Opinion, Analysis, Discussion
Constitution vs. legislature
Jeff Ackerman’s editorial, “Arizona lawmakers must spend too much time in the sun,” expresses inaccurate constitutional conclusions with condescending overtones.Learn more »
OCF funds help restore pavilion
I was delighted to see the Feb. 27 article on The Lilja Family Fund’s donation to the Douglas County Fairgrounds for the pavilion renovation. This contribution truly honors Don Lilja’s dedication to our community, specifically 4-H and FFA youth who use the facility. Don spent many hours watching their shows and auctions in the livestock pavilion and would be pleased to see these funds used for its much-needed renovation.Learn more »
Larry Ellison probably doesn’t care what Oregon does, or doesn’t do, with its laughingstock of a health insurance exchange.
The founder and CEO of Oracle owns the Hawaiian island of Lanai (98 percent of it) and at last count was America’s third-richest person, with enough money in the bank to tell Oregon to take its health care system and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.Learn more »
Creating congestion and parking problems in downtown Roseburg would be unwise.
That’s why it’s important for the Roseburg City Council on Monday night to order a traffic analysis for parts of downtown Roseburg.Learn more »
Be proactive in our world
Thank you for the Feb. 21 edition of The News-Review; it was one of the best ever! What I appreciated most were the two letters in the Public Forum. It would serve Douglas County and Oregon well if everyone would take heed and read them.Learn more »
Fix the railroad crossing delays
Everyone was happy and relieved when the railroad yard moved to Wilbur. With pubic funds, problem solved. Wrong!Learn more »
After any major wildfire, such as last year’s 48,679-acre Douglas Complex, post-fire recovery efforts must occur to reduce the likelihood of future disastrous fires again in the same area.
Implementing strategic post-fire actions reduces future risk to firefighters, homeowners, and ultimately the forest. Our forests are important to all of us, providing clean air and water, wildlife, recreation and important jobs. While there is always a potential for wildfires, the risk of fire occurrence and fire severity increases substantially if post-fire recovery efforts are not completed timely.Learn more »
The latest blow struck by two conservation groups against Sen. Ron Wyden’s California & Oregon Railroad trust lands bill was probably the lowest, too.Learn more »
Misinterpreted job projections
Fox News and the Republicans are spreading lies about Obamacare again. Recently a Congressional Budget Office report projected that 2.3 million people will leave the workforce during the next 10 years because of Obamacare. Fox News and Republicans immediately proclaimed that Obamacare is going to kill 2.3 million jobs!Learn more »
Groceries were gift from others
On Jan. 7, we were having our groceries checked out when our checker (I think he was a floor manager) excused himself for a moment. When he came back, he had a big grin. We saw a lady and a young man in a U.S. Army camouflage uniform come up behind us.Learn more »
City needs more common sense
I’ve never heard of back-in parking. It sounds idiotic. Spending money to make downtown traffic flow even more poorly designed and provide potential shoppers with a parking challenge as well seems wasteful.Learn more »
Roseburg’s handling of transportation fees demonstrated the hazards of ignoring an 800-pound gorilla.
Eventually, the gorilla breaks loose, forcing quick rather than deliberative decisions.Learn more »
ICU bed count study needed
I think Roseburg is becoming the national battleground for the question, “What is this country going to do with veterans from communities where the Veteran’s Administration’s Intensive Care Unit is eliminated?” The Roseburg VA ICU not only serviced local vets but was the ICU for many vets throughout Southern Oregon.Learn more »
Voters decide without fuss
Jeff Ackerman’s recent “Publisher’s Notebook” about term limits not being needed for Douglas County Commissioners caused me to review my distant past support of term limits.Learn more »
Service always appreciated
Our son is a career military officer and it is amazing the number of people who stop him and thank him for the job he is doing. These thoughts are greatly appreciated by our servicemen, but it caused me to remember the other unsung individuals who are not always shown the appreciation they deserve. I am thinking of the fire, law enforcement and utility employees.Learn more »
What happened to this Marine?
