Author: karla kay edwards

Karla discusses Alberta’s Bill 36 on CAEPLA Connections in Canada – Part 2

Click here for Part 1

On July 2, 2011, Karla continued discussion with CAEPLA CONNECTIONS LANDOWNER TALK RADIO about an Alberta land use law similar to one instituted in Oregon.

From the CAEPLA website…

This week on CAEPLA Connections Landowner Talk Radio, Keith Wilson, Karla Kay Edwards, and Kevin Avram discuss the impact of Bill 36-like legislation in Oregon. Bill 36 is an Alberta law that is going to change Alberta in a way that few people realize. In many instances, it is also going to affect property values in ways that few people have thought about. The Bill is the Stelmach government’s central planning land use law.

For more information, visit http://www.landownerassociation.ca

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Karla discusses Alberta’s Bill 36 on CAEPLA Connections in Canada – Part 1

Click here for part 2

On June 25, 2011, Karla visited with CAEPLA CONNECTIONS LANDOWNER TALK RADIO about an Alberta land use law similar to one instituted in Oregon.

From the CAEPLA website…

When Alberta Cabinet Minister Mel Knight was asked if there was any democratic jurisdiction anywhere, that had implemented the kind of land use laws and central planning embodied in Alberta’s Bill 36, he responded by saying, “Yes, in Oregon.” And Oregon did it 40 years ago! Since then, other than Alberta, no one has copied Oregon’s way of doing things, and with good reason. It’s been a disaster for property rights.

For more information, visit http://www.landownerassociation.ca

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An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama:

 

Your recognition of the importance of rural America is appreciated, but it appears shallow thus far in your presidency. The announcement of the establishment of the White House Rural Council has lofty goals, but actions speak louder than words. At this point your administration’s actions have done little to relieve the economic woes of rural communities, especially in Oregon.

 

The executive order establishing the Council lists 25 agencies and other federal government entities that will participate under the leadership of the Secretary of Agriculture to “better coordinate Federal programs and maximize the impacts of Federal investment to promote economic prosperity and quality of life….” My question is, whose quality of life and economic prosperity? The only mention of economic opportunity in the order pertains to “…energy development, outdoor recreation, and other conservation related activities.”

 

Here in Oregon, we have lived with this utopian concept of economic development for more than twenty years. If you were to ask folks who actually live in rural communities throughout Oregon, you would be informed overwhelmingly that the results of this new conservation economy are dismal at best. In fact, statistics show that the poverty rate in rural Oregon has increased from 12% in 1979 to 17.2% today.

 

Your administration has touted the billions of dollars that have been spent on pet projects throughout the country like broadband and renewable energy. Why not allow communities to identify projects that will best fit their needs locally? Better yet, in these financially strained times, let’s consider removing bureaucratic roadblocks to prosperity and allow the free market to determine the viability of industries, instead of the federal government investing billions of dollars picking the economic winners and losers.

 

Ethanol is one of the best examples of the federal government picking winners and losers. Corn growers definitely have benefited from ethanol subsidies, but livestock growers have seen the costs of their feedstuffs skyrocket.

 

There are also great examples of how public-private partnerships can be successful without federal government funding and bureaucracy. Just look at Powell, Wyoming, which successfully created a community based broadband network without any of the $7.2 billion being offered by the federal government to subsidize broadband development.

 

A critical and often forgotten factor in stimulating America’s rural economy is removing the burdensome regulations placed on communities and businesses throughout the country. Your administration has introduced a litany of rules that only continue to increase the bureaucratic burden on businesses of all sizes and has offered little to no relief or flexibility to businesses trying to meet often over-reaching regulations.

 

Durkee, Oregon is just one rural community caught in the cross hairs of EPA regulations. The town’s largest employer, Ash Grove Cement (116 employees), is facing possible closure despite investing $20 million in retrofits to control airborne mercury emissions. EPA has proposed new airborne emission standards for mercury that are below the natural background levels and beyond levels which technology can economically address in this area. Without an exception to the proposed rule, the business will have to shut down, eliminating a significant number of full-time family wage jobs. There are numerous other examples of egregious, overly restrictive regulations forced upon rural communities by a multitude of federal agencies which greatly diminish market opportunities for businesses.

