Letter to the Editor for March 31, 2014

By Baker City Herald readers April 01, 2014 08:01 am

Walden’s bill is about politics, not public access to forests

Last week, the Baker City Herald editorial staff wrote, “Rep. Greg Walden has gotten right to the heart of the debate over managing national forests and he only needed to write a four-page bill to do it.”

It’s time for a reality check.

It seems clear that Walden only threw this piece forward because I am on his heels, chasing his lackluster votes. I have heard for years from hunters, farmers, ranchers, loggers and outdoorsmen worried about their forest access and concerned with the deafness of Washington bureaucrats. 

They tell me of their frustration in writing endlessly to Walden’s office, their local papers, and their vain attendance in “public comment” sessions.

Do you really believe that Rep. Walden was suddenly moved by his love for our freedoms as Oregonians, or does this seem politically-motivated to you? Why have our forests been padlocked for years and why has his office been bragging about his ineffectual votes, until now? 

The Travel Management Plan comes from an agenda started 10 years ago. That’s when Republicans owned the executive and legislative branches of the federal machine. Yet, this debacle has been growing like a boil beneath the surface and is now ready to explode. Is this what it takes to get Washington’s attention?

This bill attempts to score political points without creating real change. It re-enforces the root problem — a profound disconnect between the boots on the ground and the shiny shoes in Washington. His mistake is the assumption that keeping power in the federal bureaucracy while giving purely political head-patting bonuses to commissioners will fix the problem.

As a county commissioner, I can tell you right now that we need much more than this weak attempt — we need ownership, real-world budgets and the ability to open our forests to all kinds of uses without federal overreach. 

I believe that we should be transferring all federally managed lands into the various jurisdictions where those lands are contained. We should be giving the resources back to the people with real action, not symbolic four-page bills.

Dennis Linthicum

Klamath County commissioner

Candidate for U.S. Congress

2nd Congressional District