Almost a year and a half ago, my dear brother-in-law, Royce Cratty, went for a walk in the woods near his home outside Sutherlin. That was the last time his family saw or heard from him. A short search was called off, for many reasons that made no sense to me.Learn more »
Election signs: use restraint
I realize that the words “restraint” and “politician” rarely appear in the same sentence in these contentious times. However, I would urge our local politicians to consider making that a thing of the past, at least in the matter of campaign signs.Learn more »
There are three or four months each year when the average daily temperature in Phoenix soars above 100 degrees.
On a June day in 1990, a record 122 degrees was recorded in that sprawling desert city.Learn more »
Anytime the public’s money is spent, there needs to be heavy scrutiny to ensure the funds are being used wisely.
When the director of The Partnership for Economic Development in Douglas County gave his yearly update to the Roseburg City Council last week, he discovered it was his turn to be scrutinized.Learn more »
Smith has the skills we need
As a young officer, I looked to the older, more experienced officers for professional guidance. As my career progressed into administration and subsequent command of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, I recognized the need to focus back to those starting their careers and moving up the ladder. Times change, and change creates conflict. Solving those conflicts meant working as a team. Finding that leadership team was not always an easy task.Learn more »
Guest column: Why not contract for highly skilled ICU nurses and doctors at the VA?February 28, 2014 —
In 2009, the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s intensive care unit was closed due to underutilization, not enough doctors, etc.
Before that, this facility began reducing the level of medical services, sending patients to the Portland VA hospital for more complex procedures, bringing the status of this facility from a Level II full-service hospital to a Level III giant clinic.
The VA commissioned a report from the firm of Booz, Allen and Hamilton. That report came out in 2010, recommending the continued closure of our ICU, citing the reasons listed above primarily.
Veterans’ meetings and public forums were packed with angry veterans wondering why. They were not buying the reasons behind the ICU closure. We began picketing the facility’s entrances. We received endorsements from all levels of political leadership. Roseburg’s City Council made a resolution demanding the ICU be reopened. We were also supported by the Douglas County commissioners, the state Legislature, Congressman Peter DeFazio and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.
Recently, the VA’s chief of staff and the director reiterated their position about keeping the ICU closed. It must be noted that these decisions were not made by them, but at the Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs).
VISNs are regional VA areas across the country that make decisions on what to do with the federal VA funds. The VISNs are often at odds with one another, meaning that veterans get better care in some VISNs than in other VISNs. Ours is VISN 20, covering the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California. The previous head of VISN 20 made the decision to close the ICU. There used to be veterans’ councils working with VISN 20 to advise them on what was needed, but the previous VISN director disbanded them.
Let’s look at some of the reasons given for closing the ICU:
1. Usage of area medical facilities that are non-VA. I asked our chief of staff what I should do in a life-threatening situation (heart attack, car accident, etc.). He told me that our VA is NOT able to provide for such emergency treatment. Got that?
2. Another factor overlooked in all of this is the expenses incurred by the veterans who have to use non-VA hospitals for emergency treatment. Many veterans believe that the VA will reimburse them for such expenses, but the VA must be told about such non-VA treatment within 72 hours if payment is to be made. Even then, I hear of veterans being stuck with medical bills in the thousands of dollars. Also, if in such an emergency you tell the emergency medical technicians/paramedics giving you that ambulance ride that you do not want the VA treating you — even knowing they can’t — you are completely on your own. The VA will not reimburse you (I hope you have other insurance, as well). We had a guest speaker at our last Vietnam Veterans of America meeting who laid this all out to us. If by chance they do pay, it may take many months, maybe longer. So I think that VA reimbursement is at best uncertain.