 

Last, but most important to Oregon and to the stabilization of our rural economy, 53 percent of our land is owned by the federal government. The federal government has shifted its land management philosophy from sustainable active management of renewable natural resources to a passive management regimen that has cost our communities thousands of full-time living wage jobs and greatly increased the vulnerability of our forests to disease, pest infestations and devastating wildfires. The negative impacts of federal management decisions (or the lack thereof) on our renewable resources have been destructive to both the environment and rural communities.

 

Whether it is the livestock industry struggling to meet the impossible demands of federal grazing leases, or lumber mills trying to source enough timber to make up for the lost volume no longer coming from the federal forests — all of Oregon has been impacted. In fact, 31 out of 36 counties in Oregon receive funds from the federal welfare program for counties known as the Rural Secure Schools Act. These funds are provided to counties in a dismal attempt to offset the economic impact on county government (not individuals or businesses) due to the lack of management and bureaucratic entanglement of federal lands in Oregon. Local governments, business and citizens alike would prefer to be self-sufficient, but that is unlikely to happen unless the federal government liquidates its land holdings or begins to actively manage its natural resource assets.

 

While facing this recession, there is no better time for the federal government to stop frivolously spending money choosing economic winners and losers and to begin looking at how it could remove regulatory burdens that would free citizens and businesses to rethink free market opportunities and invest in their own future.

 

Daniel Kemmis wrote in This Sovereign Land: “…[P]eople who live and work, raise their families and build their communities, on a particular landscape cannot be and will never be persuaded by any amount of purely legal reasoning that people who have no such dependence on or knowledge of those landscapes should have an equal say in their governance.” Rural communities like Burns or Enterprise, Oregon would welcome the opportunity to host a listening session and tour for the White House Rural Council to reveal opportunities which would allow them to control their own destiny and once again flourish.

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Karla talks Attack of the 50ft Environmentalist on I Spy on Salem

On the June 4, 2011 episode of I Spy on Salem, Karla joins the show to examine Oregon’s lack of timber harvesting.  You can listen to her appearance on the right.  Below is the information from the show:

Listen to Karla Kay Edwards, Rural Policy and Land Use for Cascade Policy Institute, and Rex Storm, Forest Policy Manager for Associated Oregon Loggers discuss (what we titled our show) The Attack of the 50-foot Environmentalist. Find out what’s really going on with environmental groups, the industry it’s become, and if logging can be revived.

I Spy on Salem is aired from 11:00 to noon on KYKN 1430 in Salem.  If you’re outside of the Salem listening area you can listen live at www.kykn.com.  Busy Saturday, not a problem because after the show is aired we upload it to our webpagewww.ispyonsalem.com so you can listen at your convenience.

 

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Can the Bureaucratic Knot Be Untangled?

Several well-written articles recently have called for Oregon to once again capitalize on our amazing renewable natural resources. Oregon State Senator David Nelson wrote in an Oregonian editorial, “This state has every natural advantage over its neighboring competitors, and a pioneering and ingenious people who know how to work hard and capitalize on opportunity.” But the likelihood of Oregon ever being able to once again use our natural resources as an economic competitive advantage is dependent on our ability to untangle the bureaucratic and legal knots present at every level of government. This will have to be done before we lose our remaining infrastructure and practical experience necessary to once again make them an economic stalwart in our state. With such a matted mess, how and where do we begin?

The snarl of bureaucratic strings is the result of 50 years of methodical actions by environmentalists to tie up any opportunities to create an economic foundation based on renewable resources. Year after year we have watched as new environmental regulations have been implemented at both the federal and the state levels. These strings have been knitted into a paralyzing process that essentially makes it impossible to craft management decisions affecting our public lands. This inevitably forces critical management decisions to be made by the judicial system which can look only at the individual legal knot that has been challenged, not at the impact to renewable resources as a whole. It is this purposely created bureaucratic knot that is strangling our resources and our rural communities.

With more than 60% of Oregon’s forestland owned by the federal government, the first step to unraveling this knot must be to prevent more land from being acquired by federal government agencies, including so-called “gifts.” If federal agencies wish to exchange or acquire additional lands, they should be required to identify equal acreage within Oregon to be liquidated. Consolidation of federal lands should only be allowed to move forward if the counties involved agree to the land exchange. Gifts of land to the federal government also should be handled in much the same manner. The first step to accomplishing this would be for the Oregon legislature to amend ORS 272.040 and ORS 272.050, so that forestland acquired by the federal government must receive both state and county government approval.

