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Letters to the Editor for April 23

Lucky to have Walden

The recent letter to the editor by Paul Zastrow on Greg Walden was very timely and certainly appreciated. As a longtime resident of our local community, I wish to add my comments as well.

The undersigned and family have known Greg and his family for many years and have great respect and admiration for them all. We should all be so lucky as to have a person of his stature and respect in our Congress. Greg, with his respect in Congress, could very well be the next speaker in the House of Representatives.

I have worked with Greg several times on congressional bills and am in the process of doing so at this time. I am a member of a large group of cabin owners in Eastern Oregon and they have asked me to work with Greg on an important bill in Congress at present. Not only does he command respect in Congress, he does so in has very large Congressional district in Oregon.

Could we ask for more than this in this day of turmoil in Congress?

Percy Jensen and family

Hood River

Restore access

I was disappointed to read of the action of the Lyle School Board to terminate the agreement that allows hikers to access the Lyle/Cherry Orchard Trail from the high school grounds (belatedly reported in the Hood River News, April 16).

Concerns about school and student safety are justified, but it seems like this decision is motivated by opposition to expanding the trail, not safety. This seems especially so since the school district says its decision “will not have any impact on the use of school facilities for members of the community that use the grounds from time to time.”

So some members of the community can continue to use the grounds “from time to time” but hikers cannot? What about a hiker who is a member of the community and wants to use the school grounds to access the trail “from time to time”?

In a recent (unscientific and voluntary) survey, 56 percent of the people who identified themselves as being from Lyle favored expansion of a non-motorized trail system in the Lyle area.

Friends of the Gorge voluntarily pay taxes on its property even when it is under no obligation to do so since it is nonprofit and therefore tax-exempt. This amounts to approximately $13,000 annually.

One concern is that the property might be turned over to another entity which will take advantage of the tax-exempt status, but Friends of the Gorge says it has no plans to do so. On the contrary, keeping the property on the tax rolls is a stated priority of Friends. We can’t predict what the future may hold, but for now, Lyle is getting tax revenue that the property owner isn’t required to pay.

As a member of the community (and fellow taxpayer), I appreciate that. It is disappointing that the conversation about the expansion of the Lyle/Cherry Orchard trail has reached such a level of vitriol in the community. A little respect for the opinions of others (from all sides) seems to be in order. Breathe, people; it’s a trail.

Maxine Thompson

Lyle, Wash.

Sea lions no real threat

The state has killed six more sea lions for the crime of eating fish. Why are our hard-earned tax dollars going to support this waste of money?

Last week’s Columbia Basin Bulletin said that recreational fishermen in the Lower Columbia River kept over 9,000 chinook so far this year. This is more than 15 times the number of fish estimated to have been eaten by the sea lions at the dam.

Far from declining, the press is filled with reports the spring salmon runs up the Columbia have been boom runs in recent years. But the sea lions are the least of the problems facing salmon in the Columbia.

Even as state funds pay for branding and killing sea lions for eating salmon, the state management program helps assure that bass and walleye remain in the river. Fishermen love to catch these non-native fish and these non-native fish love to eat the young native salmon.

Columbia Riverkeeper recently reported that levels of mercury in fish in the river are 300 percent above what the EPA considers safe and levels of PCBs are even worse.

The state should stop spending our money on wasteful and inhumane killing of sea lions and focus instead on cleaning the polluting chemicals out of the river, getting rid of non-native fish, addressing dam impacts and restoring spawning streams.

Rachel Perman

Hood River

PERS and coaches

Nick Aliotti and Mike Bellotti won’t have to worry in retirement. Between them they get $750,000 in retirement benefits. That’s not what they have in their accounts; that is what they will receive annually.

That’s approximately the amount the state cut from your school board this year; how ironic.

This would be more than enough to hire three full-time psychiatrists at OHSU who could spend their time trying to cure the insanity in the legislature and at the PERS board, the folks who allowed this in the first place.

Rob Brostoff

Cascade Locks

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