Tag Archives: Oregon Press Releases

Crooked R. Grassland EIS out; open house set

The Forest Service, Ochoco National Forest, Crooked River National Grassland has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Vegetation Management and Grazing.

Copies of the Draft EIS are available for public review and comment at the Crooked River National Grassland Office in Madras and on the Central Oregon Forest Service website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/projects/units/crooked/grassland-eis/index.shtml .

A public open house is scheduled for April 16 from 7-9 pm at the Jefferson County Fire Department at 765 S. Adams Drive, Madras, OR 97741. Maps of the project area will be posted and specialists from the interdisciplinary team will be available to answer questions.

Written comments concerning the Draft EIS will be accepted at the public meeting or may be mailed to: District Ranger, Crooked River National Grassland, 813 SW Highway 97, Madras, OR 97741. Comments will be accepted through May 24.

The Draft EIS proposes a set of management actions that would:

• bring native vegetation conditions back to where they more closely resemble pre-settlement conditions. This would be accomplished by reducing the density of western juniper and re-seeding previously farmed and seeded sites;

• meet the requirements of Section 504 of the 1995 Rescission Act requiring National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis and decisions for all grazing allotments by 2011;

• leave a greater diversity of grass stubble heights at the end of the grazing season to improve habitat for ground nesting birds such as the California quail; and

• close livestock grazing on three allotments because of downward ecological trends, non-functional or non-existent fences and water developments, private in-holdings which are currently being developed and ten years of vacancy (non-use) on two of the allotments.

“The release of the Draft EIS provides an important opportunity for public comment on our management proposals for the Grassland. Our intent is to restore the health of the sagebrush steppe habitat and local watersheds while providing sustainable levels of livestock grazing,” said District Ranger Kristin Bail.

The 111,571-acre Grassland was created from failed homesteads that were purchased by the Federal government under the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937.

Initial settlement in the area of the Grassland began in the mid-1800′s. To facilitate settlement of the West, Congress enacted the Homestead Act of 1862 that authorized the disposition of 160-acre parcels of public domain land to those willing to live on and cultivate it.

Most of the homesteaders on the Grassland were dryland grain farmers. Flatter areas were cleared of sagebrush and native grasses to create farm fields. On steeper slopes, sheep and cattle grazing occurred. Juniper trees were harvested for firewood, fencing and other purposes. Lumber for homes was often obtained from the nearby sawmill on Grizzly Mountain.

Settlement flourished for a time, but drought conditions, crop failures and the Depression took its toll. By 1934, fewer than 50 families remained out of the nearly 700 that had existed some three decades earlier. Mortgage foreclosures, tax delinquencies and personal hardships were commonplace.

In the 1930′s, the federal government began a nationwide program to buy land, retire it from cultivation, and develop it for pasture, forest, range and other uses.

In 1938, management responsibility for these purchased lands was transferred to the Soil Conservation Service (SCS). Intensive improvement and development activities began almost immediately; when these activities were halted on the Grassland in the 1980′s, about 65,000 acres of previously farmed lands had been seeded to crested wheatgrass or beardless bluebunch wheatgrass to help stabilize soils.

In 1954, management responsibility was transferred to the USDA Forest Service. Today there are 23 allotments on the Grassland which are grazed under a permit issued to a single permittee, the Gray Butte Grazing Association.

Environmental group backs Gordon, Stiegler

The Oregon League of Conservation Voters announced Wednesday its legislative and local endorsements and targets for the May 18 primary election.

The state’s leading environmental endorsement, the OLCV “Seal of Approval,” tells voters which candidates they can trust to protect clean water, clean air, wildlife, and farmland. OLCV’s endorsement is backed up by one of the largest volunteer forces in Oregon politics, combined with significant financial resources.

Receiving the OLCV endorsement are 68 candidates in 64 races across the state including: 3 statewide, 38 legislative, and 27 local candidates (see Deschutes County list below and online at www.olcv.org).

