Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, April 21, 2017, Page 6, Image 6

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Editorials are written by or
approved by members of the
Capital Press Editorial Board.
April 21, 2017
All other commentary pieces are
the opinions of the authors but
not necessarily this newspaper.
Editorial Board
Managing Editor
John Perry
Joe Beach
Carl Sampson Online:
Oregon’s $1 billion fish plan shouldn’t cost Idaho
Fish passage dispute
Idaho agricultural leaders are reacting to Oregon’s plan to reintroduce
endangered steelhead and salmon above the Hells Canyon Complex
of dams as a condition of relicensing of the project.
Project Area
Eagle Cap
9,595 ft.
Area in
Id a
from the governor down. More
than a decade ago, former Gov.
John Kitzhaber said Oregon had
spent more than $1 billion on fi sh.
Who knows what the total is now.
According to the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, in 2014,
the most recent year for which
fi gures are available, Oregon,
Idaho and Washington and federal
government spent $357 million on
endangered Columbia and Snake
River salmon and steelhead.
By our lights, that’s more than
enough. We look at that sum
and wonder what else could be
accomplished that would benefi t
people instead of fi sh.
We can’t explain Oregon
leaders’ obsession with fi sh, but we
do know that whatever they plan
to do, the cost shouldn’t fall to the
people of Idaho.
reasons to question the plan.
If fi sh are reintroduced
upstream from the dams, Idaho
Power would have to provide
them with transportation up- and
downstream, around the dams
as they migrate to and from the
Pacifi c Ocean. In addition, Idaho
water users such as irrigators
would have to adjust the river’s
water quality and temperature to
sustain the fi sh. That’s being done,
but not on Oregon’s schedule.
The estimated pricetag: $1
billion, give or take a few hundred
million, that would be paid by
Idaho water users, electricity rate
payers and others.
It’s hard to express how cock-
eyed the Oregon plan is. That
Oregon’s leaders want more fi sh
is OK. Fish are apparently the top
priority of every Oregon offi cial,
Sn a
he state of Oregon has a
plan that could cost Idaho
farmers, electricity rate
payers and others a bundle of
The plan — to reintroduce
salmon and steelhead in Pine
Creek, a tributary of the Snake
River — is part of Oregon’s draft
Clean Water Act proposal. The
plan spans 20 years and, depending
on how it works out, could expand
to include adding fi sh to other
The plan is Oregon’s
contribution to Idaho Power’s
efforts to renew the federal
license for its three dams on the
Snake River, which runs along
the Oregon-Idaho border in Hells
Idaho farmers and other
ratepayers say they have a billion
5 miles
Alan Kenaga/Capital Press
With fewer farm
laborers, is
Era dawning?
For the Capital Press
Wolf plan hearing should
be in northeastern Oregon
he Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Commission has scheduled
two public hearings on an
updated wolf management plan.
Many ranchers in wolf country
would counter that state wildlife
officials have in reality updated
their plan to manage cattle
producers. And it seems they’re
doing it a bit far from where
wolves and people most often
Oregon’s wolf population has
grown steadily in the decade
since the first wolves migrated
from Idaho into Northeast
Oregon. In 2011 there were only
23. The state visually documented
112 wolves at the end of 2016,
according to ODFW’s annual
report. At the end of 2015,
Oregon had 110 confirmed
ODFW officials have described
Oregon’s wolf population growth
as a biological success story, and
the state commission took wolves
off the state endangered species
list in 2015.
They remain protected under
the federal Endangered Species
Act in areas west of U.S.
highways 395, 78 and 95. That’s
most of the state.
We have generally agreed that
wolves have a place in Oregon’s
wild country. Oregon is a big
place, with room for native
wildlife and domestic livestock.
But we’ve been equally
adamant that ranchers should
have reasonable leeway to take
action against wolves when non-
lethal actions aimed at keeping
them away from livestock don’t
work. That’s not the case in the
current plan, and less so in the
proposed update.
Instead, ODFW has proposed
raising the bar.
The commission plans hearings
on the updated plan at its next
two regularly scheduled meetings.
The first is April 21 in Klamath
Falls, an area of the state that
only recently started to report
some wolf activity. The second
will be May 19 in Portland, where
there have been no wolves for
The commission has
received quite a few letters
from Portlanders who write
passionately about their desire
that wolves go completely
unmolested in the state. They
argue that the wolves, as property
of the state, belong just as much
to them as Eastern Oregon
That’s true. But while the
Willamette River belongs to
all Oregonians, discussions on
its restoration are never held in
It seems to us that
commissioners would want
to make it easier to hear from
people for whom wolves are
not an abstract attraction. We
can assure them that there is no
lack of diversity of opinion on
wolves, even in the far reaches of
Wallowa County, where livestock
depredation is common.
