A bill that passed the Oregon Senate today will allow disabled veterans and active duty military personnel to enjoy Oregon’s state forests free of charge.

Senate Bill 116 – which passed the Oregon Senate by a unanimous vote – requires Oregon Department of Forestry to honor the existing State Parks and Recreation Department access pass issued to active duty military personnel on leave for specific holidays and to disabled veterans to enjoy recreation areas on forest lands free of charge. Sen. Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro), himself a United States armed forces veteran, is the bill’s chief sponsor.

“If someone is serving in our country’s military or has become disabled during military service, the least we can do is give them access to our state’s wonderful recreational and natural resources amenities at no charge,” Riley said. “I am a big believer that these men and women put their lives on the line for this nation and we should be doing everything we can to pay them back for their service and sacrifices for our country.”

Oregon offers a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife currently offers a permanent combined hunting and fishing license for qualifying disabled veterans. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department provides a free day-use pass, as well as free camping at RV and tent sites year-round, for disabled veterans and for United States armed forces active duty personnel who are on leave on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

Senate Bill 116 provides similar free access to veterans and active duty personnel on leave to state forest lands managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Senate Bill 116 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.