Studded tires are a perennial topic in Oregon.

They can go on Nov. 1.

They must come off by April 1.

Except this year, when ODOT wisely elected to extend that deadline to April 11 at midnight.

Winter showed up late this year, meaning studs could come in handy well into April. The state made a good decision and extended the stud deadline.

But a mild winter also means ammunition for those who would ban studded tires.

Certainly, with time and traffic volume, studs can damage a road surface.

So can trucks and traffic, period. But studs are an easy scapegoat for lawmakers looking for cost savings -- or new sources of revenue, like studded tire fees.

Studs are perhaps an appropriate culprit when you consider a weekend skier from Tigard chewing up a moist but decidely not icy 217 with his studded tires during a weekday commute.

But for Eastern Oregonians making the haul from Baker City to John Day, or La Grande to Joseph, or from anywhere to Anthony Lakes on a powder day, much less driving from home to the grocery store during a typical winter day in Baker County (which is rarely typical).

Give up our studs? When Reinhold Messner scales the Matterhorn in tennis shoes, maybe we'll talk.

Until then, we want the option of putting crampons on our car when conditions warrant. Chains are a good option for motorists in temperate regions like the Willamette Valley.

Out here in the mountain valleys of Eastern Oregon, studs are far more convenient for everyday use in unpredictable conditions.

Like winter.

Or, for that matter, spring.