O regon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley — Democrats — are celebrating a bipartisan package of bills on public lands that passed the Senate. There’s probably something in the package that almost anyone would find worth celebrating, especially people in Crooked River Ranch.
But in all the excitement about the “bipartisan” package, Wyden and Merkley seem to have forgotten someone: Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River.
The joint news release ticks down a long list of Oregon-related changes. For instance, if the bill becomes law, there will be a new Devil’s Staircase Wilderness of 30,000 acres between the Umpqua and Smith rivers.
Wyden and Merkley get mentioned throughout these Oregon accomplishments, of course. But the announcement also singles out the work of Rep. Peter DeFazio, a fellow Democrat from Springfield. They make a point of giving him credit for his work to develop a steelhead sanctuary north of the North Umpqua River.
Then comes a discussion of an effort to improve wildfire protection for Crooked River Ranch. Acres near the ranch would be removed from the nearby wilderness study area. That gives the Bureau of Land Management more freedom to treat the removed area to reduce wildfire risk.
It’s a big deal. Homes in Crooked River Ranch back right up to the wilderness study area boundary, and then, there’s a canyon, a short distance away. If there’s anything fire likes to do, it is race uphill. Reducing the risk of a wildfire reaching homes is critical.
The release highlights Wyden’s role in making that happen. He secured an amendment to ensure the removed lands are managed for forest health and wildfire resiliency.
But whose bill was it that proposed this important change for Crooked River Ranch? Walden, a Republican, in whose district Crooked River Ranch lies.
He doesn’t get mentioned at all. Gee, we wonder why.