Letters to the Editor for Feb. 27

‘Fix mess’

I am writing to urge you to contact Congressman Greg Walden to support HR4365. This bill seeks to fix some of the existing mess involving DEA issues and EMS. As an emergency physician in Hood River and The Dalles, and EMS medical director supervising Wasco and Sherman counties, I believe that this is a very important bill to help us care for our patients in rural Oregon. Many of our patients live far from the nearest hospital, and their lifelines are our EMS services. Currently, medications such as Morphine (to treat pain) or Versed (to stop seizures) are given under standing orders written by me and other EMS medical directors. The DEA has stated that the use of these standing orders for controlled substances is not legal and they would expressly forbid them in new EMS regulations that they plan to propose soon. Many of our patients will suffer unnecessarily or could die if the DEA changes its regulations to prohibit the administration of these medications to patients in the field without direct oversight by a physician. This bill would help us by formalizing and legalizing the use of protocols or standing orders for controlled substances.

Thank you in advance for helping us to care for our rural Oregonian patients — your family, friends and neighbors.

Erin Burnham, MD

Mid-Columbia Medical Center

The Dalles

Will restore splendor

When Europeans first arrived in the Pacific Northwest, much of the eastside forests were semi open lands with only five to 25 trees per acre. In the Hood River area, these trees typically would have been large diameter fire adapted Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs. Today when you go into the same woods you might still be able to locate these ancient fire scarred trees, though they will be well hidden amongst an overgrowth of thousands of sickly or dead younger trees per acre that decades of fire suppression have allowed to grow, but certainly not flourish.

While the original forest must have been beautiful and would have been an outdoorsman’s paradise, the present overgrown forests are all but impassible unless there is a maintained road or trail for someone to travel along. What the Polallie-Cooper plan does is attempt to take today’s unhealthy forest and return it to some semblance of its former self. If we don’t thin these overstocked forests, which are a product of man and not nature, then nature is going to reduce them to acres of blackened stems and we won’t see a mature open eastside forest until many generations have passed.

I personally would like to be able to take a stroll among wide-spaced pines and firs on public forest lands in Hood River County and be able to watch deer and elk graze the grasses and forbs that grow on the sunny forest floor between the trees. I think the Polallie-Cooper forest plan is a good and necessary plan for restoring our local forest to their long-ago splendor.

Jim Denton

Hood River

STR diversion

Thank you Fritz Reuter for an accurate perspective. The whole STR issue is the perfect red herring masking the true need for land use planning in our county. For those that don’t want to face that fact, spending countless hours of planning commission time will be perfect. There is also the high probability of stifling a worthwhile little part of our economy — which is part of that “just say no” mentality. Other cities in the world think of best uses of their space — they go up when they can’t go out, they create ordinances that allow higher density where it is appropriate, and they keep good farm land in farm production, but allow unproductive land to be developed for other purposes. All of these things (and more) could be done by Hood River’s county and city planners, but instead they will burn valuable time on this STR diversion, and in the end do more harm than good. We need some “big picture” leadership here!

Paul Thompson

Hood River

Attend concert

If you want to be blown away by the amount of local talent in this area, plan on attending the Columbia Gorge Sinfonietta’s concert this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Wy’east Middle School’s Performing Arts Center.

They are honoring American composers at this concert. I really attended to hear Dvorsak’s New World Symphony, which was stunning. However, you will also hear the premiere of a three movement concerto for dulcimer and orchestra written by another American composer who makes his home here in Hood River: Mark Steighner.

Not only do we have talented and dedicated sinfonietta members who work hard to make amazing music, we also have someone who can compose for the world stage.

Elaine Thompson

Hood River

Energy solution

Leadership can be rough sometimes. Party line votes don’t often result from thoughtful deliberations.

SB 1547 is the result of a ballot initiative, which would have required our state to derive 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2040 and eliminate imported coal generation from our state’s energy portfolio. Although the initiative polled well, it was not well written and the two largest utilities quickly joined with environmental groups, renewable energy advocates and the Citizens Utility Board, a rate payer’s watch dog group, to deliberate and develop legislation that could replace the ballot initiative. This resulted in SB 1547, which still requires 50 percent of energy to be renewable by 2040 and eliminate coal, but after passing through the house and senate with several amendments, it is a vastly better bill than the ballot initiative that was expected to pass.

Both Rep. Mark Johnson and Rep. John Huffman were instrumental in getting amendments that are important. With their amendments, 8 percent of our electricity will come from independent power producers like Farmers Irrigation District, which sells environmentally friendly hydro power. Community Solar developed in central Oregon or a family-owned wind farm can be part of our 8 percent mix of new renewable energy. Another amendment to the bill reduced the cost cap of 4 percent to 3 percent, thus further limiting the exposure for potential rate increases which concern everyone.

The independently owned projects which result from the 8 percent requirement will add competition and allow many rural communities to benefit from energy development, rather than have the new development be PGE and PacifiCorp owned and only benefit stockholders.

Rep. Huffman and Rep. Johnson didn’t take the easy way out and just vote no on this bill; instead, they remained committed to make it better and work for all of Oregon. They saw through the partisan haze to see benefits that could be derived from making some key improvements. We appreciate their leadership and determination to make the most of a tough situation and get results that will improve our region. We hope you do, too.

Don Coats

The Dalles

Don Coats is chair of the Community Renewable Energy Association (www.community-renewables.org).

Support refuges

I’m writing to express my support for national wildlife refuges.

With the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon, our nation’s wildlife refuges have been thrust into the spotlight. It’s apparent that few are aware of the incredible benefits wildlife refuges provide to communities and the local economy.

For every $1 Congress appropriates to run the Refuge System, nearly $5 is returned to local economies in jobs, sales, income and tax revenue. And that’s on average. In many areas, wildlife refuges provide an even greater boost to the economy. Malheur is one such economic engine, returning over $7 for every $1 appropriated by Congress.

National wildlife refuges are special places. These lands consist of the rivers where veterans fly fish to assist in the healing process from PTSD, marshes where a parent takes their child hunting for the first time, open grasslands that become a child’s first memory of an outdoor classroom and the lands where ranchers teach their children about the history of responsible land stewardship.

The illegal occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has stripped us of our rights as American citizens to make memories at this wildlife refuge. This needs to stop. National wildlife refuges belong to ALL Americans and we want Malheur back.

Wildlife Refuges, National Parks, and other federally owned lands belong to the people and are regulated so as not to be destroyed. These regulations preserve these islands of hope.

It seems to me that Republican politicians and libertarians always want these lands turned over to the states. This only makes it easier to privatize and deregulate. Once our public lands are privatized, the public will no longer be able to use them.

Christian Bookter

Goldendale, Wash.

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