Focus must be placed on what seems to be the never-ending federal planning conundrum. The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management now appear to have more staff dedicated to forest planning than they have active foresters. This cultural shift from active forest management to paper pushing is disheartening when you observe the dismal condition many of our federal forests are in. There was slight optimism within the forest industry and rural communities before the New Federal Planning rule was released in February 2011, but the new rule as proposed simply replaces one top-heavy bureaucratic process with another of equal complexity. A streamlined system must be put into place so that active management can restore forest health and fire resiliency of our federal forests before we reach the point of no return. This cannot be achieved with passive management and a few scattered thinning projects. Robust active forest management plans can create the healthy forest ecosystem we all envision.

Our federal forests cannot afford to be caught in regulatory and bureaucratic purgatory any longer. The legal and political wrangling with forest plans―like the on again, off again Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR)―move us no closer to accomplishing either side’s objectives. Solutions lie within a combination of all the sciences: environmental, political and social. And most importantly, deference must be given to our state and local communities to develop plans that can truly begin to untangle the bureaucratic mess the federal government has made of our federal forests.

In 1929 Herbert Hoover said: “Our western states have long since passed from their swaddling clothes and are today more competent to manage much more of these affairs than is the Federal Government. Moreover, we must seek every opportunity to retard the expansion of Federal bureaucracy and to place our communities in control of their own destinies….The Federal Government is incapable of adequate administration of matters which require so large a matter of local understanding.”

If only the federal government had heeded that message when it was delivered, perhaps our federal forests would be in better shape today. It was good advice then and is good advice now. We must demand the opportunity to control our federal forests locally, before the massive bureaucratic knot can never be untangled.

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Testimony in Favor of HB 3477: Privatizing State Parks Operations

At the May 24th House General Government and Consumer Protection Committee, Karla Kay Edwards testified in favor of HB 3477. HB 3477 would create a pilot program to contract with private companies to perform State Park operations and maintenance.

Click here to listen to her testimony. Karla Kay Edwards’ testimony begins at 1:36.

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Rural Oregon Is Tired of Being Ignored

A statistic commonly used to highlight the economic hardship Oregonians bear is that Oregonians on average earn 91 cents to every dollar of average earned income nationwide. But that story is even more dramatic for rural Oregonians, who earn a mere 75 cents on the dollar when compared to personal income nationally. Yet, the Oregon legislature has done nothing significant to begin to change this dire situation, despite the fact that bills have been introduced that could help rural economies.

 

The few economic stimulus bills that have worked their way through the system are quite limited and will benefit urban areas far more than rural areas. Bills that could have an immediate and direct benefit to rural areas have been essentially ignored, like bills to allow more water withdrawal from the Columbia River, better management of our state forests, or a pilot project to privatize some management functions of our state parks. Instead of moving these important ideas forward, we have seen the persistent movement of ideas which continue to handicap already depressed economies, like increasing marine reserves or establishing additional unnecessary government imposed natural resource protection programs.

 

Rural Oregon is tired of either being completely ignored by the legislature or told that eco-tourism is the beacon of hope and we should be thrilled with the seasonal minimum wage jobs that have replaced living wage jobs once provided by a thriving renewable natural resource industry.

 

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Karla Testifies on HB 3290 to Allow More Land Use Options for Farmers

On May 10, Karla Kay Edwards testified before the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on HB 3290.

Click here to listen to her testify. Karla’s testimony starts at 45:29.

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Poison Pills vs. Gun Rights

Three common sense firearms bills passed the House of the Oregon Legislature and are now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, they are not only in jeopardy, but there is a possibility they will be amended with “poison pills.”

 

The three bills address very different, yet important, issues. The first makes Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHL) not subject to public records laws except under specific circumstances; the second allows reciprocity to out of state CHL holders; and the third provides a legal means to carry a firearm on a motorcycle, snowmobile or ATV.

 

During recent Senate hearings on these bills, the public was asked to testify on concepts that were not in writing, yet were under consideration as amendments to the bills. One concept was simply stated as “guns on public school grounds.” Another was “access to firearms for persons suffering from mental health issues.” The concepts were not defined or thought out. They are broad, sweeping issues that in no way pertained to the bills under consideration. Currently, these bills have bipartisan support and likely would pass the Senate in their current form. But if they are amended to include any of these concepts, the bills may suffer a quick death even though they address important issues that affect our 2nd Amendment rights.

