A deal is a deal'
Walden bill would restore fair compensation in Cascade-Siskiyou wilderness plan
Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today announced he will introduce as soon as next week legislation to set aside 24,100 acres in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument as protected wilderness. The bill will closely mirror legislation introduced by Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), but will restore a cornerstone provision that is now conspicuously missing from the Senate bill after it was amended today.
That missing language includes the deal reached between environmentalists and ranchers to fully compensate ranchers for giving up their grazing leases before wilderness is established. Congressman Walden's bill would put that agreement, which was reached at the beginning of this process, back in legislative writing.
"Where I grew up, a handshake is as good as a contract. In Washington, D.C., I've learned that you better get it in writing," Walden said. "I've found out the hard way that if you don't have a guarantee in writing, it likely won't happen. By including a guarantee for full compensation, we will ensure that the wilderness and the buyouts reach the finish line at the same time."
"I don't want a pivotal party to this agreement to fall prey to a bait and switch. I want a square deal," Walden said.
The language providing federal funds to compensate ranchers for voluntarily giving up their rights to grazing leases that was originally included in the Smith/Wyden bill (S. 2379) was stripped during a Senate markup today.
Walden's bill will also make clear a deal between the conservation community and ranchers that private funds will help pay for the grazing buyouts.
"Unfortunately, a deal is not always a deal in the nation's capital," Walden said. "That's why I'm willing to go it alone to get it done right. It's important to me that everyone gets a fair shake, that promises are put in writing, and that we produce a solid law that creates a wonderful piece of wilderness for generations of Oregonians to come."
Attached to this release is a side-by-side comparison of the Senate bill and Congressman Walden's bill.