Letters to the Editor, Jan. 12
As Southern Oregon Veterans for Peace, we oppose the inappropriate (and likely illegal) occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Sanctuary, property of the American People and Native American sacred lands by this self-proclaimed and misnamed militia, who are armed and threatening our public servants and law enforcement.
If they wish to protest an action by our elected government, there are many appropriate and legal ways to express their opinions, and opinion is all their expressions are, as they are not the constitutional scholars that they somehow feel themselves to be.
We fully approve and support the restraint and measured approach by the FBI and local officials in Harney County, Burns and others involved in avoiding bloodshed in the foolhardy gambit by a handful of misguided malcontents. We ask that these ragtag lawbreakers be starved out and arrested as they attempt to depart. We also ask the BLM to revisit their grazing fees and policies for those like the Bundy clan who refuse to pay and graze their cattle freely on our property, while their neighbors pay their fair share.
Thinning protects forests
Wilderness designation won’t protect our forests, but thinning and fuels reduction will.
If thinning is good for the Ashland Watershed and Big Butte Springs watershed (Medford water supply), why isn’t it good for the Lower Rogue Watershed and Crater Lake Watershed? We should be protecting our critical watersheds by being proactive, that is using our best technology to make sure forests don’t burn catastrophically.
A huge wilderness area is proposed for miles surrounding Crater Lake and the Lower Rogue areas with campaign rhetoric saying if done it will “preserve” those watersheds. That is propaganda that doesn’t ring true when we know that to protect our watersheds we need to reduce fuels. Moreover, we don’t fight fires in wilderness areas, so the proposed wilderness could burn, like the Kalmiopsis Wilderness has repeatedly burned.
Wilderness is a political designation that no longer serves the general public or the health of the forests. Like applying advanced medical solutions to cure cancer, we need to apply our newest technologies for curing forest disease and catastrophic fires. If it is good for the Ashland Watershed and for the Big Butte Watershed, then it is good also for the Crater Lake and the lower Rogue watersheds.
Collaboration won't help
Susan Jane Brown writes that collaborative land management might have prevented the Malheur standoff (MT Jan. 9), apparently unaware of the fact that just such a collaborative effort was in fact successfully developed by a “broad spectrum of interests, including the local community, conservation organizations, and other government agencies, all working collaboratively together to craft the future direction of the Refuge” (Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan, May 2013).
One of the women who spoke at the Burns public meeting recently made a passionate speech about how hard they worked to develop this plan, and how she feared that the actions of these outsiders could bring their efforts to naught.
The fact that armed militants have taken over refuge headquarters, despite this collaborative effort, shows how a lack of collaboration is not the problem. These are criminals, with an agenda that has nothing to do with collaboration.
The response to these domestic terrorists should not be to pander to them. Failing to prosecute the Bundy family in 2014 just empowered them, and no amount of feel-good collaboration would have been as effective as demonstrating to them that they are indeed subject to the laws of this country.
Gretchen Ousterhout Hunter