Rebuild our land and economy
I read the story about Sen. Ron Wyden in the March 22 issue. Sen. Wyden stated some things that seem to go against the actions he normally takes when voting on issues concerning natural resources. He described it as: "pursuing this on a dual track: boosting timber cuts and providing a safety net that provides for schools, roads and police in resource dependent communities, and then our bipartisan coalition will also support reauthorizing the (Secure Rural Schools) payment program."
On the other hand, in February Wyden introduced three bills that will add thousands of acres to wilderness areas and national monuments and a lot of miles of Oregon rivers to the wild and scenic rivers system. Wyden said: "Each of these parts of the bill aim to protect natural treasures in Oregon, preserve them for use and enjoyment and build upon the economic opportunities they provide for their local communities."
As chairman of the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, he also warned that returning to the logging practices of the 1980s boom to replace county payments is not a viable solution because: "Experts tell us it is not possible to cut enough trees to produce historic levels of funding in rural counties and comply with the multiple uses of our federal forests that our communities want and meet our bedrock environmental laws."
I say that may be true about "not possible to cut enough trees," especially if you continue to introduce legislation that keeps removing more land from natural resource production, which includes mining. Even now, since there has been years of devastation to these industries, there may not be enough trained loggers or miners around, since they also had to move from the area to find other jobs.
Wyden's proposals are more like finishing off already struggling economically deprived communities. The tourist and recreationist opportunities cannot compete with jobs that support families from resource production. Wilderness is supposed to be lands that do not have evidence of man. Therefore, trading with private landowners to remove them from access to the water for cattle and farming, or limiting that access so that recreationists can float by is ridiculous and does more harm to the economies of the communities.
As fuel loads increase from overgrown forests that are now considered wilderness, should there be a fire (from natural causes) it will burn hotter and more complete. This has been known to sterilize the land, such that it takes even longer to come back. There will be no pristine beauty or treasure afterwards, because those fires are unstoppable.
We have more trees growing now than in the early years. It is because there was a point when we understood we needed to plant more trees than we harvest. In the 1980s it was standard practice to plant seven trees for every tree cut; some places did more.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that Secure Rural Schools was supposed to be temporary, to provide rural counties with time to rebuild their economies. I think it is misunderstood that everything we have comes from the earth: It has to be grown or mined, there is no other source. The more land you take out of production and remove evidence of man from, the more you take out of the economy and risk a devastating destruction of the land, because man is not there to tend the land and take from it the resources we need.
So how does a community rebuild its economy? The news article said that Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell "identified up to 83 million acres in need of treatment... 12.5 million acres require treatment using large machinery."
Well at least we have a start of recognition for part of the problem. There are less and less people able to produce because of too high restrictions on land use, and our government spends way too much on pet projects that frankly do not create family wage jobs. Maybe some are starting to see the light.
Guy Michael is a Baker County miner.
Chase has a strong commitment to OTEC
My husband and I are new Baker City residents. Many things brought us to this area - a thriving arts community, beautiful country, and plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. We also found out pretty quickly how wonderful the people of Baker City are. And one of the people we've been fortunate to meet is Charlene Chase, who is now running for the vacant spot on the OTEC board.
Charlene Chase's background as an educator, principal and school board member show that she has the background to qualify her for this position. Her community involvement, including being a CASA volunteer, shows that she has a genuine interest in the quality of life in our area.
One of the reasons Charlene Chase has said made her want to run for a position on the OTEC board is that she wants to preserve the original, strong commitment to have OTEC be a true cooperative - a utility that well serves all its members. Having such a utility is just one more reason my husband and I are so pleased to now live here. And that is why we are voting for Charlene Chase for the OTEC board.