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Don’t tarnish Oregon’s pioneer spirit

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

Oregonians sometimes forget how we got here. The Oregon Trail was an important predecessor of today’s Interstate Highway System. From 1841 to 1869 at least 80,000 pioneers walked beside covered wagons from Missouri to Oregon. They traveled over mountains, across deserts, and forded raging rivers to build a new life for themselves and their families in the open west. Some never made it, dying along the way.

Now, a bill before the legislature would tarnish their legacy. Senate Bill 823 would prohibit any development, or even remodeling of existing buildings, along the 300 mile route of the Oregon Trail from the Idaho border to The Dalles.

The Oregon Trail was all about progress, opportunity, and the right to own and control one’s own property. In short, it was all about freedom.

The pioneers wanted freedom from the very kinds of government regulation that this bill would impose. If the intent of the bill is to preserve an important part of Oregon’s history, that could be done by protecting select segments of the Trail.

But if this bill becomes law, it will add a dark chapter to the Trail’s history. It will tell future generations that we turned our backs on some of the very values the pioneers risked their lives to achieve along the Oregon Trail.

Oregon is still part of America, the land of the free. Let’s keep it that way by preserving the right of those living along the Oregon Trail to use their property as they wish.

Steve Buckstein is the Senior Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

© 2007, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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