U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 2059
Dear Secretary LaHood:
Heavy rains coupled with an already wet spring in eastern Oregon have wreaked havoc on private property and public land in Baker, Union, and Wallowa counties. The flooding has damaged homes, farms, and destroyed multiple bridges in Baker County.
Aside from the damage to private property, the loss of an important road in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is particularly troubling. Forest Service Road 39, also known as the Wallowa Mountain Loop Road, serves as the main thoroughfare between Baker County and Wallowa County was washed out several locations--in at least one section over 500 feet was lost.
As a segment of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, the road is a major tourism corridor for the region, and an important part of the region's economy during the spring and summer months for Baker and Wallowa counties. In fact, the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners deemed the loss of the road enough of a threat to the regional economy that they will soon declare a state of emergency in Wallowa County.
I wanted to alert you to the likelihood of the U.S. Forest Service pursuing Relief for Federally Owned Roads funds from your agency. Swift repair to the road and returning it to passable condition as soon as possible is of critical important to the rural economies in eastern Oregon.
Please let me know how I can be of assistance in this matter.
Member of Congress