 

The “poison pill” tactic isn’t new in politics, but it is cowardly. If anti-gun activists have issues they want addressed, they should introduce a bill and go through a legitimate public process, not hide behind political antics.

 

 

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Improving Citizen Access to the Oregon Legislature

Are Oregon citizens able to engage with the legislature in a meaningful way? The flurry of bills and amendments can be overwhelming for a professional lobbyist, so it is easy to understand why a citizen or group of volunteer citizens want to throw up their hands.

 

Tracking a bill in the legislature would seem to be relatively easy with access to the internet. But, as many folks are finding out, it isn’t quite that easy. Once a hearing is scheduled for a bill, a person may have to commute hundreds of miles to Salem to testify. Written testimony can and should be provided on a bill, but actually being present seems to give more deference to an argument. Then, amendments often have been added to the bill that weren’t available on the web, and a citizen’s comments might no longer be pertinent. In fact, with cutoffs approaching, committee members often haven’t even seen amendments before they arrive at the hearing.

 

Many new citizen activist groups are recognizing that for them to be effective at the legislature, they must have someone at the Capitol on a daily basis monitoring activities. Even then, it is difficult to be effective. Small unofficial workgroups of lobbyists may be working on new language for bills that you may or may not be invited to participate in. This can result in amendments being introduced as “compromise language,” even though interested private citizens never saw the language.

 

The Oregon legislature could be more accessible to the average citizen. Here are few ideas that could make great strides in that direction:

 

  • Establish video conference areas around the state for citizens to provide testimony. This is currently being done by the Redistricting Committee, so it is possible. Facilities with this technology already exist at most college facilities throughout the state, so the infrastructure need would be limited.
  • Require all amendments to be posted electronically 24 hours before they can be considered in a work session, and the work session must open a public hearing for comments on those amendments.
  • The number of bills a legislator can introduce should be further limited to three, as well as those introduced on behalf of agencies. However, this has to be well thought-out. The last thing that should be encouraged is large omnibus bills with very general relating clauses.

 

These changes won’t eliminate the power of professional lobbyists, but they would begin to create a more accessible process for citizens. As legislators contemplate rules by which to conduct business at the beginning of each session, they not only should consider how to make the session most productive for the body, but also how to make their process more conducive to citizen participation.

 

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Redistricting Decisions Must Respect Rural Reality

Redistricting decisions made in 2011 will have a significant impact on the future of all Oregonians. If history replays itself, Oregonians in rural areas again may become victims of poorly drawn political districts.

For ten years, rural “communities of interest” have been victims of gerrymandering. The small community of John Day is divided at the only traffic light in all of Grant County. Coastal communities are lumped with interior farmland and bedroom communities which share little to no economic commerce or even a common news source.

The opportunity to change these outcomes is before us. Oregon’s Legislative Redistricting Committee is conducting meetings and asking for input throughout the state. It is up to the citizens to participate and to inform the committee about what works best for their community.

It is imperative that the committee draw district lines that don’t divide common communities of interest. For rural Oregon, that means understanding where folks commonly go to shop, where they get their news, what schools their children attend, and what transportation corridors are used to access these communities. Districts should be drawn in geographically compact and contiguous areas which also recognize natural geographic boundaries.

Despite a seemingly bipartisan effort, the cards are stacked against legislators. The legislature has not successfully drawn districts in sixty years. Oregonians must pay attention and engage in redistricting discussions. If we dislike the outcomes, we must insist on an independent redistricting commission.


Karla Kay Edwards is Rural Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Selling Public Land Could Help Budget Woes

by Karla Kay Edwards

The federal debt limit of $14.29 trillion dollars is projected to be reached between April 15 and May 16 this year. Many argue that the ceiling must be raised or the U.S. will begin to default on debts owed. Others believe the U.S. must cut costs and begin to live within our means. But the U.S. government is now spending three dollars for every two it brings in, so if Congress succeeds in cutting the proposed $100 billion out of the budget, it might relieve federal borrowing for a single month. (more…)

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Karla on Caepla Connections in Canada

Check out Karla talking about the dangers of land use reforms on the Caepla Connections radio program out of Canada.

You can listen by using the player to the right.

