Will Oregon Shrink?

How does this sound: Coos Bay-Idaho, Crater Lake-Idaho, Medford-Idaho, Redmond-Idaho, Baker City-Idaho, Burns-Idaho, etc.

Some of the residents of southwest, central and eastern Oregon, approximately three-fourths of the state, want to become part of a greatly expanded state of Idaho. Should it become partially or totally true, what could be left of the Oregon that we know would be about the northwest quarter of the state or 14 of the 36 counties. That is, from about Eugene northward and the crest of the Cascades westward to the coast would be what is left of the existing state of Oregon. That is a change practically beyond imagination.

Why do the residents of 22 Oregon counties want to join Idaho? The greater part of their argument is that the population centers of Eugene, Salem and Portland do not represent their cultural and political views and values. They feel like they have little input in the governing of Oregon and that the state places little value in their way of life. And more clearly, the people in the three counties that border Idaho feel more geographically and economically connected to Idaho.  

It might be helpful and meaningful if the legislature met periodically in the central and eastern side of the state. Convening the legislature for a week or so further east would not be easy or cheap but it can be done. This could give our more rural residents the chance to have more direct input into the business and direction that state lawmaking takes. And they might then feel more like they belong in Oregon and not Idaho.

Idaho is changing. It is the nation’s fastest growing state and people from all over the country, including California, are moving there in droves. And they bring their own culture and political views, some of which are liberal, with them. Idaho may not always remain the conservative and largely rural paradise that they seek. 

(Jim Parr lives in Keizer.)