3. Their next big reason for closing the ICU was that it wasn’t being used enough. The Roseburg VA’s chief of staff used this to raise safety concerns: ICUs with fewer patients are less safe than ICUs with more patients (?). Fewer services means fewer patients using the ICU, thus its closure. Another consideration might be this: The new dental facility on the VA campus is almost finished. It looks really neat on the outside, but I and others will never see the inside of it. A veteran must have a 100 percent service-connected disability rating to be eligible for dental care, thus fewer patients will be there on any given day. How is this for “underutilization?” The cost: millions, and again, allocated by VISN 20. The Roseburg facility couldn’t use these funds for anything else. Don’t get me wrong, veterans with full service-connected disabilities are fully entitled and deserving of all benefits, but shouldn’t all veterans be provided dental care as well?
4. Having surrounding medical facilities is a good thing. Why should a veteran with cancer have to go all the way to Portland, when one of the country’s finest nonprofit cancer centers is right here in Roseburg? The VA picks and chooses what treatments provided by non-VA care providers will be paid for by the VA or by the veteran.
5. The VA regards the ICU issue as “beating a dead horse” and the subject is closed. Shouldn’t the ICU be reopened? Not just for us, but for the thousands of future veterans.
Here are some examples of how this could work. They have for other hospitals and clinics.
1. Contract for ICU personnel. The contracting firm can ensure the doctors and nurses keep their skill levels up.
2. Have an agreement to exchange VA ICU personnel with Mercy Medical Center, on a rotation bases.
Robert O’Brien of Sutherlin is chairman of the board of Vietnam Veterans of America, Umpqua chapter 805. He also belongs to the Douglas County Veterans Forum and the Sutherlin Veterans of Foreign Wars post. He served in the Navy aboard the USS Enterprise in Vietnam’s Tonkin Gulf during 1972 and 1973. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest column: Community immunity — let’s get it!February 28, 2014 —
An important law that goes into effect March 1 will make it more difficult for Oregon parents to enroll unvaccinated children in school and child care centers.
In the past, if parents chose not to immunize their child, they simply had to sign a piece of paper acknowledging that they were exempting their child from one or all of the vaccines required.
Now, the law requires “a written statement of nonmedical exemption signed by the parent, including documentation of completion of a vaccine educational module (video) approved by the Public Health Division or signature of a health care practitioner verifying that the risks and benefits of immunizations have been discussed with the parent.”
So let’s have that discussion.
As a pediatrician, I hope I can help all vaccine-hesitant parents feel comfortable and confident about choosing to fully immunize their children by addressing any concerns or misinformation they may have about vaccines.
The reality is this: Vaccines are safe, effective and one of the best ways we can protect our children and loved ones from horrible diseases. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, such as polio, have been eliminated and others are close to extinction — primarily due to vaccines.
Too many Oregon children are missing the full protection from immunization. In fact, our state has the nation’s highest rate of kindergartners with non-medical school vaccine exemptions. And the rate has doubled in the last decade.
This trend worries me. I’m concerned about the health of our state’s unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children and re-emergence of serious, vaccine-preventable diseases in our communities. I am old enough to remember the days when measles and meningitis were around. Both were terrible diseases that we know will come back if we stop vaccinating.
In 33 years of practice as a pediatrician, I have seen vaccines save countless lives and have never seen a serious, long-lasting side effect. I have fully vaccinated my own children, and now, my grandchildren. I do this to protect them, and the entire community.
While the typical exemption rate for kindergarteners across the U.S. for the 2011-12 school year was about 1.2 percent, Oregon’s rate climbed from 5.8 percent in 2012 to 6.4 percent in 2013.
In Douglas County, our exemption rate in 2013 was slightly more than 6 percent; some counties in our state have higher exemption rates than others, but every county can improve. The higher the exemption rate, the greater chance for an outbreak.
As a result, some of the most contagious diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, are making a comeback. Just this month, an alert went out in Northern California when a person with measles rode the train, possibly exposing thousands of commuters — and by extension, their families — to the virus. Whooping cough clusters are increasingly common across the country, as well. Make no mistake — these are nasty, life-threatening diseases.
The good news is we can reverse this trend by achieving community immunity — the more people we immunize, the more difficult it is for viruses or bacteria to spread. A well-immunized community also protects children and others who cannot be immunized due to age or medical condition.
Unfortunately, some babies are too young to be completely vaccinated and some people may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons.