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No Property Rights, No Economic Freedom

Karla Kay EdwardsQuickPoint!

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by Karla Kay Edwards

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After nearly forty years, no other state in the Union has adopted statewide land use laws. Yet, Oregonians continue to falsely believe these laws are necessary as they currently exist. An entire generation has not been exposed to the freedoms of property rights, so many Oregonians have no comprehension of what could be accomplished without these laws. They see only the dangers of the unknown. However, a variety of bills filed this session indicate the legislature may be grasping the absurdities of Oregon’s land use system.
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Karla’s Legislative Testimony on Oregon Forest Lands

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

Testimony on HB 2781 Before the House Judiciary Committee

February 14, 2010
by Karla Kay Edwards

Good afternoon, Judiciary Co-Chairs Krieger and Barker and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on HB 2781. My name is Karla Kay Edwards. I am the Rural Policy Analyst for Cascade Policy Institute, a public policy research organization.

HB 2781 takes a huge step toward attempting to take control of Oregon’s own destiny. More than 53% of Oregon’s land mass is in federal ownership and thus off-limits to any kind of private investment. From 2000 to 2010 federal ownership of land in Oregon has increased by 2,515,739 acres, according to Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payment records. The federal government has virtually eliminated commodity production on federal forest and grazing lands and continues to further restrict the uses of these lands. A few recent examples: Secretary of Interior Salazar on December 22 issued Order 3310 to designate wild lands (beyond the Wilderness program already in place) and to protect the wilderness characteristics of a potential 245 million additional acres of lands across the U.S. In addition, there is a movement to establish the Siskiyou Crest National Monument which essentially would put another 600,000 acres off limits for many uses in Oregon. Both of these and many other federal land management decisions in Oregon will further limit the ability to manage these lands for multiple uses and generate any significant economic returns for the communities surrounding these areas. Federal land management decisions coupled with state land use laws have reduced more than 90% of non-urban lands in Oregon to what Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto refers to as “dead capital.”
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Intertwined: Fish Consumption and Water Quality Standards

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has scheduled a series of public workshops in February regarding raising the state’s water quality standards. DEQ proposes to make Oregon’s water quality standards among the toughest in the country. The reason? DEQ argues that the more fish you eat, the more you are exposed to the cumulative effects of toxins in water, and therefore the higher the standard should be for those toxins.

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Living with Wolves and No Right of Protection

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

Living with Wolves and No Right of Protection

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by Karla Kay Edwards

Imagine one day you were told that by law you no longer can lock your home. As you leave your house, two suspicious people are sitting on your front porch. So you get your kitchen broom and shoo them away. But they are still in front of your house on the sidewalk (legally not on your property). You call the police. They file a report and promise to monitor the situation. You eventually have to leave your home to run errands. When you come back, your computer that you use to run your business is gone. While you are confident that the folks you ran off your porch and who witnessed you leaving are the culprits, the police inform you that they found no fingerprints. Therefore, they aren’t sure if you simply misplaced your own computer. (more…)

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A New Look at Oregon Timber Lands

In January, the 112th Congress has the opportunity to make a difference for rural counties suffering from lost timber revenues on federal lands. To do so will take both courage and willingness to look at old problems in new or modified ways. One of the many immediate issues to be addressed is the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS).

In 2008 $477 million was dispersed to pay for schools, roads and other essential services for local communities. This would back-fill lost revenue for counties from declining timber harvests on federal lands. Oregon alone received nearly $134 million that year.
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A Free Market Approach to Sustainability

Karla Kay EdwardsQuickPoint!

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by Karla Kay Edwards

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Using the free market to drive industry change is foreign to many, but it has been proven over time a much more effective way to achieve change than a top-down regulatory approach. Case in point, Walmart recently announced its new sustainable agriculture policy. The business behemoth is the United States’ largest purveyor of groceries, and therefore, one of the largest customers for the agriculture and food processing industries around the world.

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Federal Land Management Agencies Hinder Rural Entrepreneurs

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

Federal Land Management Agencies Hinder Rural Entrepreneurs

by Karla Kay Edwards

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Rural communities throughout Oregon provide a cultural foundation for entrepreneurs. One of the reasons for this is that folks living in rural areas often find it necessary to improvise when solving a problem rather than running to the nearest store. This necessity to maximize available resources generates small business innovations in rural communities. However, it is often government bureaucracy that stifles the commercialization or growth of many of these small businesses.