Paraphrasing a member of
Oregon’s wolf management team,
the ultimate success of wolves in
Oregon requires their widespread
acceptance in those areas where
they most come in contact with
human activity. For now, that’s
ranching country.
That’s where the wolves will
be managed. Perhaps that’s where
the plan should get a hearing.
For decades, the U.S. ag-
riculture industry has lobbied
hard for more non-immigrant
guestworker visas to help
harvest its crops. Ag leaders
and their congressional rep-
resentatives argue, with some
truth, that no matter the wage,
Americans won’t do fi eld
But for just as many years,
immigration reduction propo-
nents counter that the solu-
tion isn’t importing poverty
in the form of more cheap
labor visas, but to mechanize
ag operations, done effective-
ly worldwide.
The moment of truth is at
hand, and the world’s bread-
basket, California, is strug-
gling to fi nd its way in the
new reality. Because Presi-
dent Donald Trump promised
to enforce immigration laws,
some of last year’s farmwork-
ers may have been removed.
And illegal Southwest bor-
der crossings that might have
included future ag workers
have dropped 60 percent
since President Trump’s inau-
More H-2A ag visas,
growers’ default remedy to
the perceived labor shortage,
is a temporary but fl awed fi x.
However, high immigra-
tion, both through the legal
H-2A visa or illegal entry,
discourages mechanization,
the long-term solution, and
diminishes productivity. A re-
cent Los Angeles Times story
highlighted the growers’ di-
lemma and underscored the
fact that the most effi cient
resolution to labor shortages is
For most growers, the
Mechanization Era is at hand.
A San Joaquin Valley grape
grower told Times reporters
that when he couldn’t afford
to raise his pay scale, he spent
$50,000 on equipment, which
allowed him to cut his crew,
and saved him $80 an acre cull-
ing his crop.
Mechanization also has
been a boon to other crop grow-
ers. When Arizona passed laws
that penalized employers who
Joe Guzzardi
hired illegal immigrants, a ja-
lapeño pepper grower invested
$2 million in a stem-removing
machine. With the money he
saved, he hired skilled laborers
at higher wages, and improved
his productivity.
A Georgia onion grower
bought a harvester and cut his
workforce from 100 to 10,
and a Vermont dairy now uses
robots to milk its cows. The
robots weigh the cows, take
their temperatures and check
their milk for infections. The
dairy owner said that his robots
beat the humans “all the way
around,” including eliminating
the possibility of a midnight
call from immigration authori-
ties advising that his workforce
won’t be showing up the next
Despite mechanization’s ef-
fi ciency, many in Congress and
the Chamber of Commerce are
unwilling to let go of the H-2A
visa that often prevents Amer-
icans without a high school
degree from getting a job. Last
year, about 5,000 H-2A visas
were unused during FY 2015,
and a group of 32 U.S. senators
want them added to the current
66,000 annual cap.
But with President Trump
in the White House at least
until 2020, the endless cheap
labor supply may complete-
ly dry up. Growers would
be better advised to consider
cost- and time-saving mecha-
nization rather than lobbying
Congress to artifi cially ma-
nipulate the H-2A visa cap.
For its part, Congress should
use its infl uence to encourage
growers to enter the 21st cen-
Joe Guzzardi is a senior
writing fellow with Califor-
nians for Population Stabi-
lization, a nonprofi t focused
on stabilizing the population
to preserve the environment
and ensure a good quality of
life for all. Contact him at
and follow him on Twitter @
Readers’ views
Renewable Fuels
Standard is good
for Oregon
Whether it’s for cattle or crops,
farmers and ranchers have been
on the forefront of conservation.
Many frontline harvesters of the
land and sea are also leading ef-
forts to find new ways to culti-
vate and care for soil and water,
fisheries and farmland. Partner-
ships, like the Renewable Fuels
Standard, between the agriculture
community and the alternative en-
ergy industry show the valuable
opportunities that can arise when
we all come together.
Confronting our environmental
problems requires us to remember
that our states, our communities,
and our professions — our people
— are more complicated that we
often think. But changes like this
don’t come easy. Congress must
stay consistent so that our industry
can do what we do best. I encourage
Congressman Walden to maintain
the RFS as it is and give Oregon’s
agricultural community and econo-
my the certainty to grow.
As a rancher, we want to leave
the land, air and water a little better
for our children. Long-term stabili-
ty in biofuel production and the Re-
newable Fuels Standard is good for
Oregon and the ranch.
Curtis Martin
North Powder, Ore.