To the editor:
In the 1960s, '70s and into the '80s timber receipts supported the public schools and maintained the roads. Wallowa-Whitman, being the size it is, made Baker County very fortunate. We did not have to go the government with our hand out.
Then we suffered the onset of the tussock moth, pine bore beetle and spruce budworm and were unable to spray to eradicate the problem. It took 17 years for the West Coast to realize that there was one.
Unhealthy forests are a tinder box and prone to burn. We were not allowed to andquot;fightandquot; fire. Consequently, a major portion of the Forest Service budget was allocated to fire suppression.
Next, we lost our 106-year-old mill and resources of our town went down 47 percent in one year. How many towns of this size can take that kind of hit and survive? If not for the fact that we are a community we could not have.
At one time we had 23 companies working out of our shop. Thank God for Ash Grove, Marvin Wood Products, Behlen and a family wage job for the young families with homes and kids in school and parents to take care of.
Greg Walden has been the only congressman to realize the importance of our renewable forests and to recognize the independence of this part of the country.
Old growth is a fallacy. We do need to thin and always have but we also need to cut marketable trees. You have to extract something from the Earth in the form of logging, mining or agriculture to create wealth. The amount of timber that is being let this year won't cover the administrative costs incurred, let alone cover any county payments.
We must honor our commitments and contracts to our American companies. We cannot federalize our industries or we will end up like Cuba.