To the Editor:

I just wanted to write in regards to the wilderness permit system the Forest Service wants to use for trails in 2020. This is absolutely not acceptable that our local forests are being turned into a bureaucratic moneymaking scheme. Trails should always be free, and if permits are necessary to limit the amount of visitors, those should be free as well.

We are seeing a very blatant lie taking place right before our eyes. The lie is: that these permits are meant to protect the forest and to help maintain the health of the trails and general area. If that was truly the intention of this permit system, there would be no fee. But it is very obvious to me that the intention is actually money-related rather than one of higher merit like what is being claimed.

This is very saddening and angering to me because I deeply care about this land and this forest with all of my heart. It also disturbs me to see the Forest Service deciding to merely limit the amount of visitors to a trail rather than doing their actual job, which would include servicing the trails and maintaining them. Will these trails even need to be serviced at all when hardly anyone is using them?

And what about all of the residents who live here? How is that fair for us and how is limited access to a forest helping us all to be more environmentally conscious? Humanity, more than ever, needs a greater connection to nature right now, not further isolation. It’s one of the biggest things that can help us to restore balance within ourselves and ultimately the entire planet.

Andrew Roe

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To the Editor:

As many have heard through multiple media sources, public school teachers throughout the state of Oregon have organized a statewide walk-out to send the message to state government that our schools need to be fully funded, something that has not happened in over a decade.

The Sisters Education Association wants to support our fellow teachers throughout the state who are not as fortunate to teach in a district that supports their schools as the Sisters community does.

In working with the district superintendent and our members, we are committed to not disrupting our students learning, but do want to show support to other teachers throughout the state. To accomplish this, teachers will be walking out of school when our students are dismissed for the day on Wednesday, May 8, and will hold a rally in front of our district office on Cascade Avenue to share the message with our community that full funding for education has to happen and it has to happen now.

Please come out and support your teachers and your schools at 3:15 p.m., Wednesday May 8, and help us spread the word that education matters. If you aren’t able to attend but support full funding for education, please contact your state legislators and share with them that you support their fully funding of education in our state at Rep.JackZika@oregonlegislature.gov and Sen.TimKnopp@oregonlegislature.gov.

Michele Hammer

President, Sisters Education Association

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To the Editor:

A background in biology/education flavors my opposition to HB-3063, but my concerns touch on the economic, educational, public safety, and human impact aspects.

As a female business co-owner with $7 million revenue employing 300+ Oregonians, who adopted 7 kids out of our foster care crisis, I’m convinced this mandate will hit our state — and hard.

Brave, underfunded educators already campaign for the diverse ability levels of their students. With the 31,000 kids that will lose their current vaccine exemption(s), schools alone stand to take a $248 mil funding hit.

Segregating students susceptible to further toxin injury into isolated, screen-based “learning” will only add to our mental-health crisis. This embarrassing offering of an “education” will tank our notoriously low graduation rates. Oregon students are diverse in need and access that, for many, breakfasts/lunches at school are the only reliable meals they experience.

There are ZERO exemptions for students with any of the following: heart/organ failure, seizures, family death, autism, or MTHFR mutation. That puts public safety at risk. We’ve seen 0 measles deaths in the U.S. since 2015, yet 459 measles vaccine deaths in just the last 5 months. And these local outbreaks? Over 1/4th of them involve fully-vaccinated individuals.

In our #MeToo climate, when women are finally exercising a voice to coercion, WHY are we modeling for girls that they have no choice/consent over what goes into or touches their bodies, holding their educations hostage for it?

Caroline Cizek

Bend, OR

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To the Editor:

Over the last several years, we have all watched wildfires blaze much too close our homes for comfort. But despite the obvious fire dangers, the USFS still allows target shooters to congregate in ever-growing numbers, using ever-increasing powerful weapons, firing enormous numbers of rounds per minute much too close to Sisters and close-by residential communities. You can hear them shooting in automatic mode even when it is 90 degrees and the wind is blowing 25 mph.

What I worry about most is a shooter doing something that’s just really stupid. The smallest spark could start a fire that would turn Sisters or nearby residential communities into the next Paradise, California. There is no way emergency crews could possibly respond in time.

The USFS should act before something really tragic happens and they find themselves responsible for millions of dollars of losses. Target shooting should be banned from the national forests or at least shooters should be forced to move much, much further away from our town and communities. After all, just how difficult is it to drive a few extra miles for the sake of safety.

To understand just how dangerous shooting can be, I suggest readers consult the USFS’s own sponsored research paper “A Study of Ignition by Rifle Bullets” (Research Paper RMRS-RP-104) which found without a doubt that bullets can ignite fires. Or just Google “can target shooting cause wildfires” where you will find that target shooting can and does indeed cause many wildfires.

Why should we all have to take such risks so a few shooters can just have some fun?

Rick Canter