Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) last week approved the nomination of several new commissioners, among them Becky Hyde of Paisley.
Hyde, who was appointed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to a four-year term, is the first in several years from the Klamath Basin to join the commission. No stranger to ODFW-related issues, Hyde has for years worked with various commissions and committees surrounding often precarious and controversial issues related to environment, wildlife, fish, ranching and land use.
The ODFW commission is a seven-member panel addressing statewide issues regarding fish and wildlife resources. This can include fish hatcheries, hunting and fishing access, endangered species, and the often contentious matter of wolves, sage grouse habitat restoration and endangered species such as the shortnose and Lost River sucker.
Ranching and advocacy
Hyde, a rancher by trade, splits her time in multiple counties including Klamath and Lake at the family’s ranches, when not actively involved in various committees and coalitions addressing concerns and needs of issues regarding public and private lands, but calls Paisley home. Hyde was among several appointments to the ODFW commission unanimously approved on Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Hyde was heavily involved in tricky sage grouse habitat restoration negotiations between ranchers and environmental groups that ultimately prevented the Greater Western Sage Grouse from being listed as an endangered species. Hyde has also been an active participant in the “Coalition of the Willing” group addressing a range of water use and endangered species issues in the Klamath River Basin in Klamath, Modoc and Siskiyou counties. She has also been involved in wolf management plans – an issue near and dear to her as the Hyde family’s ranches have been directly impacted by wolf attacks.
“The Commission is dealing with serious issues surrounding fish and wildlife,” said Hyde. “As a rancher I have worked on water issues for several decades, and I have been very involved in resource conflict. We deal with a lot of these issues on private and public lands, and it’s my understanding that people have been waiting five to six years for someone in Eastern Oregon involved in ranching and farming to join the commission and bring that perspective. I am thankful the commission is giving a voice to communities on the eastern side of the Cascades.”
Hyde’s experience working on tricky negotiations will be of value, being able to find common ground on issues that often stoke great controversy. While her first meeting as a commission member doesn’t occur until December, she has already been fielding phone calls from the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the Farm Bureau to environmental groups to discuss issues the commission is facing.
“There are issues such as fishing on the Columbia River that I need to get up to speed on because I haven’t been engaged in it, but I have been very involved with fish issues in Klamath and I have been a part of almost every major settlement effort in Klamath for the last 20 years. I have a long history of trying to find new ground, not just common ground, to solve problems.”
While Hyde identifies as Republican, she prides herself on being able to work and negotiate across political spectrums and maintain a fruitful dialogue during tricky topics.
“We share a deep care for land and fish and wildlife in our communities, these are basic deep things we need to not forget when we get into these deep conversations,” explained Hyde. “In the end we need hard work, common sense, and problem-solving. Serving our rural communities, our durable eastside communities, has been my passion my whole life.”
‘Advocating for compromise’
“The Department is excited to have Becky Hyde appointed to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, and to have a fully seated, diverse commission to work with,” said Shannon Hurn, ODFW deputy director. “Commissioner Hyde has worked with many agencies, tribes and stakeholders on Klamath Basin water issues. She is known for consistently advocating for compromise when tackling challenging problems. Her appointment is important as she brings a working lands conservation background to the commission. She displays a truly collaborative nature and has demonstrated a commitment to healthy landscapes and the strong work ethic found in Eastern Oregon.”
The ODFW commission is headquartered in Salem, with regional offices in Clackamas County and La Grande, along with 10 district offices statewide. Commissioners are tasked with formulating general state programs and policies for management and conservation for fish and wildlife resources while determining limitations on recreational and commercial take.
According to Hurn, the ODFW commission’s immediate concerns to be addressed include an adaptive management strategy for Columbia River Reform policies that regulate important commercial, tribal and recreational fisheries jointly with the federal government, Washington state and Columbia River Tribes. The commission’s goal remains a commitment to sustainable wildlife management and maintaining habitats to support them; especially with changes in precipitation, increased wildfire danger, and invasive species causing significant challenges to management, according to Hurn.
“I heard over and over while going through the process of being on the commission that there is usually a great deal of controversy getting on the commission, so it makes me even more thankful that I am able to participate,” added Hyde. “I think that goes back to years of work on the Klamath side that has been very problem solving-oriented, like sage grouse plans. There is a lot of hard work that has gone in from communities on the sage grouse plan and wolf plan.”
Hyde’s family operates ranches on the Upper Williamson in northern Klamath County in addition to the Paisley area in Lake County.
“When we were nominated they took us around the state legislature to meet with state senators on both sides of the aisle, and almost every senator asked why I would want to be on this commission because it’s so contentious,” laughed Hyde. “I said, ‘Have you been to the Klamath Basin any time in the last 20 years?’ ”
Hyde will begin serving her term immediately, with ODFW commission meetings scheduled in December.