To the editor:

For many Oregonians, 2020 has presented heavy challenges as our communities have faced wildfires and a global pandemic and all the associated economic hardships each has brought.

As a small business owner and Ontario City Councilor, I know that personally and as a community, this year has been tough.

But I also know that our community is resilient and focused on building back stronger. One way we can do that is to invest in our people and our public lands. Public lands and waters in Malheur County are vital to our ranching and agriculture industries — and they also provide world-class hunting, fishing and camping. They are a key component of our local economy and an important part of our way of life.

That’s why I write to thank Senator Ron Wyden for introducing the Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act (S.2828). This bill would help get Malheur’s County’s residents and economy get back on their feet after a tough year by creating jobs, addressing threats like wildfire and invasive species, and improving access to places throughout the Canyonlands that folks love and enjoy.

Rep. Walden and Sens. Wyden and Jeff Merkley should work together to pass this bill, which is supported by small business owners like me, local ranchers, sportsmen and women, and many others. The time is now to invest in our communities and the Owyhee to ensure our way of life continues now and into the future.

Marty Justus,

Ontario,

Ontario City Council Member

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