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A Message From Representative Walden
                                   

Dear Friend,

 

It’s been a rough January in Harney County as Dwight and Steven Hammond went to prison and armed protestors took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. I've been in close contact with local and federal officials throughout this long standoff, and we had all hoped for a peaceful conclusion to the situation in Harney County. Sadly, our hopes were shattered with the shooting that occurred during last night's arrest. While we wait to learn more details and next steps, we must keep the people of Harney County in our hearts as they are a strong community and have endured a great deal. Once again, I urge those who remain at the refuge to go home before anyone else gets hurt. And when this is done and the cameras' glare turns away from rural Oregon, the healing process will be a long one. Widespread frustration will continue until people in rural America feel like they are being heard and meaningful changes are made to federal land management policy. 

 

I want to thank the hundreds of people who have expressed their support of my comments on the House Floor.  I’m doing my best to change the laws that are depressing our rural economy and will continue to speak up for our way of life.  If you’d like to watch my remarks, please click here.

 

On the road again…

 

Last week I participated in 22 meetings, including three town halls, in 10 counties and traveled 1,052 miles throughout the vast 2nd District.

 

What a difference a year makes. Oregon finally has some snow! In fact, on January 1, snowpack was at 138 percent of normal across the state, compared to 53 percent a year ago. Here’s a shot I took on the way from Bend to Medford last week. 

 

I met with health providers in Medford and Grants Pass, and stopped by the Boardman Tree Farm in Morrow County and the new Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center in Hermiston. 

 

Although we’ve handled snow fine in Oregon, it brought Washington, D.C. to a halt (does this surprise you?). 

 

Hearing concerns about new wilderness proposals in the Ochocos, near Crater Lake

 

With the protest occurring at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, federal land management (or mismanagement) has been at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. 

 

In Prineville last week, I held a town hall meeting regarding a proposed 312,000-acre national recreation area—including 26,000 acres of new wilderness—within the Ochoco National Forest. I do not support such a proposal, and neither did most of the 150 people at the meeting. These plans could greatly restrict access to public lands, forcing out people who have camped, snowmobiled and hunted there for generations. Jim Valentine, from the Ochoco Snow Sports Club, told me that the plan would restrict access to Lookout Mountain, a very popular area for local snowmobilers. I also heard concerns about the negative impact on forest management, increasing fire risk for surrounding communities.

 

As the Bend Bulletin put it in their recent editorial, “Meanwhile, a huge new national recreation area, including about 26,000 acres of new wilderness area, with new restrictions and, indeed, a whole new layer of management has little to offer but more bureaucracy and much less use. That’s something one of Oregon’s most economically challenged counties simply does not need. Nor does the forestland itself. Rather, it needs what the Deschutes and other national forests need … well-financed, tender loving care aimed at improving forest health and reducing the danger of catastrophic wildfire.” 

 

I heard similar concerns in Medford at a meeting about a new wilderness proposal at Crater Lake. Many are worried that the proposed 500,000 acres of new wilderness will pose an increased fire risk as well as impact motorized recreation and the local economy. At that meeting, former Jackson County Commissioners Sue Kupillas and C.W. Smith voiced concerns about the increased fire risk from lack of management in the area, and Dave Jordan, president of the Rogue Snowmobilers, worried that the designation would essentially “nullify snowmobiling in Southern Oregon.” 

 

Do you have thoughts on these proposals or any other aspects of how federal lands are managed? I want to hear from you. Send me an email by clicking here

 

Mr. Brown’s government class at Bend Senior High 

 

Last fall, a group of students from Bend Senior High School sent me letters inviting me to visit their Advanced Placement Government class and meet their teacher, Mr. Brown. Meeting with such bright and engaged students in Oregon is always inspiring, so last week, I spent about an hour answering their questions and discussing federal issues ranging from energy and foreign policy to the cost of college tuition and health care. What an impressive class of motivated students! 

 

There are many ways I work hard to educate students about Congress and the democratic progress. For example, traveling to Washington, D.C., whether as part of a school group or on your own, is a great way to show students American democracy up close. If you’re planning a visit, I can help arrange tours and secure tickets to popular attractions. For more information, visit my website here.

 

And my office is always looking for college students to serve as interns in my offices in Washington, D.C., Bend, Medford, and La Grande. These internships are a great way to learn more about the day to day workings of the Congress and gain valuable professional experience. To learn more about my internship program, or to apply, please click here

 

Finally, every year, I have the privilege of nominating students to one of the prestigious United States service academies, including the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. For more information on these nominations, please click here

 

Concern about new water rules in eastern Oregon

 

While in eastern Oregon last week, I toured the Boardman Tree Farm in Morrow County, the new Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center in Hermiston, met with local business owners in Pendleton and The Dalles, and held town halls in Sherman and Gilliam counties. Here’s a photo from I-84 between meetings: 

 

At the town hall in Rufus, someone asked what could be done about the EPA’s new Waters of the United States rule, which would expand federal authority over virtually any water in the nation, including canals, irrigation ditches, vernal pools, and stock ponds.

 

I have long said that this blatant federal overreach would drastically increase uncertainty and threaten jobs and livelihoods in struggling rural communities. The federal Clean Water Act was not written to regulate all these waters. That should be left up to the states and local communities. 

 

Speaker Ryan wrote an op-ed this month detailing some of the real world impacts this new rule has had on farmers nationwide. “These consequences are not hypothetical. Real people have already suffered at the hand of WOTUS. Andy Johnson of Fort Bridger, Wyoming, was fined $37,500 a day by the EPA for building a pond on his land to water his horses, even though he had obtained state permits to do so. John Duarte of rural Tehama County in California was told that he broke the law simply by plowing his land. He was ordered to cease and desist immediately,” Speaker Ryan wrote. 

 

Earlier this month, Congress sent to the President’s desk a resolution to block these rules. I’m disappointed that the President vetoed this resolution, and that there were not enough votes in the House or the Senate to override his veto. While the courts have halted this new rule, at least temporarily, I’ll keep working to take it off the books permanently and curb executive overreach. 

 

Best regards,

 

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative

Oregon’s Second District 

 

 

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