Immunizations save lives. They protect us from 14 potentially serious diseases. To prevent these diseases, a 94 percent immunization rate is required to achieve community immunity.
So let’s talk about vaccines. And let’s get community immunity.
Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer is a Roseburg pediatrician, past president of the Oregon Medical Association and chief executive officer of the Architrave Family of Companies. He can be reached at email@example.com or 541-672-3585.
Editorial: Roses & thornsFebruary 28, 2014 —
The new Douglas County veterans service officer is off to a great start, despite having to follow the overwhelming success of his predecessor, Mary Newman.
Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Jim Fitzpatrick learned during his first week on the job that his office was chosen for a $50,000 grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.
The money will be used to hire a fourth employee to help the office reach out to more veterans.
Douglas County was fortunate to find Fitzpatrick already living in Roseburg and working on veterans’ issues on college campuses. We found it interesting that he is one of many veterans who moved here to be close to the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He also worked as a patient advocate at the hospital.
With Newman’s record of substantially increasing the dollar value of veterans’ benefits entering the county, it seemed unlikely we’d find someone who could pick up where she left off and keep the momentum going.
Yet it appears this former navigator with a 20-year military career sounds like he’s going to do just that.
Next time, use the rearview mirror
There was a reminder this week how harrowing police work can be.
Douglas County sheriff’s Deputy Ken Berry was looking for speeders Monday afternoon near Winchester Elementary School when he tried to stop a two-door 1993 Lincoln.
The car didn’t stop, and the chase was on.
The fleeing driver went east on Page Road and continued onto Elmar Drive. As Berry rounded a corner, he saw the driver — still speeding, but this time in reverse.
Berry stopped, but the driver rammed the patrol car. The driver then went up a driveway and got stuck trying to turn around.
The patrol car was damaged, but Berry was uninjured and arrested the driver. A good ending to a bad situation.
War of the words
By now most News-Review readers know the Battle of the Books is not as violent as it sounds. Instead of “War and Peace” body-slamming “Gone With the Wind,” rather than two rows of librarians hiding behind shelves while they lob paperbacks at each other, the Battle of the Books challenges lovers of the printed page to exercise their brains.
Douglas County students were among the 240 children and teens taking part Saturday in the trivia quizzes at Roseburg High School. Teams answered questions culled from a list of books they’d been provided earlier, all hoping to advance from the regional contest to the state finals set for April at Salem’s Chemeketa Community College.
Organizers say the bookish battle makes every participating kid a winner by prompting him or her to read something that might otherwise have gone unexplored by the young reader. It’s also noteworthy as the concluding event for the Celebration of Literacy. The latter is a two-week series of events aimed at motivating area residents to read, write and relish the printed page.
We’re all for enticing people of all ages to boost their lives by entering the educational and entertaining realm of books. And that’s no fiction.
Letter: A new take on the environment and global warmingFebruary 27, 2014 —
On Congress and salvage
The Bureau of Land Management is considering salvage. It won’t. Even if it wanted to, it can’t. Congress insists upon a drawn-out legal (not environmental) process, which insures the snags will deteriorate to the point where they can’t be economically removed.
I think Congress believes salvage is bad for the environment. Its members know snags are one of the top three cripplers and killers of firefighters every year. When firefighters are killed, they quit breathing and when they quit breathing, they quit producing carbon dioxide (except for the decomposition process) and that reduces global warming. It’s the only logical explanation for leaving hundreds of thousands of snags across the landscape. Between the snags, ObamaCare and our highly successful Middle East policy, our government must believe producing dead people is good for the environment.
Snags are often the tallest objects left on the landscape after a fire, so they get hit by lightning. The snags ignite easily and burn hot. It’s a simple enough concept that even Congressmen understand, occasionally. If a snag is still standing as it burns, it can produce embers that can start more fires. When snags burn through, they fall and roll, which spreads fire, and even kills firefighters, which must be why the snags were left.
