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An Open Letter to Gov. Kate Brown on Ditch Cleaning

1 Aug

Dear Governor Kate Brown,

I know it’s been a trying legislative session, and I know that you’re work here in Oregon is never really on a break.  But today I’m writing to ask you to please sign HB 2437, the ditch cleaning bill that was passed this session.  This bill is so vitally important to farmers and landowners in Oregon.

My land is part of G.A. Miller Drainage District, district #1 in Oregon.  It’s been functioning since 1901.  This ditch was hand dug and runs about 5 miles in the St. Paul area.  We have been maintaining these drainage ditches to protect our farmland for 118 years.

Here is a short video of how we do this and why.

This past winter, after two years of working with Department of State Lands, I was asked, along with other stakeholders to participate in a legislative work group to find solutions.  The current system, it wasn’t working and I have yet to find anyone that will disagree with that.  So EVERYONE came to the table.  Environmental groups, fish groups, farmers, university specialists, legislators, land owners, EVERYONE!  And we all worked hours and hours and hours to find compromise, something that would work for everyone.  Not one group got everything they asked for.  Not one group walked out of those meetings thinking they nailed it.  EVERYONE compromised to find a SOLUTION that would help not only the problem at hand but continue to make solutions better for the state of Oregon and protect our lands; wetlands and farmland alike.

The bill that came out of all that work was on a path to success.  Because of all that work and support from Rep. Susan McLain, Rep. David Brock Smith, and Rep Brian Clem, it passed the House and the Senate with amazing bi-partisan support.  And now it sits on your desk Governor Brown.  So I’m writing today to ask that you please sign this bill.

This is good legislation that was put through a robust process in the Capitol.  We need tools to protect our land, tools that have been used for over 100 years here in this state.  I believe that by signing this bill you are assuring that more research will be done, we will learn even more about best practices for ditch cleaning and maintenance, and you will protect wetlands and farmlands in the process.  Please don’t take this tool away from us and please sign House Bill 2437.

Thank you.
Sincerely,

Brenda Frketich

 

***Please click here to also send a letter to Gov. Kate Brown.  She needs to hear how important this tool is for all landowners and farmers!  As always please share and if you have any questions just let me know!  Thank you!

Natural Resources Rally at the Capitol 2019

3 Jul

The rally will go down to some, depending on the article that you read, as a terrorist gathering, a group of mostly bearded men, a few tractors and trucks, a few hundred people.

But for those of us who were actually there.  Those of us who listened to the speakers and talked to the attendees, we are the ones who will remember what it was really like.

It was a peaceful gathering, one of the most respectful events ever held of that size.  There were men and women, families even, who came to show their support.  There were hundreds of trucks and tractors and thousands of people.  Signs saying, “If you bought it, a TRUCK brought it!”  People from the Natural Resource Industry were gathering to be heard!  There was respectfulness, there was impact, we were a force!  But also there was no trash left behind, no trace of demonstrators at the end of the day.   We showed true rural hospitality as we simultaneously STORMED the Capitol. We heard from loggers and farmers, men and women, who would have been devastated by House Bill 2020.  We heard from leaders in our natural resources industry, including legislators, who were so excited to see the rural population show up!  We were there to stand up for standing up!!  We showed our support our Senators who walked out, to tell them that we understand and we are with them.  11 Senators whose bold actions and courage extended to all of us, giving us the courage to do the same!I know I’ll never forget that Sunday I got a phone call from a neighbor telling me that “a few” farmers were heading to the capitol and they needed…honestly at that point we weren’t sure what was needed…but would I be willing to help?  My first answer was no; it’s harvest, we are all swamped and working 24 hour days.  But by Monday morning I found myself on a text thread with loggers, timber unity folks, farmers who wanted to do this, wanted to go big, wanted to show up and rally.  In just four short days this grass roots team mobilized and organized and brought together people from across the state to the Capitol steps.  This is just a brief preview of the rally taken from Farm Bureau. Search #timberunity for more great coverage of the rally.

Here is a full video of the entire program that day!

I’ve driven to the Capitol building probably at least a hundred times to come and testify in the past 13 years, but when we drove up early that Thursday morning, the streets of Salem already lined with log trucks and tractors, it was completely overwhelming.  Matt looked at me that morning and said, “Remember 4 days ago when you didn’t know if you all could ever pull this off, when your answer was no?  I mean look at this babe, look what you all have done in such a short period of time.” There are many of us who have waited for our industry here in Oregon to wake up and show up, and this became a moment that was more than we could have ever dreamed.  But I do hope it’s not just a moment in time, I hope the momentum of being involved continues.  This is what we need in order to be heard, and I know people see that now.  I still can’t quite believe we pulled it off.  And there’s too many people to thank to list them all here.  But you all know who you are and a true thank you for helping to make this all possible.

I’ll leave you with this….

“There is an undeniable and noble calling to take care of the earth, but this bill will not help the earth and only hurts all of us. I see fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers all around me. You all steward the natural world through farming, ranching and forestry. It’s time we stand up for each other and the earth.”

-Tiffany Harper, farmer and woodland owner from Junction City, Oregon.

Why I’m Supporting the Walk Out

20 Jun

The big news today from the Capital might seem bigger than normal; today all Republican Senators are nowhere to be seen.  They have walked out in a last ditch effort to stop not only an unconstitutional bill, but one that would devastate Oregonians.  I’m talking about House Bill 2020 regarding Cap & Trade.  You can read more regarding my concerns with this bill here.  And what this bill will cost you as an Oregonian here.

I testified against this bill in the very early stages of session.  Now, as the end of session is looming, the stakes, along with blood pressures, are rising, and the hope that voices are heard seems to be a pipe dream.  The lack of communication and team work around this legislation is part of why I am supporting our senators.  Not to mention, Senate Republicans standing up and saying that they won’t comply with an action that is clearly unconstitutional (trying to avoid 3/5 vote requirement) is something worth a “walk out”.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, it isn’t even the first time it’s happened this session actually.  Historically though it is interesting to note that In 2001, House Democrats, then in the minority, walked out for a partisan political issue.  While Senate Republicans today have left in an effort to protect our economy from the disastrous deal on cap and trade, in 2001, Democrats left simply to give themselves a political advantage.

The Democrat walk out in 2001 was very important however….if it weren’t for their walkout then, we very likely wouldn’t have had a walk out today.  Their walk out changed the course of our state in a way that benefited only the Democrats.  They circumvented the political process that would have allowed the House and Senate, then controlled by Republicans, to pass a redistricting plan.  Because they walked out, the Democrat Secretary of State crafted one of the most politically motivated redistricting plans possible, allowing Democrats to take control of both chambers.

Governor Kate Brown, who in 2001 was Senate Democrat Leader, called the House Democrats’ actions “very appropriate under the circumstances.” She continued, “Under certain circumstances, it’s fair to say we would use all tools available to us, and stage a similar boycott.”

Senator Mark Hass at the time said, “I don’t think standing up for fairness and protecting the constitution is something we need to hide from.”

If Democrats thought it was justified for their colleagues to walkout over a partisan political battle, surely they should support Republicans walking out to protect Oregonians from the illegal passage of the cap and trade bill that will destroy the economy of our state.

And as an Oregon farmer and business owner I am in full support of the walk out!  It may just seem like the drama just started, but believe me when I tell you that this story is longer than just today, and longer than just the 2019 session.  This bill is clearly an illegal tax-raising measure (trying to do so without a super-majority vote), Democrats have done everything possible to circumvent the process and in the process have left the hands of Republicans tied.  The only thing left to do was walk out.

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