Protect our rivers

While fishing along the Lower Deschutes last fall, I stopped at a high point above the water and watched a pair of salmon spawn. As they hovered over a shallow gravel bar, the female used her tail to sweep depressions in the river bed to deposit her eggs. The male seemed more preoccupied with chasing rival males away than spawning.

Watching them reminded me of how rare and fragile this spectacle has become, and how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to witness it. It also reminded me of how connected these fish are to the wider landscape around them. The water in the Deschutes drains from the east slope of the Cascades, flows from alpine meadows in the Ochocos, and bubbles up from the porous rocks of Central Oregon. Those salmon reminded me that unless we as a society value them and protect their habitat through legislation like the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, they won’t be able to survive.

If clean water and healthy habitats are a value to us, then it’s time to declare it by expanding our inventory of protected waterways. Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley’s new rivers bill does just that. Passing this bill will not only help salmon and all the other plants and animals that depend on those habitats. It will also help each of us fulfill our responsibility to our children and grandchildren by leaving them a landscape where they too can marvel at this great natural spectacle.

— Ed Putnam Bend

Not such a great job

Listen to Gov. Kate Brown’s press conference last week? Under the impression the state is doing a bang-up job administering COVID-19 vaccines? Sunday’s Oregonian headlines and accompanying stories tell a different story.

Front page “State warns of ‘chaos’ for seniors.” “Starting Monday, Oregon will become one of the last states in the country to make seniors 80 and older eligible for the vaccines.” The state admits there are not enough vaccines to meet the demand. But they proudly announce a weekly rollout for seniors 65 and older, adding to the chaos.

Page 12: “Hundreds of large care homes yet to receive coronavirus vaccine” and “The governor erroneously claimed all residents had gotten a shot.” According to her, “We have gone through and vaccinated every senior who’s wanted a vaccine that lives in assisted living, that lives in congregate care and in skilled nursing.” Facts, “as many as 307 of the state’s 588 assisted living homes statewide have not been offered a first round of the vaccines” and the same for “more than 1,200 of the state’s 1,400 adult foster homes.”

Facts: “77% of Oregon’s 2,019 COVID-19 deaths occurred in Oregonians 70 and older.” Gov. Brown chose vaccinating teachers before seniors in a “push to re-open schools.” But schools have been slow to reopen, fearful of face-to-face instruction. “Federal officials have said schools can safely re-open without vaccinating teachers.” The Page 13 headline “State expected to begin vaccinating inmates this week.” Explain to vulnerable seniors why “Governor Kate Brown has authorized the Oregon Health Authority to provide the state prison system with 10,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine for its inmate population beginning this week.”

Thank you, Gov. Brown for telling us you are doing such a great job.

— Jim Hannah, Redmond

Stop coyote killing contests

Coyote killing contests are barbaric and cruel! I would like to thank Reps. Brad Witt, Rob Nosse, Sheri Schouten, Janeen Sollman and Marty Wilde for their support and sponsorship of House Bill 2728. I’m asking all representatives to vote for HB 2728, and put an end to these grotesque coyote killing contests. There is overwhelming support, across the state of Oregon, to stop this awful practice; it simply does not represent the majority of Oregonians and their support for science-based, humane and ethical wildlife management policies.

Studies have shown that the killing contests do not reduce coyote populations, but instead can cause splintered packs, and increased reproduction rates. These contests have also not proven to be an effective means to reduce conflict with livestock or increase game species. Please follow suit with Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Massachusetts, California, and Vermont, and finally stop coyote killing contests and pass HB 2728!

— Renee Espenel, Portland

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