“Almost every politician claims to be for a clean environment; but they don’t all vote that way,” said Jonathan Poisner, Oregon League of Conservation Voters Executive Director. “OLCV’s endorsement tells voters which candidates will best protect the water we drink, hold polluters accountable for their toxic messes, and protect our farmland from sprawl.”

Through grassroots action, independent mailers, and donations, OLCV mobilizes resources to provide the margin of victory to its endorsed candidates facing particularly close contests.

In Deschutes County, one important local contest is shaping up for the general election. OLCV’s Deschutes County Chapter is endorsing Randy Gordon in the race for Deschutes County Commission.

The group said Gordon is committed to getting residents involved in decisions about the future of the county’s farmland and neighborhoods/ “He will prioritize the health of the community, not special interests,” its endorsement stated.

Gordon faces Democrat John Boyle in May, and the winner goes on to face the winner of the contested Republican primary, which has five candidates, including incumbent Mike Daly.

“Voters should pay special attention to whether candidates are backed by local citizen-groups like OLCV’s Deschutes County Chapter, or polluters and developers looking for favors,” said Paul Hutter, spokesperson for the OLCV Deschutes County Chapter. “Randy Gordon can be trusted with the future of Deschutes County.”

In state legislative races, OLCV’s goal is to remove the anti-environment leadership that has spent a decade attempting to undermine Oregon’s environmental legacy.

In 2004, this includes a campaign to elect Judy Stiegler in House District 54, the open seat in Bend that Republican Tim Knopp is vacating.

“Stiegler is committed to developing regional transportation solutions, protecting Oregon’s farmland, and encouraging smart development,” the OLCV endorsement stated.

Hutter said, “The election of Judy Stiegler would mean Central Oregon residents would finally have a legislator who will reflect our values – protecting our water, air, and land.”

OLCV’s grassroots political program has grown dramatically in just four election cycles, becoming one of the largest – if not the largest – volunteer forces in Oregon politics.

In the 2002 election, OLCV’s volunteer-led chapters involved more than 1100 volunteers in eight counties, together making more than 100,000 phone calls and door knocks.

In 2004, OLCV has a goal of increasing its grassroots base to 1500 volunteers and 120,000 voter phone calls and door knocks.

“In close races, personal contact from OLCV volunteers and voters makes the difference,” said Poisner. “When we talk to voters about the way polluters and legislators have conspired to weaken clean water safeguards, voters get angry,” added Poisner. “It’s our job to help those voters get even by electing new leaders who will put their interests ahead of polluters.”

OLCV (www.olcv.org) is the political voice of Oregon’s environmental movement. A non-partisan organization, OLCV is made up of thousands of Oregonians who care about protecting our water, air, and land. For 30 years, OLCV has held elected officials accountable, and helped elect pro-environment candidates.

OLCV’s endorsement process includes research on the candidate’s public record, a written questionnaire, and an interview. The process relies on the expertise of local steering committee volunteers and state Board volunteers to determine endorsement decisions.

OLCV Endorsements in Deschutes County 2004 Primary

Statewide Races
Secretary of State: Bill Bradbury
Treasurer: Randall Edwards
Attorney General: Hardy Myers

State Representative
House District 54: Judy Stiegler (Bend)

Local Office
County Commission Position 2: Randy Gordon

Oregon Business Plan group revises proposals

PORTLAND – The Oregon Business Plan Steering Committee, a coalition of Oregon’s top business leaders, on Wednesday unveiled their updated list of policy recommendations for the state and announced that the 3rd Annual Leadership Summit will be held Dec. 6, 2004.

During the last three months, the Oregon Business Plan Steering Committee consulted with the state’s business, elected, and community leaders to refine and update the initiatives from the original Business Plan adopted in January 2003. Several initiatives in the 2004 Initiative Guide were reorganized and contain additional action items.

