Guest Opinion Submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo
Idaho's Congressional delegation, even as it changes over the years, has a strong, bipartisan history of working together to address many of the important issues facing Idahoans. Just last week, the Idaho Congressional delegation was notified of our success in maintaining the United States Postal Service's (USPS) contract with Arnold Aviation, who delivers air mail from Cascade to residents in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
On March 24, the owners of Arnold Aviation, Ray and Carol Arnold, received a brief letter from the local Post Office informing them that their contract, which they have held for 34 years, would not be extended beyond June 30, 2009. Instead, the USPS offered a free mailbox in Cascade to the affected customers who would no longer receive mail service. This was clearly an unacceptable solution. The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is the most remote wilderness area in the lower 48 contiguous states. Some residents are 120 air miles from Cascade; others live up to 60 miles from the nearest road; and many face a long drive over mountain roads and through mountain passes, which can make winter driving dangerous and often prohibitive.
Because the contract doesn't cover the full cost of the service, the Arnolds' provide additional services to residents by flying passengers in and out and by delivering necessities such as medical supplies, perishable goods, equipment, and many other important supplies. The residents of the area, including ranchers, outfitters, and researchers at a University of Idaho research station, all depend on the Arnolds' critical service.
Staff members from my office joined staff from Senator Risch's and Congressman Minnick's offices to participate in a conference call with the USPS to discuss the issue. Senator Risch and I sent a letter to Postmaster General John Potter expressing our concerns with the decision and asking the Postmaster General to work with us to achieve a solution to this issue. Last Thursday, he responded with a gracious letter thanking us for bringing the matter to his attention and assuring us that the contract will continue in its present form.
As in this present case, the Idaho delegation has successfully worked together on many issues in the past. In 2003, we worked together to secure increased funding for cleanup work in the Coeur d' Alene Basin and to support legislation to amend and clarify several controversial provisions of the Patriot Act. In 2005, we worked together to secure funding for safety improvements at Friedman Airport in Hailey. Earlier this year, the current full delegation wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Chu to express concern over reduced funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility in Nevada, and we joined in support of the delisting of the grey wolf in Idaho. We also regularly work together in support of the Idaho National Laboratory, which is important not only to the state, but to the country for its vital work on energy and national security issues.
These are just a few examples, big and small, of the Idaho delegation working together for Idaho. In addition to the ability to work together on these statewide issues, each member of the Idaho delegation has offices around the state where you can seek help for any problems with an agency of the federal government. You can find contact information for my regional office in your area at my website: http://crapo.senate.gov. We are ready to help when you seek assistance. All you need to do is ask.
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