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Why smoke gets in your eyes

Rep. Greg Walden claiming that smoke gets in your eyes is the new norm has once again proven to our citizens how his failures snowball exponentially and how quickly he demurs to his standard “I’m working on it, just give me time” response.

How long must we wait? Not only is smoke the old norm, it’s worse than ever and will continue for longer and later into the season. Someday soon you may wake up to a case of lung cancer having never smoked a cigarette in your life. If you like this summer you’ll love the ones to come.

In Medford, barbecue living and the financial pinch from lost forest jobs is crippling our local economy. This is simply unacceptable. If our current representative had any forestry successes over the past 20 years we wouldn’t be where we are.

Jamie McLeod-Skinner claims a representative’s job isn’t to personally prevent wildfires. Unfortunately she might have misread the job application. Our congress meber represents 690,000, people not 330 million. If she wants to change national public policy she might be better suited to take on our senators when they come up for re-election or run in a district less needy. Representation in District 2 not only means representing people; add a couple hundred thousand cows, 150 wolves and seven forests plus 10 laundry lists more and it’s not a part-time job.

She claims “appropriate action” needs to be taken. Could she be more vague? She suggests exploring contributing factors like real climate change to deal with overstocked forests as a solution. How about turning it around and thinning overstocked forests before we consider climate aspects? Other than not being able to count on the weather, anything climate-related is strictly anecdotal. If our issues are climate-related and we can expect drier seasons, then I have bad news, we’ll have to thin forests even more. Claiming “conservation groups” didn’t extend the fire season isn’t really true and the voters know it.

The appropriate action that needs to be taken is multi-layered. As an example of direct action, our congressman needs to get forest leaders on the phone and say why are there work efforts going on in other national forests and not ours, instead of waiting for a meeting in front of a TV camera and berating them in public. A review of SOPA, Schedule of Proposed Actions, for each forest shows the work is there but not being carried out. If they can’t answer or don’t act then we need to initiate a congressional hearing much like the one Walden has proposed for the fall to determine if “smoke is bad.”

Legislatively we need to make sure non-payment of attorney fees are properly enforced via the Equal Access to Justice Act. When it comes to extreme environmentalism the government is much like the house in a game of 21 and the environmentalist is the professional player. He has the advantage and the knowledge to make use of his advantage and how to inflict pain on the taxpayer. Whether a forest grows back in one year or 500 you will always find someone who won’t be happy with the sound of a chainsaw or a paycheck that goes to sawmill employees.

Walden’s solution has been to gut the EAJA and take away the environmentalists’ golden ticket, but the roots of the EAJA lie in civil rights and the ability to recover costs from the government if damaged. His support for the perpetual failure of bills, the Resilient Federal Forests Act, and its goal of skirting the system won’t stand up to judicial review, hence continual failure. His second favorite words, “categorical exclusion,” are limited by project scope, not a long-term solution and ultimately reserve the right of environmental groups to sue after project start or completion. The bottom line is we need to clear up holes in Swiss cheese legislation and meet our opponents on an equal playing field and win!

With true challenges like endangered species conflicts we need to meet them head-on like we do every day in the environmental impact stage and its public review period as part of the standard “scoping to award” process that we have done for the last 50 years. Improving habitat only encourages more wildlife and endangered species that become less endangered.

Lets be honest. Every acre we thin in fall, winter and spring equate to a thousand acres of fire we won’t fight in summer.

Mark Roberts of White City is the nominee of the Independent Party of Oregon for 2nd District U.S. Representative.

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