After some discussions with County Commissioners we feel it’s time for an update as to where we’re at with county courts/commissioners moving to directly coordinate with the US Forest Service on the Forest Plan Revision.
As of today we know of two counties that are working on directly coordinating on the forest plan revision.
Wallowa County has requested direct coordination.
Baker County is working on coordinating. Commissioner Harvey has been actively engaged with the process through the NRAC committee, however Commissioners Kerns and Bennett have moved in a direction of stalling the process in favor of hiring a recently retired Forest Service Employee from the Malheur National Forest to negotiate away our rights. We are gravely concerned about Mr. Bennett and Kerns selection of this individual and their willingness to allow a non-Baker County resident, who has such close ties and allegiance to the Forest Service to be negotiating on behalf of the residents of Baker County, when he himself doesn’t have to live with the consequences of those decisions.
Union County has now openly stated in a meeting last week with Commissioner Davidson that they will “cooperate” (allow the Forest Service to be lead agency) with forest service on the forest plan revision and then “coordinate” afterwards. This came from a direct face to face meeting with Commissioner Davidson last week and would seem to go against his April 6th, 2012 pledge to the 1500 people in attendance that he stated “Union county supports you in this venture right to the bitter end” https://www.facebook.com/ForestAccessForAll/videos/vb.281919465219299/3342482636671/?type=2&theater . Not directly coordinating on the Forest Plan Revision allows the forest service to place the baseline restrictions on our public lands that will then allow them to do site specific restrictions in the Travel Management Process, in other words, it’ll be to late for the county to take action. Mr. Davidson was asked to take up the natural resources plan of Baker County, and he stated he would not, and seemed to be angered that people were pushing so hard to move into coordination.
Grant, Harney, Umatilla Counties all refuse to engage in any type of direct coordination process and Grant Counties driving concern seems to be more of how well they did on a local golf tournament than their responsibilities to protect their local residents ability to openly access the forest and the natural resources within, well, those that the Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur National Forest haven’t let burn this year.
We wanted to share this information with you so you are knowledgeable about the issues and how your local county officials are engaging in the process.
The Baker County NRAC meets Sept. 10th and County Commission meetings Sept. 16th, please contact Tork Ballard for more information at 541 523 4209, your attendance and action at these and other meetings throughout the region would be greatly appreciated.