We should be thankful because it leaves more oxygen for the rest of us. You see, if it weren’t for Congressional requirements, we might all find ourselves short of breath and neck-deep in firefighters.
If the Canyonville/Glendale fire only created 10 snags per acre and it burned 20,000 acres, that’s 200,000 opportunities to reduce the number of firefighters and increase our oxygen supply. Why Congress even allows BLM to consider salvage is beyond me.
Guest column: Why veterans need an ICU at the Roseburg VAFebruary 27, 2014 —
My husband and I are among the stakeholders of the Veterans Affairs Roseburg Healthcare System. Full disclosure: I am a disabled veteran and retired VA employee married to a 100 percent disabled veteran who receives his care at the VARHS. Recent events caught our attention.
During a press conference held by the VARHS, Director Carol Bogedain explained the decision to close the intensive care unit was made before she or Chief of Staff Chip Taylor came to Roseburg. True. Neither of them had any part in making that decision. Unfortunately, they have been placed in the position of having to support prior decisions made by the VISN (the regional office) and the VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. They have my sympathy. This might explain why Bogedain is taking the push by local veterans for an ICU so personally. It is not meant to be personal. We are aware of when the decisions were made and by whom.
We are also aware that when the decisions were made, the ICU census was low because patients were being diverted to Mercy Medical Center or other hospitals. There were broken beds in the ICU and inpatient ward. They lacked staff to tend to patients in workable beds. Without staff and beds, they couldn’t accept patients. The staff wasn’t replaced and the beds couldn’t be fixed or replaced due to budget shortfalls. Current and former employees can verify this. It appears that neither the VISN nor Central Office was or is willing to look into this.
Taylor has tried to prove to veterans it isn’t safe for them to have an ICU at this facility. We all know statistics can be made to show just about anything. Taylor provided studies that show ICUs that care for more patients have better outcomes.
Taylor also spoke of the importance of having skilled medical staff in an ICU. No one argues with that, but it is directly related to why veterans want an ICU at the VA facility. Veterans believe that VA medical personnel have a better understanding of and more experience with unique ailments of veterans, especially post-traumatic stress disorder. Latest findings indicate a high percentage of veterans, male and female, suffer from PTSD. Symptoms get worse in stressful situations and a veteran in need of ICU care is under stress.
Bogedain and Taylor insist that closing the ICU isn’t about money. They are wrong. It is about money. Bogedain, with her years of service in the VA, should understand this. Perhaps Taylor, who is new to the VA, doesn’t nor does the general public. I will attempt a simple explanation.
Many veterans cannot obtain health care services from the VA. The VA classifies veterans into about eight categories. To reduce the budget, the VA restricted eligible veterans to the top few categories comprising basically two groups of veterans: those who fall below the Housing and Urban Development poverty level for the area and those with service-connected disabilities.
Within those two groups are those with no insurance, some with insurance and those with varying levels of service-connected disabilities. Most of these will have co-pays for services and/or medication except for treatment for service-connected disabilities.
Those with a 60 percent or higher disability rating receive most services and medication at no cost. The co-pays are generally less than those charged by Medicare, especially for medications. When a veteran has to utilize ICU or inpatient services at a VA hospital, it is less expensive or at no cost. When a veteran has to go to a civilian hospital, the VA does not always pay the bill and when it is paid, it is often only after the patient has received threatening billing from the civilian hospital.
But that brings up another problem. Because of its classification Mercy can only bill Medicare/Medicaid a standard amount that is usually less than what it actually costs to provide care for a patient. That’s bad enough, but the VA reimbursement rate is about 75 percent of what Medicare/Medicaid allows. I suspect that’s why Mercy hasn’t jumped up with glee and only accepts VA patients according to the “availability of resources.”
Bogedain maintains that the Douglas County Veteran Forum is being stubborn and unreasonable. Perhaps she doesn’t understand that the forum is a unified effort of all veterans in the VARHS service area. From this side of the coin, it appears that the VA is being equally stubborn. Several suggestions have been given to the VA that might alleviate the ICU problem, but the VA appears to disregard all of them.
