U.S. Rep Peter DeFazio has been an important friend of the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. So his pointed questions about a proposed expansion should signal the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to step carefully.
Just last year, the 4th District Democrat was an honored guest at a ceremony dedicating more than 400 acres of reclaimed intertidal marsh on the north bank of the Coquille River. The marsh expansion was Oregon's biggest wetland restoration, thanks in large part to DeFazio's influential support. An observation deck bears his name.
DeFazio didn't flinch from mentioning that happy ceremony in his recent letter to Fish and Wildlife. He expressed surprise to hear the feds would consider a far bigger expansion of the marsh 'before examining the impacts of the recently completed restoration."
That's a good point. The timing creates an unfortunate impression of a voracious bureaucracy. Before fully digesting a 400-acre increase, Fish and Wildlife is gazing hungrily at 4,500 acres more.
DeFazio raised other good questions as well:
• Officials say they'll only buy land from willing sellers. Will they provide
a written confirmation that they won't use eminent domain to force land
• How will officials evaluate which land to buy?
• Even if the expansion exclusively involves willing sellers, how can the
sellers' neighbors be sure their own land won't be affected?
• And how will changes at the marsh affect recreation in and around the
The congressman isn't the first to ask these questions. Local citizens have rallied to oppose an expansion of federal land ownership. But DeFazio's letter commands attention on his constituents' behalf.
Though his questions are careful and polite, they put federal officials on notice that rural Oregonians are skeptical about expanding the fed's local footprint.
Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/opinion/editorial/defazio-wades-in/article_8c9d4a3b-1d54-51b9-a277-0a275eb36350.html#ixzz1rl0L2TPH