Starting in the 1960s, Oregon’s legislature and citizens began to take significant steps to preserve the state’s environment. In 1967 the legislature required businesses to obtain permits when discharging polluting substances into the Willamette River. In the same year the legislature purchased land for new state parks along the river’s banks, and in 1973 it adopted the Willamette River Greenway Act to preserve the river banks from haphazard development. In similar developments, in 1970 the state declared portions of six rivers as scenic rivers to be protected from dams or other impoundments. In 1971 the Oregon Forest Practices Act became the first in the country to require resource protection during logging operations.
In 1969 Oregon became the first state to adopt statewide land-use zoning. The law established ten land-use goals that local governments had to meet. In 1973 the enforcement of this law was given to the Land Conservation and Development Commission. A 1971 “bottle bill” banned no-deposit beverage bottles and cans with pull-top openers. In 1975 Oregon became the first state to prohibit the sale of aerosol cans containing fluorocarbons, chemicals suspected of posing a threat to the earth’s ozone layer. Oregon citizens also confronted other political issues. Civil rights was the most important of these concerns. The state passed laws barring discrimination in employment (1949), public accommodations (1953), and housing (1957). The state established commissions for Native Americans (1975), blacks (1980), Hispanics and women (both in 1983).
Women also moved into public office in greater numbers. Betty Roberts was the first woman appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1977 and to the state Supreme Court in 1982. Norma Paulus was elected the first woman secretary of state in 1976, the first woman to hold statewide public office. Barbara Roberts, elected in 1990, was Oregon’s first woman governor. Oregon became the first state in the nation to enact a law allowing physician-assisted suicides. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act was initially passed by voters in 1994, but referendums and legal action held up the implementation of the law. The state legislature put the measure back on the ballot in 1997, seeking its repeal, but voters rejected the measure by a substantial margin.
Increasingly the state has been affected by federal legislation and policies. Federal courts have protected the rights of Native Americans to their off-reservation fisheries, rights guaranteed by treaties in the 1850s. In 1980 Congress passed the Northwest Power Act, which authorized the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana to develop a 20-year electric power plan to provide a low-cost source of power while protecting the fish and other natural resources of the region.
In 1986 Congress created the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area to protect the cultural, economic, and natural resources of this region. The following year Oregon and Washington created a Columbia River Gorge Commission to work with the United States Forest Service to implement a regional management plan. Several Oregonians have gained positions of importance in the national government. Wayne Morse served in the United States Senate from 1945 to 1969, first as a Republican, then an independent, and finally as a Democrat. Morse won a national reputation as a supporter of labor, civil rights, and higher education, and as an opponent of the Vietnam War (1959-1975). Another influential Democratic Senator was Richard Neuberger, who, during the late 1950s, pressed for conservation and public power measures.
Other prominent senators were Republicans Mark Hatfield, an independent who has been a voice for peace in the U.S. Senate, and Robert Packwood, who was forced to resign in 1995 amid charges of sexual misconduct. "Oregon" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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