“At the Leadership Summit last December, we praised our many partners, including Oregon’s elected leaders, for the great progress we have made on our economic agenda,” said Steering Committee Chair William Thorndike, President and CEO of Medford Fabrication. “However, our work is far from over. This year, the business community will pay special attention to revamping public finance, strengthening post-secondary education, and developing industry clusters.”

For 2004, the Business Plan policy initiatives are organized into six categories: Public Finance, People, Place, Productivity, Pioneering Innovation, and Branding.

Continuing a partnership that began with the first Leadership Summit in December 2002, the Oregon Business Plan Leadership Committee -Senators Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith, Governor Ted Kulongoki, Senate President Peter Courtney, and House Speaker Karen Minnis – will work with the business community to achieve many of the initiative recommendations.

“Now more than ever, we need to maintain our focus on improving the state’s economy and creating quality jobs for Oregonians,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, who conceived of the first Leadership Summit in 2002 and serves as the Leadership Committee Chair. “As called for in the Oregon Business Plan, I look forward to working with Senator Smith and the rest of our Congressional delegation to build on our success with federal funding for transportation, signature nanotech research, and the healthy forests initiative.”

U.S. Senator Gordon Smith said, “I’m optimistic about Oregon’s economy, but we have a lot of work to do to get people back to work. I will look closely at the updated initiatives in the Oregon Business Plan to make sure we maintain our progress.”

Governor Ted Kulongoski noted, “The best way to make sure we have a highly skilled workforce is through a system of lifelong learning that provides high standards and offers citizens many options for training throughout their lives. I share the Oregon Business Plan’s commitment to increasing access and ensuring excellence in our higher education and workforce development systems.”

State legislative leaders plan to use the Oregon Business Plan and the months leading up to the 3rd Annual Leadership Summit in December as an opportunity to shape a comprehensive economic agenda for the 2005 session.

“We recognize the importance of working with the business community to ensure a healthy economy for our state,” said Senate President Peter Courtney. “We were very successful last session in coming together on key issues. In preparing for next session, we will again look forward to exploring the recommendations in the Initiative Guide, particularly in regards to our K-12 and higher education investments.”

“From PERS reform to refocusing economic development, the Legislature has already achieved incredible results on many of the Business Plan’s action items,” said House Speaker Karen Minnis. “We will continue to build on this momentum and look for more ways to strengthen Oregon’s economy in partnership with the business community.”

The 2004 Initiative Guide is available at www.OregonBusinessPlan.org.

Oregon Business Plan Initiatives for 2004
Public Finance

· Stabilize Public Services Financing and Budgeting

Pioneering Innovation

· Support Traded-Sector Industry Cluster Development

· Increase Oregon’s Capacity to Commercialize Research

· Increase Management Capacity and Access to Capital

People

· Continue to Build a First-Rate K-12 Education System

· Invest Differently in Post-Secondary Education to Ensure Access and Boost Oregon’s Economy

Place

· Enhance Forest Resources Benefits to the Economy and Environment

Productivity

· Enhance Oregon’s Transportation Infrastructure

· Make Land Available for Traded-Sector Industry Development

· Simplify and Streamline Regulation and Permitting

Branding Oregon

· Brand and Market Oregon More Aggressively

Oregon Business Plan Steering Committee Members
William D. Thorndike, Jr., (Chair), Medford Fabrication; Allen H. Alley, Pixelworks; Eric Blackledge, Blackledge Furniture; Marty Brantley (ex officio), Oregon Economic and Community Development Department; Sam Brooks, S. Brooks & Associates; Raymond G. Guenther, Intel Corporation; John Harker, InFocus Systems; Paul J. Kelly, Nike; Randolph L. Miller, The Moore Company; Randall C. Papé, The Papé Group; Ronald C. Parker, Hampton Affiliates; Steven D. Pratt, ESCO Corporation; Richard G. Reiten, NW Natural; Nancy Tait, Bear Creek Corporation; Don VanLuvanee; Walter Van Valkenburg, Stoel Rives LLP; Brett Wilcox, Northwest Aluminum.