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O&C Lands: “Living Capital” for Rural Oregon Counties

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

O&C Lands: “Living Capital” for Rural Oregon Counties
By Karla Kay Edwards

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Oregon has been in an economic recession since 2008, but rural Oregon has been struggling for much longer. No single factor can be blamed for the economic downward spiral of rural Oregon, but changes in the management philosophy of our 18 million acres of federal forestlands in Oregon have played a significant part. Many rural communities have been stuck in the conundrum of trying to address chronic high unemployment and poverty without access to significant portions of the abundant renewable natural resources surrounding their communities.

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Measure 76, Just Another Money Grab

Measure 76 will take a law which sunsets in 2014 and turn it into a constitutional amendment reserving in perpetuity 15% of lottery proceeds for water, parks and wildlife programs. Approved in 1998, the original measure was intended to fix a dilapidated park system and improve watersheds throughout Oregon. Today, many of the measure’s original objectives have been accomplished, raising the question of whether any government program can ever end.

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Owls and Grouse and Wolves, Oh My!

Karla Kay Edwards

Cascade Commentary

Owls and Grouse and Wolves, Oh My!
by Karla Kay Edwards

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State and federal endangered species listings have greatly influenced the economies and culture of Oregon’s communities for decades. Ironically, they have had relatively little success in actually influencing the species they want to recover. Still, government agencies refuse to abandon their monocular vision of individual species recovery. Broader policy objectives and market-oriented approaches would allow the integration of management decisions which address multiple species and other surrounding issues that hinder recovery. This can be achieved by returning the power of conservation to local and private entities that are more effective stewards of the environment.

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A Thousand Paper Cuts

Karla Kay Edwards

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by Karla Kay Edwards

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Oregon businesses face death by a thousand paper cuts. When taken independently, individual government regulations might seem fairly innocuous. But when layered with the cumulative regulatory burdens they face, businesses find themselves buried alive by paperwork and fees.

Two cases in point:

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Biomass: Boon or Boondoggle?

Karla Kay Edwards

Cascade Commentary

Biomass: Boon or Boondoggle?
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by Karla Kay Edwards

As Oregon communities struggle through this recession, they are looking for an economic “silver bullet” to help them survive and to become a foundation for future economic prosperity. Renewable energy has been thought to be one of those “silver bullets,” due to Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio mandate and the vast amount of government funds devoted to these energy technologies. With Oregon’s expansive forestlands, woody biomass, at first glance, seems to present an opportunity both to put more people to work in rural communities and to provide a renewable energy source.

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Vote for Hines, Oregon!

Karla Kay Edwards

Vote For Hines Oregon!

By Karla Kay Edwards

The economies of rural Oregon communities have been struggling for years, but the resourcefulness and resiliency of those communities keep them moving forward.

One example of resourcefulness is the volunteer fire department of Hines, Oregon. They have two fire engines with a combined age of 62 years. They desperately need to retire the 1973 fire engine they endearingly refer to as “Barney,” but they are simply unable to raise the $250,000 to replace it. Between the Hines and Burns volunteer fire departments, they cover the entire 10,000+ square miles of Harney County, so needless to say, they need a reliable vehicle to actually cover such a vast area.

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Level Playing Field Equals Loss of Economic Freedoms

Karla Kay Edwards
Cascade Commentary

Level Playing Field Equals Loss of Economic Freedoms 

by Karla Kay Edwards

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An important discussion is taking place in Oregon among counties and agricultural interests regarding regulating activities allowed on farmlands, especially on lands zoned as Exclusive Farm Use (EFU). During the 2010 Special Legislative Session, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1055, which addressed the ability of wineries to sell incidental items and services in conjunction with the winery as long as they do not exceed 25% of on-site sales income.

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Critical Court Rulings Decide 2nd Amendment Rights

Karla Kay Edwards
Cascade Commentary

Critical Court Rulings Decide 2nd Amendment Rights

by Karla Kay Edwards

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Within the past week we have enjoyed a big stride forward in the protection of our Second Amendment rights with the U.S. Supreme Court decision on McDonald v. City of Chicago and suffered one small stride backward in the decision Mail Tribune, Inc. v. Winters by the Oregon Court of Appeals. Both are critical legal decisions for gun rights supporters, but both will be subject to further litigation.

