Editorial: Time again to renew county timber money

July 20, 2011

Below you can read Congressman Greg Walden's arguments - fortunately - in support of what have become known as "county payments." Those are the millions of dollars the federal government allocates to Oregon counties - as well as others across the nation - as compensation, in part, for drops in the federal timber harvest resulting from environmental restrictions.

The payments are part of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, established in 2000 to help fund counties in the West (though the payments extend east of the Mississippi River) whose revenue was cut by the inability to collect taxes on timber harvests on nontaxable public lands. That's a mouthful, but essentially the money helps pay for county services.

The support is set to expire Sept. 30, so last week a House subcommittee pondered possible solutions to local governments - like Hood River County's - which are surrounded by federal forests. Those solutions ideally won't add to the nation's growing deficit.

A few Republicans have two easy fixes: soften environmental protections and increase the amount of timber harvested from federal forests. Both solutions have plenty of baggage and that's why Walden is proposing other ideas, some of which are listed below.

Walden's critics say he's playing both sides in calling for the shrinking of the federal government, while at the same time asking for "handouts." Walden knows many people in his district would love to be weaned off the federal trough. He also knows that's easier said than done, for example, when the government controls most of the land. That's why, as he argues below, some long-term, innovative solutions are in order.

Safety first

Temporary solution buys some time

As of Monday, Cascade Locks had one applicant interested in leading its volunteer fire fighters. As we argued in this space on Saturday, the city needs to appoint that applicant, Jeff Pricher, to head its fire department - if for the only reason to add some stability to its volunteer fire fighting force.

In the meantime, the city services committee, city council and recently hired city administrator can continue to map out a plan for the future of emergency services in the community. Most importantly, they can do so without unnecessary pressure from citizens worried about their safety.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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