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Insignia doesnít trump flag

We don’t begrudge the U.S. Forest Service taking pride in its symbols.

We like Smokey Bear, too.

Although we sometimes worry about the hydration of the person who has to wear that heavy, fuzzy costume during an August parade.

But we’re troubled by the possibility that a Forest Service employee would suggest to a citizen, whose legitimate and peaceful protest of one of the agency’s policies includes displaying the Forest Service insignia, that the protest might run afoul of a federal law.


Talking quiet zone

After more than a decade of relative silence, the issue of train whistles has returned to Baker City.

So far it’s more a whimper than a wail.

But we think the City Council was wise to take advantage of a free analysis by state and federal officials that will help councilors understand how much it would cost for the city to potentially qualify to silence whistles on Union Pacific trains passing through town.


OSP: Let us see video

We the public know more about the fatal shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum by Oregon State Police troopers because the FBI on Thursday released a video, taken by aircraft, of the Tuesday incident.

But we don’t know as much as we could.

Or, more to the point, as much as we should.


An unfortunate result in Harney

Some of the issues raised during the illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge this month are important.

But none was worth a person’s life.

The occupiers committed no crimes for which death is an appropriate outcome.

The video the FBI released during a press conference Thursday evening in Burns, although lacking in detail because it was taken from an aircraft rather than the ground, at least shows that Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, the 54-year-old Arizona man who was fatally shot by Oregon State Police troopers,  put himelf in a perilous situation.


Salvage logging is welcome

We were pleased to hear the staccato rasp of chain saws echoing across the canyons east of the Dooley Mountain Highway on Monday morning.

The sound of the saws was punctuated by the occasional thump of a fire-blackened tree crashing onto the snow.

Barely five months ago the Cornet/Windy Ridge fire raced through these publicly owned forests of ponderosa pine and fir on the way to becoming the biggest blaze, at 104,000 acres, in the county’s history.


Weíll trust the local ranchers

Baker County ranchers need advice from Ammon Bundy and his gang about as much as they need the drought to persist for another decade.

The group illegally squatting at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County since Jan. 2 apparently isn’t content to besmirch the reputation of the ranching industry by implying that the occupation of the Refuge is a justifiable backlash against a federal government bent on booting cattle off the public range.

Now Bundy’s bunch is encouraging ranchers to stop paying their federal grazing fees.

We’re certain that Baker County ranchers — and indeed the vast majority of ranchers across the West — are far too savvy, and law-abiding, to go in for such a harebrained scheme.


5Jís Friday plan has potential

The Baker School District’s four-day week schedule, now about halfway through its fifth year, has in the main worked well.

Families have adjusted to the inconvenience of having kids home rather than in class on most Fridays.

Students’ scores on standardized tests have remained competitive, and in many cases exceeding the Oregon average.


Tweaking EPAís nose


The question of how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers would enforce its Waters of the United States rule is, well, murky.

But even the potential powers the rule could give the federal agencies to restrict how water is used in the West are troubling enough.

So troubling, in fact, that even Congress, where partisan bickering is the defining characteristic, agreed that the rule goes too far.


City email policy: Yes

We’re pleased that the Baker City Council is considering posting on the city’s website emails written by, or sent to, councilors.

We hope councilors adopt a proposed policy, and put it into practice, soon.

This would help the city to comply not only with the letter of Oregon’s Public Records Law, but also with its spirit.


Normalcy in Harney County

Students in Burns and Hines returned to their classrooms Monday.

But Forest Service and BLM employees in that area stayed home. Although some of them have been working from home rather than in their offices, according to media reports.


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