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Leadership is lacking; rural Oregon is on its own

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Regarding Laura Pryor’s letter to the Eastern Oregon Rural Alliance on the demise of the Office of Rural Policy, I don’t blame the legislators entirely and don’t thank the governor for his lackluster effort.

Time and again he has talked the good talk and then ignored rural Oregon. Lack of leadership in the governor’s office has plagued rural Oregon for decades. Executive leadership in the ’90s could have helped fend off the attacks on the federal lands timber industry and multiple uses. What we got was a state that accommodated environmental ignorance by closing our federal forests to timber harvest, limiting grazing, and choking our land with overgrown vegetation.

Our state leadership didn’t look ahead in 2000 to give the private sector a chance to rebuild the timber industry as was intended in the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self Determination Act. It is not game over. We need to get private-public employee economic development collaboration. We need people in Salem that will support rural areas as important parts of Oregon and fight for the private sector’s right and need to use our God-given commodities. I agree with Pryor that we must do it ourselves.

Tim Smith
Harney County

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