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Letters, April 28

Don’t blame the governor

Gov. Kate Brown has moved Jackson County into the extreme category, changing protocols that will affect the economy.

Don’t blame the governor for this. Blame those who don’t wear masks, those who gather in groups indoors unmasked or unvaccinated and those who are eligible for a vaccine but refuse it.

All public health experts and common sense tell us that masks prevent COVID aerosols from spreading among us. It is obvious that when your mouth and nose have a barrier, aerosols can’t be shared. When the population is broadly vaccinated, the rates of infection diminish drastically. Witness the UK and Israel.

We can beat this virus if everyone does the right thing, accepts that this deadly pandemic is real and quits making excuses. There is no room for mixed messaging on this.

We can hold two ideas at once: get vaccinated and continue to wear a mask in certain situations to protect against variants and those who have yet to be vaccinated. If we do this consistently, we can hope to return to life that at least resembles what we had before COVID. If we don’t, we will have repeated waves of infection. It’s our choice and our responsibility.

Jan Lippen-Holtz

Ashland

We need goats

It’s good to see blackberries identified as the severe fire risk they are. Blackberries led the Almeda fire north along the Bear Creek Greenway into Talent and Phoenix. Clearly they were a greater fire hazard than nearby trees.

But burning blackberries — or, worse yet, applying toxic herbicides — is not the answer. Blackberries and other flammable invasives are delicious to goats and effectively controlled by herds of ravenous goats, as shown in this video.

Blackberries line our creeks in Lithia Park, other city parks, and private land throughout Ashland and Jackson County. There are numerous other noxious weeds goats will consume, grinding up the flowers so they can’t go to seed. Goats also enjoy dry, flammable, woody debris.

This website explains how goats can help prevent wildfires without unhealthy smoke levels filling the valley or toxic weedkillers leaching into our waterways.

Better than burning and more resilient than herbicides: goats.

Frances Dunham

Ashland

Show up, vote for climate

Many Ashlanders are proud of our city’s reputation for being realistic and forward-thinking on issues — including climate.

In 2017, after many months of research, reflection, and creativity, a citizen committee established by the City Council and appointed by the mayor developed a Climate and Energy Action Plan itemizing how the city could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions substantially. After many council meetings during which Ashland High School students implored action, the council unanimously adopted the plan with its timeline. Ashland leapt to the regional forefront in the climate action arena.

But there’s a catch: Subsequent concerted effort is necessary to ensure the schedule is followed. It’s time for Ashland City Council to get serious about actualizing the CEAP, and for other regional cities likewise to create/implement a CEAP for all cities throughout the region to get serious about reducing GHG emissions. We must do our part to protect Oregon for future generations.

We have all been slow to show up.

May 18 is Election Day; you can show up. Ballots go out April 30 for what is called an off-year election. But, in a democracy, all elections are important. Vote for the climate; show up!

Louise D. Shawkat

Ashland