Sport Fishing Leaders Call For Buckmaster’s Resignation
Sport fishing leaders are calling for the resignation of Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Bruce Buckmaster, one of the most contentious appointees to Oregon’s commission in decades. Buckmaster, who was appointed to the commission by Oregon Gov. Kate Brwn, is thought to be the driving force on Oregon’s reversal of the Columbia River reforms.
At a meet and greet event held in February at the Pacific Northwest Sportsman Show in Portland, six of the seven commissioners met with sport anglers to discuss the reforms, which were to remove non-tribal gill-nets off the mainstem Columbia River. At that meeting Dan Grogan, president of Fisherman’s Marine & Outdoor, publicly called for Buckmaster’s resignation. Fueled by years of frustration over gill-netting salmon on the Columbia River, Grogan’s request was met with a chorus of cheers from the crowd.
“To get on that commission he misled two governors, and one natural resource advisor,” Grogan told Salmon & Steelhead Journal. Grogan is referring to an article published on the Oregonian’s website Oregonlive April 24, 2015 where it was reported that Richard Whitman and Gov. Brown personally interviewed Buckmaster, as did former Gov. John Kitzhaber.
Grogan’s response to that?
“My feeling is that if you’re misleading the public to get on that commission I think you should resign.”
Grogan is not alone.
“I wholeheartedly agree with Dan’s point and Dan’s reasoning,” says Bruce Polley, Vice President of CCA Oregon. “Would we like him off there? Absolutely. Do we get to make that choice? No. It’s singularly Gov. Brown’s decision.”
The Association of Northwest Steelheaders circulated a petition to its members calling for Buckmaster’s resignation.
“We gathered 6,000 signatures in a 10-day time span that shows the clear wishes of the sport fishing community that Buckmaster has attempted to derail the reforms promised to the sport fishing community, and that should not be tolerated by this governor,” says Bob Rees, executive director of the Steelheaders
Gov. Brown has the option to remove commissioners at her discretion. Will that happen? It’s possible. It will become an issue to pay close attention to following commission vote in mid-March. Bringing this issue to a head, Gov. Brown sent a scathing letter to commission chair Michael Finley requesting the commission change its decision regarding the Columbia River reforms. She set a deadline for April 3. The letter was distributed hours before the meet and greet gathering at the sportsman’s show in February.
At its scheduled March 16-17 meeting in Corvallis, Oregon commissioners will again vote on the reforms per Brown’s letter that insisting they “honor those commitments” of the reform — something it did not do at its December 2016 meeting. Commissioners voted 4-3 not to adopt the reforms with Buckmaster, Laura Anderson, Holly Akenson and Greg Wolley voting against the reforms. Their votes came on the heels of Washington’s commission voting to approve the bi-lateral state reforms. Washington’s vote was crucial because it solidified the plan, and the Columbia River is managed concurrently with Oregon. Having each state manage the Columbia differently creates a host of issues, which were addressed by Gov. Brown in her Feb. 9 letter to Finley.
It is believed that Buckmaster, Akenson and Anderson will ignore Gov. Brown’s request and vote as they did previously. The one outlier is commissioner Greg Wolley. Should he change his vote to align with commissioners Jim Bittle, Bob Webber, and Finley then the reforms will go into effect this year.
Should the commission not adopt the reforms then Brown will be faced with more public outrage from sport anglers and conservation groups. And she will be forced to act.
“We were pleased that Gov. Brown weighed in strongly in support of these bi-state reforms and we’re counting on her to see these reforms adopted,” says Polley.