Thursday, July 26, 2012
This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I love Eastern Oregon. I have dreamed all of my life of being a real live cowboy so the idea of ranching is something I would give my right arm to do. I love the great ranchers and farmers of the area. I have met so many over the years and I spend a good chunk of time there every summer. I grew up in Redmond, spent time helping my rancher friends in high school and have never lost that love for the wide open spaces of Eastern Oregon, so when I saw the horrors of the wildfires, my heart was broken.
Over the last couple months, our fellow Oregonians in Harney and Malheur Counties have suffered greatly by some of the most devastating wildfires in over 150 years. The fires rage on near Frenchglen. There seems to be a real disconnect with the folks in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and the folks in Eastern Oregon as I have pointed out many times.
We in the Valley go about our business, talk politics, have our backyard barbecues and all the things that make life enjoyable here. Meanwhile the plight of the rancher in Eastern Oregon is ignored by the Valley TV and radio stations. No news except when it's catastrophic such as the wildfires. There is so much more to tell. I don't have the time to tell the stories of cattleman I have talked to in my many visits to Eastern Oregon. These are some of the most patriotic people you'll ever meet. They love America and they love Oregon, but they don't understand why we in the Valley seem to ignore them. Yes, they're nearest neighbor may be 25 miles away on another ranch, but that doesn't stop them from stopping their hard work on any given day to help that neighbor. It's time WE helped to.
The ONLY member of Oregon's Congressional team to step up and actually, tangibly do something for the cattleman of Eastern Oregon? Congressman Greg Walden. He has tirelessly worked for relief, not in the way of dollars from Washington D.C, but in the kind of relief that cattleman would want. Land. Land to allow the cattle to graze. Land for the cattle to be taken to for their safety. Land that the Federal Government has said "off limits" to cattle to keep it in it's "pristine nature". The ranchers of Eastern Oregon care more about that "nature" than ANYONE as it affects their livelihood and their futures.
Congressman Walden is the only Congressman or Senator to make several trips to Eastern Oregon during this time of wildfires and he held several town hall meetings in those wonderful little communities. (See story compilation here, courtesy of KTVZ in Bend)
Now one could make the argument "he's helping his own district". I would counter: anyone remember the Congressman who came to Oregon during the flooding in Tillamook? I can cite many other cases. Greg Walden is an Oregonian through and through. He cares about ALL of Oregon. It's too bad that Senators Merkley and Wyden and Congressional representatives Blumenauer, Schrader, DeFazio and Bonamici are more interested in what's good for Washington D.C. and not Oregon.
Here's how you and I can help out these wonderful people and keep this pioneering spirit alive in Eastern Oregon (which by the way takes up over 72% of Oregon's land mass).
Oregon Cattlemen Set Up Fire Victim Fund
To make a charitable contribution to the Fire Victims Relief Fund, or to offer in-kind or relocation assistance, please contact Kay Teisl, Executive Director of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, at 503-361-8941 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org