Simone Becker of Roseburg retired in 2009 after working for various federal agencies for 26 years, the last 10 at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her last position was secretary to the associate director. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letter: Kanipe Park volunteers forge agreement with Douglas County CommissionersFebruary 26, 2014 —
I wish to express my gratitude to the Douglas County Commissioners for agreeing to let the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park Association have the opportunity to raise $65,000 toward building an equestrian and a non-equestrian campground at the park. It is hoped that camping opportunities will bring in badly needed income to help pay the operating expenses of the park.
If the required amount is not raised, the county will go ahead with its plan to clear-cut 20 acres of forest on the far north edge of the park.
Many fundraising events have been planned by local interest groups who value and enjoy the park. An atmosphere of community togetherness and cooperation has been fostered by the county’s offer to work together. We are hopeful that this is the beginning of a relationship that will benefit us all in the future. (Perhaps we can set an example for Washington, D.C.?)
Oregon has many horse camps, but none in our area. Equestrians who enjoy camping with their horses will be eager to come and enjoy our beautiful park with its lovely trails and beautiful views.
People without horses enjoy camping as well and there are many things at the park for them to enjoy.
Restoration of the English Settlement School is going well and a new roof is scheduled as soon as the weather settles down. Ground-penetrating radar will be searching for pioneer grave sites this spring. Also underway is restoration of the heritage orchard with the varieties listed on the orchard diagram made by Mildred Kanipe. Some that were previously thought to be extinct have been found for this project.
Thanks to everyone who is working on all of this.
Letter: Don’t be railroaded into providing a grant without requiring bypass measuresFebruary 26, 2014 —
CORP misleads the public
I very much appreciate The News-Review publicizing the problems with Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad blocking the crossings on Highway 99 and North Bank Road in Wilbur. I live off North Bank Road and have many times been significantly delayed by CORP’s switching operations blocking the crossings for periods up to 30 minutes.
CORP’s representative, Patrick Kerr, stated in a Feb. 9 article in The News-Review that blocked drivers can call a number posted at the crossings. Calling this number was also mentioned in The News-Review editorial on Feb. 16. There is no number posted at the North Bank Road crossing. There is no number visible traveling south on Highway 99 if a train is crossing. The only phone number is on an electrical enclosure on the south side of the tracks, visible by looking back along the tracks from the south side of the crossing. This number is 1-800-344-8261. It was very disingenuous for Patrick Kerr to claim that no one has complained by calling this number. Basically, if there is an emergency on North Bank Road, there is no posted number to call.
CORP built its switchyard with a big public grant and it is requesting more public money for an expansion. This expansion must include mitigation measures, such as a bypass, to reduce the inconvenience and risk to the public of their operations. I feel CORP has been very misleading in the discussion of the impact of its operations on the public.
Letter: Vote Freeman for Douglas County CommissionerFebruary 26, 2014 —
Freeman shows leadership skill
As a retired Oakland High School teacher, I have known Tim Freeman for 30-odd years and I am supporting him for Douglas County Commissioner.
I coached Tim for a couple years of high school football. Tim was a natural leader and voted team captain. I could tell even back then that he was very good at representing those who had elected him.
Tim has continued to be a leader throughout his life, as a member of countless civic groups, on the Roseburg City Council and now as State Representative. He is honest, straightforward, will speak his mind and do what is best for the most people.
We need a hard-working, experienced leader like Tim on the Douglas County Commission. Please join me in casting your vote for Tim Freeman.
Mark S. Wilson
Guest column: Science behind O&C forest legislation encouragingFebruary 26, 2014 —
When Sen. Ron Wyden unveiled his proposed legislation to manage Oregon’s 2.1 million acres of O&C land, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers of Oregon was encouraged.
Our conservation organization seeks to protect wild public land, water and wildlife, and BHA was asked by Sen. Wyden’s office to help identify areas of critical wildlife habitat for conservation protection. We are encouraged that many of our suggestions were included in the proposed legislation.
In addition, BHA believes that public lands should remain public, which this legislation stipulates.