2004 New Members: Gun Denhart, Hanna Andersson Corporation; Mark Dodson, NW Natural; Michael R. Nelson, Nelson Real Estate; Walden C. Rhines, Mentor Graphics Corporation.

Oregon Business Plan Initiative Leaders
Steven J. Clark, Community Newspapers; Scott Gibson, Gibson Enterprises; Michelle Girts, CH2M Hill; Larry Giustina, Giustina Land & Timber; James B. Johnson; Jill Kirk, Lindberg-Kirk-Millar; Randolph L. Miller, The Moore Company; Michael R. Nelson, Nelson Real Estate; Ronald C. Parker, Hampton Affiliates; Judy Peppler, Qwest; Gretchen Pierce, Hult & Associates LLC; Howard Sohn, Lone Rock Timber; Ken Thrasher, Complí; Walter Van Valkenburg, Stoel Rives LLP; Brett Wilcox, Northwest Aluminum; Tom Zelenka, Schnitzer Steel Industries.

To download the Oregon Business Plan 2004 Initiative Guide (PDF), or for background information on the Oregon Business Plan, please visit www.OregonBusinessPlan.org.

Gov, Wyden seek funds to clean up Willamette

COTTAGE GROVE – Standing at the abandoned Black Butte Mine near Cottage Grove, Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced Wednesday that they will work with the rest of Oregon’s congressional delegation to fight for federal funding to clean up the Willamette River. They were joined by staff from Rep. Peter DeFazio’s office.

“One of the key elements of a successful Willamette River cleanup plan is a successful partnership with the federal government,” said the governor. “I will be working closely with Senator Wyden and Congressman DeFazio to bring federal funding to Oregon to repair the damage that has been done to the Willamette River.”

Wyden and Kulongoski announced that they are seeking millions more to clean up old mine tailings, upgrade dams on tributaries, and restore wetlands.

“The Willamette River is an important part of our state’s history, commerce and culture,” Wyden said. “I want Governor Kulongoski to know that I think he picked a very important battle, and that I will fight to make the Federal government a better partner in his effort.”

The governor recently secured $12 million from the federal government to clean up toxic pollution from the McCormick and Baxter superfund site in Portland. The additional funding requested by the governor includes:

· $8 million to help the state cleanup the abandoned Black Butte Mine, which is currently leaching mercury into the Willamette.

· $6.2 million in additional federal funding for temperature control structures for the Cougar Dam Reservoir on the McKenzie River, building upon past appropriations secured by Congressman DeFazio.

“The mighty Willamette is one of Oregon’s many natural wonders,” said DeFazio. “It’s up to us to protect and preserve it for future generations. I’m pleased the governor identified the Willamette river restoration as a priority, and I look forward to working with other members of the delegation to secure federal funding to help clean up the Willamette.”

Wyden vowed to continue to fight for increased funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for clean air and clean water programs to help sites like the Black Butte Mine. He also plans to introduce an amendment to increase funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ mine cleanup budget.

“My commitment to Gov. Kulongoski, and to the people of Oregon, is to do everything I can in Washington, D.C. to support state and local efforts to restore the Willamette River as an environmental and historical treasure,” Wyden said. “From its headwaters in the Cascades to its confluence with the mighty Columbia, we owe it to future generations to do all we can to restore this critical resource.”

The press conference was the first stop in the Governor’s two-day trip to launch his Plan for the Willamette Legacy. The governor’s plan is centered around three themes: repair, restore and recreate.

“No one group can accomplish this critical goal alone – it’s going to take all of us working together to restore the health of the Willamette,” said the governor. “Everyone who lives, recreates and does business in the Willamette Basin has a role to play in this effort, as do Oregon’s private sector and our federal partners. We must continue the work that Tom McCall started, cleaning up and restoring the river so that our children will be able to fish without worry and swim in the river without a second thought.”

