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Oregon U.S. Congressman Greg Walden Newsletter


First things first: Quack quack. Next up: Arizona at home the day after Thanksgiving. Go Ducks!  And for the Beaver Believers out there, time to bounce back after last week with another USC upset in Corvallis.

With that out of the way, I hope this newsletter finds you well – I am in the nation’s capital, where the lame duck session started Monday and newly elected members are arriving for organizational meetings so we can hit the ground running in the new Congress shortly after New Year’s Day.

I told you in the last newsletter that Speaker-to-be John Boehner asked me to chair the transition over the next couple of months, with the primary focus making the Congress more transparent and accountable to taxpayers than ever before; making sure the people, the policy makers and the press all have time to read and understand legislation before it’s voted on; putting legislative proposals and committee votes online. After all, it is the people House, the public’s business, the taxpayers’ money and they should have the right to participate in the process. It’s an important (and large!) responsibility. You can read more about it in a profile that the Washington Post put together.

Despite my increased leadership responsibilities back in Washington, I continue to work on the most important issues: those involving Oregon and especially the Second District. As a story in the Mail-Tribune noted last week: “Although his new post has elevated him into the national political spotlight, (Walden) said he intends to keep his commitment to visit the district nearly every weekend.”

On Veteran’s Day I participated in observances in southern Oregon (Central Point, White City, Ashland, and Medford). The freedom and security that we enjoy in America was given to us because of the selfless sacrifice of those who have worn our nation’s uniform in the past, and those who wear it today. We thank them and their families for their service and sacrifice.

Meeting with Oregonians renews my energy, helps me maintain my focus and enhances my lengthy “to-do” list. If our paths don’t cross in the district, you can always contact me with any questions, concerns or comments you may have, or if you have any conflicts with federal agencies in which I can help resolve. All of the contact info is at the bottom of the page.

Lakeview biomass

In last week’s newsletter I wrote a bit about over-reaching federal regulations that stand to threaten the fledgling biomass industry, especially in Oregon.

Well here’s a bit of good news: the Lakeview biomass plant, after years of planning, is in the final stages of becoming a reality. The 26.8-megawatt Lakeview Cogeneration Plant started its construction last week.

The local community and Collins never lost sight of the vision, and they strongly persevered through numerous setbacks and delays. Now, their faith and effort will pay off in jobs, efficiency, and better health of our forests in the area. Biomass is a proven technology and the wave of the future as we manage because biomass is truly a renewable resource.

These are just the kinds of new job-creating projects that we need the federal government to support, rather than punish.

Oregon National Guard heading overseas

Eastern Oregon's own 3rd Battalion of the 116th Cavalry recently completed over 40 days of training at Camp Shelby Mississippi in preparation for their mission in Iraq. The 3-116 deployed from La Grande for their one year mission in Iraq in September. After completing their final stages of training on U.S. soil they will move out for Kuwait and then Iraq in the next few weeks. The 3-116 is comprised of units from Hood River, The Dalles, Hermiston, Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City and Ontario — all within the Second District.

Over the past seven years, the National Guard has been tasked and battle-tested as never before in its history. Time and again, Guardsmen have proven themselves more than deserving of the gratitude of their fellow Americans while defending freedom around the globe.

I know this deployment will not be without strife and concern for our soldiers and their families. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

Follow the 3-116 on Facebook.

“Ranchers feeding kids” & “Beef for schools”

There’s some good stuff going on in Malheur and Baker counties when it comes to school lunches. The Baker County Cattlemen started their “Beef for Schools” program in 2008 and the Malheur County Cattlemen’s association started the Ranchers Feeding Kids program in 2009. Both of these programs provide locally grown beef to school meal programs at no cost to the schools.

Here’s how it works. Local ranchers donate animals and help pay for the animals to be processed at a local USDA inspected facility.  The processed meat in the form of hamburger and roasts is then provided to local schools free of charge. The Ranchers Feeding Kids program also includes an educational component where the ranchers educate students about the local cattle industry.

I have to applaud both the Baker and Malheur County Cattlemen for starting these innovative and community driven programs. These help provide nutritious meals to our school children and showcase locally grown food, along with educating the next generation of students about the importance of the agriculture industry. It’s a real winner all the way around.

Public comment period extended on Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan

A quick note here that the public comment period for a new far-reaching recovery plan for the northern spotted owl has been extended for 30 days.

Earlier this month, I helped write a bipartisan letter to the Secretary of the Interior asking for an additional 90 days in the comment period. Our chief concern is that the public isn’t getting a fair amount of time to weigh in: the public received 150 days to comment on the 2008 recovery plan with four separate public meetings. This time around, the public was only scheduled to get 60 days to comment – so we asked for an additional 90 days to get to the same precedent that was set in 2008.

The federal plan is troubling because it significantly shifts the focus of recovery efforts to include non-federal, or private, lands.

I support the need to develop an effective recovery strategy for the northern spotted owl, but it’s important that the public has sufficient time and information to comment of the new plan, which will affect huge tracts of land in the Northwest.

New Veterans Court in Klamath Falls

A veterans’ court opened in Klamath Falls last week – it’s the first of its kind in the entire state. The court is aimed at addressing criminal justice issues that veterans face — especially as a result of mental health issues from their military service.

This is a unique program that has solid support from the county and veteran groups in the area. It really says a lot about the people in Klamath Falls and how they feel about their veterans to set up a system like this.

I hope it serves as a model for more communities in Oregon to follow in the future. As I’ve said many times before, our veterans deserve everything we can possibly do to support them when they come home. It’s the least we can do.

Leadership change with the U.S. Forest Service

One quick final note: Mary Wagner, who directly oversees much of the U.S. Forest Service land in the Northwest, is moving on to a new post within the agency. Mary was particularly helpful in the response to the floods in the Wallowa-Whitman that washed out the Mountain Loop Road earlier this year.

Her replacement has not been selected. When Mary took on the Region 6 Supervisor position, I invited her to a community roundtable in Elgin and a meeting in Enterprise to show her how important resources-based jobs are to the folks in eastern Oregon.

Both events packed the house – easily more than 100 attended the Union County forum. I will extend a similar invitation to whoever ends up as Mary’s successor. If we’re going to get the economy turned around in our forested communities, we need to improve forest policy on federal land.

That’s all for now. Have a great rest of the week. 

Best regards,

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District

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              Page Updated: Thursday November 18, 2010 02:45 AM  Pacific

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