While the bill would increase timber harvests, it also sets aside nearly half the acreage into conservation zones creating new backcountry areas and wilderness.
For anglers and the nearly 2 million people who depend on clean water, the legislation continues strong riparian watershed protection and for the first time in legislative history protects old-growth trees from harvest.
Protection of healthy public land and water is key to a robust recreation industry, which in Oregon translates into 141,000 jobs and generates nearly $13 billion in consumer spending from hikers, hunters, skiers, anglers, birdwatchers, mountain bikers and others, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
But this legislation also provides for ecologically sustainable timber harvest where appropriate. Unlike dry forests where wildfire often creates a mosaic of openings that produce diverse plants — including diversity in age and species of trees — moist forests such as those found on O&C land in Western Oregon achieved diversity through timber harvest during recent modern history.
Nobody wants to return to the cut-and-run days of old-fashioned logging, but BHA does support sustainable timber harvest that will also provide a more diverse forage base for elk and deer. According to professors Norm Johnson of Oregon State University and Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington, both of whom helped craft Wyden’s proposed legislation, much of the O&C land today has a closed canopy where little sunlight reaches the forest floor.
This tight canopy has led to a reduction in forage for game, often forcing elk and deer onto managed private forestry property.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife closely monitors game populations in Western Oregon. While elk populations have remained stagnant, blacktail deer populations have declined significantly for more than 30 years. Some of this decline is due to predation, disease and other factors, but ODFW acknowledges it’s also due to a lack of forage for big game. Quoting from the 2008 Oregon blacktail deer management plan, “Changes in habitat availability and quality have contributed to declining populations since the early 1980s.
Habitat changes include both quantity of early seral habitat (particularly on federal lands where mature timber stands still have deer, but at reduced numbers), and quality influenced by changing reforestation management practices.”
In an interview with BHA, OSU’s Johnson asserts that variable retention timber harvesting will help restore a balanced succession of plant species, including variable aged trees, which will benefit elk and deer on public lands over time.
But forage for elk and deer is only one aspect of sustainable timber harvest. Protecting water quality and fisheries is critical, and scientific management of the landscape surrounding rivers and streams must be assured as well. According to conservationist Greg Block at the Wild Salmon Center, the Wyden bill establishes “permanent riparian protections for the first time for this type of large landscape and makes permanent key features of the Northwest Forest Plan aquatic protections.”
Bill Kremers, president of the Northwest Steelhead Association agrees that riparian protections are critical and says the bill is “more than just a timber harvest bill.” Kremers continues, “I think this is a good bill because it protects our streams. Protecting the riparian along these streams is critical to our native fish.” Both men were interviewed by BHA.
No legislation is ever perfect, however, so Backcountry Hunters & Anglers will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves through Congress.
But BHA is encouraged by the rational, scientific approach to balanced management of these public lands and waters.
The Northwest Forest Plan was a good attempt to manage them, but current science demands that management plans be reviewed and updated. Wyden’s O&C legislation does that.
Brian Jennings is sportsmen’s outreach coordinator for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. He can be reached at email@example.com. Ed Putnam is co-chair of BHA for Oregon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The website for the organization is www.backcountryhunters.org.
Letter: Know the facts about governmentFebruary 25, 2014 —
Historical look at exec. orders
I have some sage advice for those decrying the issuance of executive orders: Do not take opinions from unreliable sources. Also, engage brain before putting mouth in gear. In other words, know what you are talking about.
In point of actual fact, executive orders are what makes the executive branch of government work. The most famous executive order was the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in the South. Executive orders apply only to the executive branch of government, and are subject to court review.
The right likes to forget that Mr. Obama was a constitutional law professor, whereas the right depends on Hannity and Limbaugh for its opinions. If we were that impeachment happy, we should have impeached Ronald Reagan for supplying illegal arms to the Contras, or George W. Bush for keeping the wars he started off the books, so we couldn’t know what they cost us. In other words, the important stuff. I urge the spokespeople for the right to be more careful with facts.