin Hartmann of Roseburg, ocean program director of Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, praised the community process that produced the recommendations.
Earlier in the meeting, she said her group wants larger reserves than the ones the committee is considering.
In exchange, they'd advocate a moratorium on additional reserve designations.
But Scott Vierck of Bandon said, 'I'm adamantly opposed to marine reserves."
'It's a heritage to me, fishing," he said.
'We've been doing it, and there's still clams and still fish. A little regulation, but don't shut it down."
Another speaker suggested keeping protected areas near the shore instead of extending them to the three-mile territorial limit.
Wednesday's meeting in Bandon and those later this month seek to answer questions about the options and gather knowledgeable feedback from people with an interest in the affected areas.
Based on information received at the meetings, the committee may modify the proposals before choosing one to forward to the Port.
The Port will, in turn, forward that proposal to the state's Ocean Policy Advisory Council.
OPAC likely will forward it to the governor and Legislature to join five other proposals for areas along the coast.
Reporter Gail Elber can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 234, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.