I’ve watched the yearly ebb and flow of Union County nearly my entire life. I’ve come to realize it comes with uncertainty, weather dictating my neighbor's crop yields, tourist dollars our communities rely on and the annual return of Chinook and steelhead to the Grande Ronde.
With uncertainty I get a bit anxious, as we all should. Uncertainty and change are hard. As the owner of a business, Alpine Archery and Fly, I’m constantly asking myself if my inventory will move. Will I meet my sales goals and turn a profit? As a small business owner I need a profit to survive. I see the same uncertainty everywhere I look in our community.
Our communities deserve better and should demand more. We have more in common with river communities throughout Idaho’s Snake River basin than you think. If not for a politically drawn line dividing us, most would identify Eastern Oregon’s culture with Idaho’s. The entire Snake Basin, including Union County, is in a constant state of uncertainty.
In early February, Idaho’s Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, released a large, all-encompassing proposal to rebuild Northwest infrastructure and return healthy runs of salmon and steelhead — a proposal that will literally impact every community in the Northwest. Simpson is a conservative from Idaho with a long history of standing up for hunting, fishing and conservation. Simpson’s concept can benefit Oregonians.
This is an opportunity to set aside decades of community infighting, some being winners, other losers. The congressman from Idaho took the priorities of the region into consideration, farming, fish and power all leading to new and renewed economic development, while restoring an icon of the Northwest: our salmon and steelhead.
But we need our Oregon delegation to step out and lead like Rep. Simpson. We need Sen. Wyden, Sen Merkley or Rep. Bentz to join Rep. Simpson and craft legislation that helps our communities in Eastern Oregon. We need them to sit at the table with Simpson and represent us, providing certainty for our ag community, electricity market, and especially our wild salmon and steelhead.
As spring bounds in, I’m optimistic we will see change. Change that once and for all will make our communities whole, providing economic and biological certainty to all in Eastern Oregon. I’m optimistic that our Northwest delegation will show the leadership we elected them for and join the congressman from Idaho to benefit Oregon.