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Hunting for Government Priorities

Karla Kay Edwards
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by Karla Kay Edwards

Hunting for Government Priorities

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Following Oregon’s startling $577 million budget shortfall, state departments must strategically refine and prioritize the core issues they need to address. What sportsmen wear is not one of them. However, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife recently issued a report investigating whether it should mandate that all outdoorsmen wear an observable piece of hunter orange clothing while hunting.

According to the report, bicycling is more dangerous than hunting. 1,351 bicyclists are injured for every 100,000 participants, compared to just 5 injuries per 100,000 hunting participants. Yet, bicyclists over age sixteen are not required by law to wear a helmet or reflective clothing. Cyclists are given the liberty to make those decisions themselves.

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Redistricting – Partisan Power Grab

Karla Kay Edwards
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by Karla Kay Edwards

Redistricting – Partisan Power Grab

Partisan politics makes great news headlines but usually doesn’t lead to sound policy decisions. The redrawing of Oregon’s legislative districts, known as redistricting, is currently a very partisan process carried out by Oregon’s legislators after each U.S. Census. The redistricting process supersedes all elections and can define Oregon’s future policy path toward more government and taxes or toward free enterprise and liberty.

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Opportunity Knocks with Redistricting

Karla Kay Edwards
Cascade Commentary

Opportunity Knocks with Redistricting

by Karla Kay Edwards

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It is obvious from the voting results of Measures 66 and 67 (and of several other recent ballot measures) that constituents in most rural counties have different ideas about taxation and the role of government than do residents of counties with a larger urban population. Many are frustrated and concerned that the voices of rural communities always will fail to be heard.

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QuickPoint! – Statewide Open Houses Promote a Water Future for Oregon

Karla Kay Edwards QuickPoint!

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by Karla Kay Edwards

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Statewide Open Houses Promote a Water Future for Oregon

Water is an economic driver in all communities. Taking a hard look at Oregon’s water resources and today’s economic, social and ecological demands is important. Most surface waters are fully allocated in the summertime. In many areas groundwater basins face diminishing supplies.

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The Diversity of Rural Oregon Communities

Karla Kay Edwards
Cascade Commentary

The Diversity of Rural Oregon Communities

by Karla Kay Edwards

The differences between Oregon’s rural and urban communities are obvious, but the diversity among rural communities often goes unrecognized. Describing rural communities involves considering both geographic and social characteristics. Geographically, Oregon is divided by the Coastal and the Cascade mountain ranges, running north and south, which create three physical regions: the coastal area, the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon. Each region includes vast tracts of federally owned land that have an impact on natural resources and economic drivers available to communities in each area. For example, in a recent economic study by Forest2Market, Inc., privately owned forestlands in Oregon contribute $382 per acre to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), versus federal forestlands’ contribution of just $67 per acre. Considering that 59% of Oregon forestlands are federally owned, federal forestland holdings have a significant impact on wealth creation and jobs in rural communities. Rural communities insufficient ability to generate wealth also hinders their ability to comply with state government mandates.

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Land-Poor, Cash-Poor

Karla Kay Edwards QuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint3-10-10Karla.mp3]

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Farmers often have been land-rich and cash-poor. Today, the downturn in the real estate market has made Oregon farmers both land-poor and cash-poor; and they are feeling the pinch of what that truly means.

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Klamath Restoration Agreement Makes Water Rights a Water Sport

Karla Kay Edwards
Cascade Commentary

Klamath Restoration Agreement Makes Water Rights a Water Sport

By Karla Kay Edwards

Summary: The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement signed on February 18, 2010 will critically impact the way water rights are determined in Oregon. With so many victims of the process, the one-sided adulation by the Governors of Oregon and California, as well as others present at the signing ceremony in the state capitol rotunda, is disheartening.

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The Citizen Lawsuit Racket

Karla Kay Edwards QuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint 2-03-10.mp3]

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Throughout the Northwest, even a small timber sale is rarely completed without first being challenged by a citizen’s lawsuit filed by an environmental organization. These lawsuits, with legal fees from both sides typically paid by taxpayers, have stifled the management of our public lands. Billions of private and tax dollars are spent by private entities and government agencies to defend sound management decisions that may or may not have been tripped up by technical errors or missed deadlines.

