WE'RE NOT QUITE OUT OF WOODS ON DROUGHT

February 27, 2002 11:00 pm

Oregons dry side is living up to its name.

Most of the time Eastern Oregonians take pride in the fact that we dont share the west sides over-abundance of water that falls from the sky between October and May. For the past two winters weve had more dryness than we need, although in our area this winter has been much better than last. Still, when it comes to talk of drought, were not out of the woods yet.

Our region is much better off than our neighbors to the east. While the snowpack in the Grande Ronde River Basin is about average and the all-important water content is above average, the Snake River Basin is hurting and fearing another drought year. In the mountains upstream of Brownlee Reservoir the snowpack is slightly above 80 percent of normal, and precipitation in February was only 6 percent of normal. A different situation exists on the west side, where Mount Hoods snowpack is at 153 percent of normal and the Willamette River Basin is at 142 percent. The end of the drought appears imminent in the Willamette Valley, but those of us on the dry side need to keep the conservation lessons weve learned over the past year in mind. Saving water and energy remain important goals.

The good news is that March often brings snow to the higher elevations. As much as most of us are ready for spring, we need to hope that Old Man Winter sticks around a while longer in the higher elevations. A wet spring might be frustrating, but the importance of water in all of our lives cannot be understated.

This year, Eastern Oregon needs all the water it can get.

STRONG CANDIDATE

The community seemed relieved, and rightfully so, when Eastern Oregon University President Phil Creighton removed his name from consideration for open presidencies at three other universities around the country. Those universities learned what our community has discovered since Creighton started at Eastern in 1998. Creighton has spurred Eastern to reach for more than what it had been satisfied to receive in the past, and hes helped strengthen the universitys standing with and in the community. Naturally, other universities presidential recruiters came calling. More will be doing so in the future. One of these days one of them might pique his interest.

Higher education in Oregon needs to keep a man of Creightons energy, vision, leadership and dedication to quality education. Creighton has meant a great deal to Eastern and the community. He could also bring a lot to the university if he were to become the next chancellor of the Oregon University System.

For the sake of higher education in Oregon, and for Eastern and our community, we can only hope that he is among the candidates seeking to succeed Joe Cox. A Creighton chancellorship would be good for Oregon.