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Other Views: A tale of two Oregons

Excerpted from The (La Grande) Observer

Oregon is a big, diversified state. In a sense, two distinct cultures exist side-by-side, and that can create a gulf between perception and understanding.

Sometimes it can appear that the needs and values of the eastern side of the state are lost in the bustling white noise of the Willamette Valley. It is true, at least at first glance, that the eastern portion of our state has little in common with portions of Western Oregon.

So while the natural resources tour that cruised through Eastern Oregon last month may not secure blaring headlines, the effort should be lauded.

Five state legislators joined area lawmakers in an excursion in the Columbia Basin and Wallowa County. Such efforts are not only good for lawmakers from the western side of the state but also a good thing for Eastern Oregon.

Lawmakers with little knowledge of our great piece of this state and what makes our economies run should be allowed every opportunity to get to know the area. That way, when decisions are reached in Salem, lawmakers from the western side of the state can make better informed judgments about future impacts in areas like Wallowa County.

Events such as the natural resources tour should be annual exercises and should also include other counties. Whether we want to accept it or not, Eastern Oregon depends on Western Oregon. Yet the only way to create a seamless future mechanism of prosperity is through mutual understanding and knowledge.