“O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee…”
We all know the words, and we all love the sentiment in this old folk song. Our kids and grandkids probably sing this song in school plays, much as we did at their age. But even as we sing these cherished words, the beauty they represent is slipping away.
Ludwig von Mises, in his preface to Bureaucracy, writes: ”The main issue in present-day social and political conflicts is whether or not man should give away freedom, private initiative, and individual responsibility and surrender to the guardianship of a gigantic apparatus of compulsion and coercion, the socialist state. Should authoritarian totalitarianism be substituted for individualism and democracy?”
As most Oregonians know, Klamath County (indeed, most of the 2nd District) is in a season of severe drought. Add to this politically motivated backroom deals, and a radical environmentalist agenda with lots of out-of-state clout and capital, and this is a scary situation for rural Oregon.
The problem is simple - we have limited fresh water. Animals and people alike need fresh water for survival, and droughts are part of Earth's natural cycle. Therefore, we should prepare for such eventualities with dams, reservoirs and other water storage facilities, and we should share the water between all interested parties, not use the strong arm of government to pick politically-correct winners and losers.
Last year, before I was in this Congressional race, I gave a presentation on this topic to the Jackson County Americans for Prosperity group:
Last week, The Baker City Herald editorial staff wrote, “Rep. Greg Walden has gotten right to the heart of the debate over managing national forest and he only needed to write a four-page bill to do it.”
However, it’s time for a reality check, because although I applaud his effort, it seems clear that Walden only threw this piece of legislative silliness onto the House floor 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 endless letters to Walden’s office and their local papers, along with their attempts at “public comment” debacles.
Do you really believe that Representative 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?
When so-called public servants suggest the increase of Federal land management, it's usually sold to us as a great resource for our communities. We're told that we'll get wide open spaces to hunt, fish, hike, access with OHVs and use for countless other pursuits.
Unfortunately, all too often, once the government gets control of our land, it becomes closed to one or more of these activities. They close forest roads under the guise of "environmental protection", ignoring the fact that keeping these roads clear aids firefighters in the summer fire season. The bureaucrats insist that they know better than we do how to enjoy our wild places, and so they padlock the woods and force us out of land that should rightfully belong to the local community.
More and more forests in Oregon are being closed to OHV traffic, and our current Congressman seems content with making empty statements and meaningless votes. For those of us who love our open places, this is a serious issue, one that is worth fighting for. We will not be content with empty rhetoric - if we aren't willing to stand up, our kids will never know the freedom of Oregon's mountains and forests.
As I’ve shared many times, I own a small cattle ranch east of Klamath Falls, and the health and sustainability of rural livelihoods is a very important issue to me. The issues I want to address require serious reform, not small, impotent acts. We need to be willing to stand up for our way of life and the inheritance we want to leave future generations of cattlemen and agriculturalists. The time to address these concerns is now, with firmness, confidence and hope.
Rural Oregonians are demanding change on these five issues, and I stand with you:
1. The Massive Overreach of the EPA
Rural counties in Oregon are struggling to maintain sensible budgets, a reasonable standard of living and viable livelihoods for their citizens - and the Environmental Protection Agency seems bent on making those goals almost impossible. With endless resources, a bully pulpit and an agenda that focuses on good optics rather than sensible policy, the EPA is a dangerously out-of-control force in rural America. As concerned cattlemen and citizens, we need to demand oversight of the EPA and a representative that sees its bureaucratic overreach for what it is - a criminal abuse of power and a force that could easily rob us of our agricultural legacies and freedoms.
Professionals in our timber industries are the best-equipped stewards of our forests. However, in Oregon, more than 50% of the state is owned by the Federal government, so this means that private industry, state and local governments have ultimately no control over most of Oregon’s resource-rich landscapes. As a county commissioner I regularly see the tragic results from ill-conceived federal policies and the high costs of unintended consequences.
In Klamath County, and throughout the 2nd District, we find ourselves begging for favors from the Federal government instead of being allowed to create jobs, build communities and see prosperity flourish at the local level. The political establishment prefers rewarding national or regional special interest groups rather than local communities because that creates a culture of power, money and control for themselves. Federal control and regulation diminishes the effectiveness of those most likely to steward natural resources well (loggers, miners, ranchers, etc.).