In later stops in Corvallis and Salem, the governor called for citizen and local government involvement in cleaning up the river, and announced his support for establishing a Willamette River Trail from Newberg to Corvallis. The goveror holds a press conference in Portland Thursday to outline further steps in his Willamette Cleanup effort.

Tax Day study shows where your money goes

After we pay our taxes, where do they go? Citizens for Oregon’s Future is helping Oregonians to answer that question.

In its Tax Day report for the 2003 tax year, “Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?”, Citizens for Oregon’s Future has identified the Top 10 services that receive the largest share of your federal, state and local taxes – K-12 public schools, Social Security, national defense, Medicaid and related programs, public safety, Medicare, universities and community colleges, interest on the federal debt, transportation and veterans’ benefits.

COF also identified some budget items that are less than 1 percent of your tax dollar, such as welfare, foreign aid and the IRS.

“Political campaigns thrive on controversy and often focus on spending that is relatively miniscule,” said Rhys Scholes, executive director of COF. “We’re pointing out that most government spending goes to the services that are most popular with voters.”

“Each government has different priorities,” said the group’s communications director, Steve Novick. “The federal government spends a lot of our money on defense and Social Security. The state spends a lot on education. Both the state and the federal governments spend a great deal on health care. Local governments spend a large share of property taxes on public safety.”

“There’s one big difference between the federal government and state and local governments: the federal government does a lot of borrowing,” Novick added. “Last year, Uncle Sam borrowed $536 billion of its $2.158 trillion budget, including $160 billion from the Social Security system. That’s over $1,800 per American that taxpayers must pay back someday.”

Citizens for Oregon’s Future is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the level of discussion about taxes and budgets in Oregon. More information is available on the COF Web site at www.fororegon.org .

Compared to the rest of the country, overall taxes on Oregonians are relatively low. Oregon ranks 39th in the 50 states for total state and local taxes paid as a percentage of income.

The median income of an Oregon family of four is $56,200. A typical home-owning family with that income would pay $11,900 in state and federal income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and gas taxes. That’s about 21 percent of the family’s income. (There are other taxes that not everyone pays, such as cigarette taxes, which are not included here.)

What are your taxes spent on?

The 10 public services that receive the largest shares of the typical family’s combined local, state, and federal tax dollars (ranked from highest to lowest):

1. K-12 public schools: 18.9%
2. Social Security: 12%
3. National defense: 9.9% (does not include veterans’ benefits; see below)
4. Medicaid and related programs: 8.8% (Oregon Health Plan, State senior/disabled)
5. Public safety: 8.6% (law enforcement, prisons, courts, fire protection)
6. Medicare: 6.3%
7. Universities and colleges: 4.1%
8. Interest on the federal debt: 3.9%
9. Transportation: 3.9% (streets, highways, some transit)
10. Veterans’ benefits: 1.5%

Group offers Bend tax stats

A family of four making $56,200 with a median-value home in Bend had slightly lower taxes, and spent slightly more on local services such as schools and public safety, than the average Oregon family.

Relatively high home values (median assessed value in Bend, $128,406, vs. a statewide average of $115,000) gave Bend residents bigger home mortgage interest deductions on their federal and state taxes. Meanwhile, Bend’s property tax rates were about the State average; but because the homes are worth more, the total property tax bill is a bit above average.

On the whole, the Bend family of four paid $11,862 in state income, federal income and Social Security / Medicare, property taxes and gas taxes – $38 less than the state average.

The distribution of the Bend family of four’s contributions among the `top 10′ and sample `less than 1 percent’ services:

K-12 public schools, 19.7%
Social Security, 11.8%
National defense, 9.7%
Public safety, 9.3%
Medicaid and related services (senior/disabled, for example), 8.6%
Medicare, 6.2%
Higher education / community colleges, 4.2%
Interest on the Federal debt, 3.8%
Transportation, 3.8%
Foreign aid, 0.45%
Oregon Department of Revenue, 0.26%
Oregon Legislature, 0.1%
Internal Revenue Service, 0.25%
NASA, 0.38%
Welfare (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), 0.56%