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Congressman Huffman talks to students about Last Chance Grade at Crescent Elk

Congressman Huffman visits Crescent Elk




Huffman: [00:00:00] In my job which is politics. Everybody's trying to make you think their way can be very partisan and very biased. And so whenever I'm visiting with a school group. I try to remember that you're here to learn and I'm not here to make you think like me politically but I would love to be a constructive part of your learning experience.


Huffman: [00:00:23] Our national government works on everything from roads, you know by the way I'm here working on a last chance grade while I'm here to try to make sure Highway 101 doesn't fall in the Pacific Ocean just south of town. We're constantly working on that.


Huffman: [00:00:40] So I work on transportation but I also have 29 Indian tribes in my district. So I work on tribal issues, and Literally 20 minutes ago I was in a dug out Redwood canoe with the Yurok tribe on the Klamath River paddling around. And that was pretty cool. I work on environmental policy and so we have all of these really important things from climate change to how we manage fisheries to the public lands around here and that's constantly stuff that I'm working on. But I also like foreign policy and trying to make sure that we have peace around the world and that we are safe and secure here in the United States. So I guess my favorite part of the job is that. What other job would you get to work on all of those different things? That's pretty cool.


Student: [00:01:31] Why do you support undamming the Klamath river?


Huffman: [00:01:34] Why do I support getting rid of those four dams on the Klamath River? Because I like fish. I think one of the most amazing things about this part of the Pacific coast are the rivers and the salmon runs and the people who depend on them and catch those fish and having those healthy wild salmon populations is something I care quite a bit about. Tuna are great too. You gotta go way out off shore to get them. So one thing that we can do to bring a lot of those salmon runs back is to take out those dams for two reasons you guys know this, right? That the salmon have to swim upstream as part of their life cycle and those dams are blocking the fish passage that could help bring the salmon runs back. But the dams are also creating water quality problems because when that water slows down and stops there is algae and other harmful things that happen and so disease the fish get diseases from that the water gets warmer. It's just really bad for the natural lifestyle of the salmon. So by taking those dams out one of the best things we can do in this part of the state to restore healthy salmon runs. Yeah. 


Sarah Elston: [00:02:50] Blake Do you have another question?


Student: [00:02:55] What's your plan for last chance grade?


Huffman: [00:02:56] My plan for Last Chance grade so I am not an engineer and this is going to be a tricky tricky. Project. Finding a route to take that road you guys know where Wilson Creek Road is. Probably somewhere down in that area instead of going along the coast it's going to have to find a way to get inland and go around a very unstable hillside there that keeps falling into the ocean and so it's going to be a job that the engineers are going to have to carefully calculate. In fact they're out there right now taking all kinds of samples to find out where the good ground is or the bad ground is and they're going to have to figure out a route that doesn't take too many old growth trees that doesn't impact other really important values to this area. And then we're gonna have to try to make it a route that we can afford to pay for because all of this is going to be I mean this sounds like Monopoly money to you guys probably but it's going to be hundreds of millions of dollars and that's a  lot of money.


Huffman: [00:04:07] It is going to be a heck of a big project. And so I can't really tell you where that road ought to go. I can just tell you it's in a bad place right now and we've gotta find a new route and then hopefully all these smart engineers working with environmental scientists and other smart people will find a route that makes sense and that's acceptable for the environment that this community can support. And then my job will be to go back to Washington and try to find a whole bunch of money to pay for


Sarah Elston: [00:04:38] So do you have any parting words for us?


Huffman: [00:04:42] Well yes I do. So as you're studying government and I'm impressed with your questions so I hope you continue to be interested in this stuff because you know right now it just seems like government is another thing that you're studying and reading about as you get older. I hope you will come to appreciate that your government is actually something that you should have a very personal relationship with because the decisions your government makes affect your life and you have a full right to be part of that decision. People like me and government we work for you and you know right now you're not yet voting. So it may feel like you know your voice doesn't matter but you're going to be voting really soon. And it's important that you take it seriously and I don't care what your politics are if you're a Democrat or Republican Green Party whatever, but I hope you're a participating part of the American democracy. We need people to show up and care and follow these things and vote and vote people like me accountable. So then you make sure that word we're doing what you want us to do. The minute people tune out and stop participating, we lose we lose our democracy we lose this great 243 year experiment in having a democratic republic and I think it's a good thing I want to hang on to it. So stay engaged and keep working hard in school. Thanks for having me.