Eric Hoffer once said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and then a racket.” Citizen lawsuits are the critical tool that has allowed the environmental movement to become a racket. According to research done by Budd-Falen Law Offices from 2003-2007, more than $4.7 billion were paid to environmental law firms by federal agencies using our tax dollars.

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Water Storage Can Provide Many Benefits

Karla Kay Edwards
QuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint 12-16-09.mp3]

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Water is the lifeblood of the Oregon economy.  Whether it’s the water that turns the turbines to generate clean and cheap energy, acts as the essential nutrient for agricultural commodities, or provides a multitude of recreational opportunities and environmental essentials— water is needed for every aspect of our lives and economy.  Yet, Oregon continues to pass bills like HB 3369 which allowed one storage project to move forward while creating huge hurdles for any new proposed projects to clear. This can lead to the stifling of opportunities to store water at favorable times and create efficiencies within various water uses. (more…)

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Counties Should Rezone Rural Land

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

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Summary: HB 2229 will allow counties throughout the state to take a fresh look at their designation of agriculture and forestry lands. Before that happens, there needs to be further consideration of all the elements needed for commercial agriculture and forestry to be viable. Soil type is not the only thing upon which to base a land designation. (more…)

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$80,000 to Live on Your Own Farm?

Karla Kay EdwardsQuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint 11-18-09.mp3]

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Oregon is a leader in the “buy local food” movement, and buying fresh produce from local farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) could become an even stronger trend in our state. People not only want to know where their food is coming from, but they also like the fact that they are supporting the local rural economy. (more…)

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Concealed Handgun Case Should Be Decided by the Court, Not the Legislature

Karla Kay EdwardsQuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint 10-21-09.mp3]

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The state and federal courts are currently considering important gun control issues with practical implications for Oregonians’ Second Amendment rights.

In June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment applies directly to an individual’s right to bear arms. However, the decision did not clarify whether states and other government entities can limit those rights. The Court will hear a case early next year that could determine what, if any, limits can be put on our Second Amendment rights. (more…)

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Economic Opportunity Grows with Woody Biomass

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

Summary: Woody biomass opportunities abound in rural southern Oregon. With more than 4.25 million acres of timberland that would benefit from hazardous fuel reduction, rural communities also could prosper from the development of a significant biomass industry. (more…)

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We Depend On Rural Oregon

Karla Kay EdwardsQuickPoint!

[audio:QuickPoint 9-16-09.mp3]

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Oregon’s rural economies are based on renewable natural resources susceptible to economic volatility. They are also reliant upon the political will of the urban populations they serve. Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between people’s emotional response to a natural resource policy question and the impacts those policy decisions will have on both rural communities and urban consumers. (more…)

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Wisdom in the Balance: Adaptive Management on State Forests

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

The Oregon State Board of Forestry recently reviewed and revised the 2001 management plans for the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forest. Part of the Northwest Forest Management Plan, these plans call for the use of “adaptive management”: a systematic, rigorous approach for learning from actions taken, improving management and accommodating change. “Adaptive management” has been an environmental mantra for more than two decades. But when it is used to an end that isn’t to environmental activists’ liking, they consider it corrupt decision-making. (more…)

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“Undesignated” Lands Can Meet Unforeseen Needs

Karla EdwardsQuickPoint!

Metro, along with Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties, is nearing the end of a complicated planning process to designate urban and rural reserves for the next fifty years. But how do counties who have been struggling with identifying areas for growth and preservation over the next fifty years make an educated decision? (more…)

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Economic Freedom for Rural Oregon

Karla Kay EdwardsCascade Commentary

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Summary: Cascade Policy Institute announces the establishment of the Rural Oregon Freedom Project. Cascade will work with rural communities and the state legislature to remove barriers inhibiting rural economic opportunity and to advance balanced and creative approaches to rural community issues. (more…)

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Timber Jobs: Jeopardy or Opportunity?

[audio:QuickPoint 5-27-09.mp3]

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karla kay edwardsQuickPoint!

In today’s economy everyone is looking for ways to create jobs and increase revenues. That includes Senator Ron Wyden, who has drafted the Oregon Forest Restoration and Old Growth Protection Act, which would manage Oregon’s federally owned forests tree by tree instead of as a sustainable landscape. Though his goal to improve forest health while providing jobs in our rural communities is well intentioned, it will only create more bureaucracy while jeopardizing forest health and our rural communities’ livelihoods. (more…)

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