Governor addresses local issues
H&N photo by Ty Beaver Gov. Ted
Kulongoski talks about the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement in
his Salem office Thursday. The governor discussed issues impacting
the Klamath Basin.
Kulongoski speaks about water, timber,
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 6/6/09
SALEM — Water. Timber. The economy.
During an interview with the Herald and News Thursday, Oregon Gov.
Ted Kulongoski spoke about issues impacting the Klamath Basin: the
Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, timberlands devastated by a
pine beetle infestation and jobs in an economic downturn.
Are you concerned about the continuing opposition to the Klamath
Basin Restoration Agreement? Do you think it will slow or derail
Kulongoski said he thinks most people in the Basin want a
conclusion to the conflicts over water resources for farmers,
fishermen, tribes and conservationists. The status quo can’t
But the governor said even if there is a final restoration
agreement that is signed and implemented, there will always be
opposition and differences of opinion. He said that the real
conflict is between people wanting everything to stay the same and
those willing to accept change.
“I don’t think a final agreement will mean consensus in the
Basin,” he said.
He is confident state legislation allowing Portland-based
PacifiCorp to raise its Oregon customers’ power bills by about
$1.50 per month will receive final approval from the House before
reaching his desk.
Fire season has officially begun. Klamath and Lake counties are
still contending with the potential of a very damaging fire on
federal lands, fueled by timber killed by a pine beetle
infestation. What is the state doing to address the situation?
The governor, a fishing enthusiast familiar with Deadhorse Lake in
the Gearhart Wilderness area, has visited areas impacted by the
infestation. He said he understands the potential for disaster in
the region, should lightning start a forest fire.
The state rejected an earlier request from Klamath County
commissioners to declare an emergency for the area — not because
it isn’t possible but because it didn’t meet the standards for
The state is attempting to partner with the federal government on
managing those forests and mitigating the danger. Oregon was the
first state to partner with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in
such a way and Kulongoski said he’s also spoken with U.S.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about it, as well as private
“This is not an infestation on just federal land,” he said.
You announced, during a speech in Portland several weeks ago, a
proposal to create a jobs program similar to the Civilian
Conservation Corps of the Great Depression era to put some
Oregonians back to work. What other details do you have on that
and how would it impact Klamath County?
Kulongoski said he initially conceived using $90 million to create
up to 12,000 jobs, such as brush clearing and working for food
banks, for the next three to six months.
However, he said, state legislators have raised legitimate
concerns, such as waiting to see whether the federal government
extends unemployment benefits that are set to expire in September.
An extension could determine whether some money could be held over
for jobs in 2010.
There also have been questions about helping the unemployed
advance their job training so they’ll be better positioned when
the economy recovers.
The governor couldn’t say how many jobs would come to Klamath
County but his office has said there’d be a push for the majority
to go to the worst hit counties.
Kulongoski said the jobs would be created through local
governments, nonprofits and even churches so people are doing a
job that provides a needed public service.
“A job is a paycheck, but it’s also a human dignity issue,” he