Walden's record is one of balance
As sure as mushrooms popping up after a warm spring rain, here they come: the eco-proponents of locking up 500,000 acres from multiple use, principally outside the Crater Lake National Park boundary.
They start up a murky, touch-on-every-subject smear, but no details on Rep. Greg Walden's bipartisan congressional agreements. If something was unethical, believe me, the Mail Tribune and Portland newspapers would be all over it on the front page. So let's talk about recent distorted mudslinging toward Congressman Walden. Here are the facts of what happened, and hard work to boot:
HR 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act — this is legislation that implements several policy reforms to improve federal forest management. Despite what is suggested in a recent Mail Tribune guest opinon criticizing Walden, the legislation actually gives more tools to “collaborative” and Resource Advisory Committees (RACs) to make them more effective. They get streamlined planning processes that are faster and cheaper to allow the Forest Service to implement more collaborative and RAC projects.
It also encourages and rewards participation in collaboratives by preventing participants from picking up their marbles, leaving and suing when they don’t get their way, since litigation on those projects requires posting a bond. Collaboration is hard work, and it’s hard to be effective at that when groups leave and pull the rug out from underneath the others who put in the effort to participate.
It also furthers RACs' effectiveness by allowing revenue generated from RAC projects to help fund future RAC projects
The O&C Trust Act — This is actually bipartisan legislation developed by Walden and Reps. Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader two years ago and was not reintroduced for this Congress. That said, the land placed in trust is still in federal ownership and federally managed. It is just managed under the prescriptive Oregon Forest Practices Act, which includes a lot of protections like stream buffers, limitations on clearcuts and replanting requirements. Rather than being managed for timber companies, the trust simply requires management to generate revenue for the local counties to fund essential basic services like law enforcement, roads and schools.
Klamath legislation — Walden’s draft legislation implementing the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreements, which are the water agreements reached by many parties in Klamath County. The legislation includes language transferring 100,000 acres of federal forest land each to Klamath County and Siskiyou County, Calif., for forest management by the counties, to grow jobs and improve forest health in their communities. The legislation also transfers about 100,000 acres of federal forest to the Klamath tribes for timber production and economic development uses. A bill sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley also includes this same transfer to the tribes, but it seems that fact is conveniently overlooked by many opposed to Walden’s efforts to improve federal forest management
Meanwhile back at the ranch (Southern Oregon and Crater Lake), locking up the forest to multiple use and destroying businesses that rely on a variety of summer and winter visitors, such as Diamond Lake Resort, is the height of eco-selfishness. This let it burn (and re-burn) policy in the wilderness with access restrictions that go hand-in-hand is a sure prescription for future wilderness areas named "Ash Meadow" and "Moonscape Forest." Walden has been in office, treating us equally and fairly, since 1999. His approach to multiple use, job outlook and protection of our public lands is commendable and balanced.
You think you can do better? Run for office and let's see how the ballots tally up! Could you keep 100 percent of the people in your district happy? We have a good thing at present. Want to visit Crater Lake? You are good to go, since it is a protected National Park. Want to snowmobile in the winter? No problem. Want to ride your Jeep or motorbike? Exploration on the logging and firefighting roads is allowed also. Care to mountain bike? Roger on that also! Want to get away and just hike? We already have plenty of wilderness areas and Oregon is already one of the top five wilderness states in the nation.
Wilderness equals hiking only. If you have age problems, restricted time or physical disabilities, that's not our eco-problem; stay home.
Rocky Reeser of Medford is a Forest Service trail maintenance volunteer crew leader and trail motorcycle rider who has been a recipient of a small RAC grant for tools for trail work.