EDITORIAL: A good trade-off package

Written by Observer editorial December 23, 2013 10:16 am

Though he might not get the kind of credibility he sometimes deserves in the staunchly conservative Republican enclave that is Eastern Oregon, Sen. Ron Wyden’s bill to boost timber production deserves some praise.

Of course praise isn’t exactly what some conservation groups and timber advocates delivered once Wyden’s bill was approved by the U.S. Senate recently.

One conservation group called into question edicts of the bill that would cut old-growth timber to pay for restoration projects while a pro-timber faction objected the bill won’t produce enough logs.

At its essence the legislation is designed to do a number of different things at once. It is slated to boost timber production in six national forests in Eastern Oregon while, at the same time, ensuring restoration and thinning ventures go forward.

If one is a timber advocate the bill probably doesn’t go far enough. If one subscribes to the multitude of conservation and environmental groups that assert jurisdiction across the West — and especially in timber country — the legislation probably doesn’t quite fit the bill either.

Compromise is not about allowing every special interest group to secure what it wants. Compromise is the fundamental building block of our Democracy — or least it was. The saga of our Constitution is very much about compromise between our Founding Fathers. Not everyone received what they wanted when the Constitution was crafted and ratified. Yet astute politicians — the kind of lawmaker that appears to be sadly an extinct species in our modern era — found a middle ground so the business of the nation — and its people — could move forward.

Wyden, as a Democrat, is probably never going to gain the kind of standing he deserves in a largely Republican region as Eastern Oregon, but even the most die-hard conservative can recognize a good
compromise.

The timber bill is exactly that. A good compromise package, and Wyden deserves a great deal of credit for shepherding the legislation through the halls of Congress.