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Earl B.
Democrat OR 3

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  • Malheur Wildlife Refuge

    by Representative Earl Blumenauer

    Posted on 2016-01-11

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    BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, today is the ninth day of armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon--lawless, reckless behavior. As the Audubon Society points out: putting one of America's most important wildlife refuges at risk and threatening Federal employees.

    David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, points out they are trampling on the rights of every American, they are the opposite of conservatives, and they will continue to bully, threaten, and test the limits of civil society until they are stopped. Jenkins urged the Obama administration to follow Teddy Roosevelt's advice that the law must be enforced with resolute firmness.

    I fully understand policy differences, that compromises must be made and that there will be mistakes. I have worked with my Republican colleague Greg Walden, whose neighboring district goes all the way to the Idaho border, as we struggled to make broad Federal policy work better for everyone as we spent several years developing a vision for Mount Hood that included protections for wilderness and [[Page H226]] practices for infrastructure and management. It is an ongoing effort. But with 323 million Americans, diverse landscapes, and philosophies that are buried, there are going to be struggles and differences that continue.

    The answer is to keep working to find common ground, like we did with our staff and families on a 3-day hike around that magnificent mountain. For that moment, Mount Hood wasn't the dividing line between our districts; it was a point around which we could come together to agree and work to make things better. It brought us together. That is exactly what needs to happen now.

    There are tremendous challenges in our State of Oregon. We have a wildlife refuge in the Klamath Basin with a historic opportunity to remove unnecessary dams that even the private owner doesn't feel it could maintain, to help restore damage to salmon runs, to be able to deal with a parched wildlife basin in the middle of a desert.

    The Federal Government has promised far more in that basin to the stakeholders than it can deliver. There is a huge responsibility for all of us in the Federal Government to help unwind this unsustainable situation.

    Native Americans, particularly in the Northwest, despite solemn treaty rights promised to them by the Federal Government and ratified by Congress, have long been abused and ignored. They deserve to be taken seriously and their rights respected.

    There are opportunities, like dam removal, that signal a winning opportunity to keep faith with our environmental responsibilities and treaty obligations to Native Americans, to wildlife, and to the surrounding area.

    Far from being a threat to the region's economy, the removal, in an environmentally responsible way, of the four dams which generate little energy will provide hundreds of family wage jobs for years that will inject badly needed money into the region in the deconstruction phase, to say nothing of the long-term benefits for tourism, recreation, and enhanced environment.

    Let's seize the opportunity in the Klamath. Let's take the opportunity to implement the long-term vision and water restoration for the Malheur Basin. These are items where hundreds and hundreds of people have labored in good faith for tens of thousands of hours. They don't need armed outsiders to come to Oregon, threatening public safety and the precious resources for their own political gains.

    We ought to be able, in our region, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, discord, and the specter of dissension, anger, and a continued sense of victimhood and loss. We don't have to do that. Let's build on the progress that we have established and work together to make these people and ourselves winners.


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