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The rocks return


The rocks, or some of them anyway, will return.

Now what to do with them.

This, at least, is the lesser of the two dilemmas.

The greater challenge was to bring samples of gold ore and other precious metals and minerals back to Baker County, from whence they came (geographically speaking, if not always geologically).

That task has been achieved.

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Conspicuous criminals


Turns out Baker City wasn't the ideal place to work a counterfeit bill scam.

Not enough anonymity, apparently.

We were pleased — and not a little bit amused — to piece together the tale of how a couple of suspicious store clerks and a clever police officer tracked a fake $20 bill to its suspected source.

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Enforcing forest travel


The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest hasn't unveiled its long-awaited (and, for some people, long-feared) travel management plan, but already we've had a glimpse at how the new limits on motor vehicle use might be enforced.

This glimpse was provided by the man who is largely responsible for that pending plan.

That's Dale Bosworth. He was chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 2001-07. In 2004 he cited "unmanaged recreation" as one of the four biggest threats to national forests. As a result, all forests are required to write travel plans that govern where motor vehicles can go (the plans don't affect snowmobiles).

Earlier this week The Oregonian published an op-ed written by Bosworth, who retired in 2007 after a 41-year career with the Forest Service.

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A real solution


So now we have dueling prescriptions to cure the financial malaise that afflicts 18 counties in Western and Southern Oregon.

First came the plan offered by three Oregon congressman — Democrats Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio, and Republican Greg Walden.

Although the trio has yet to unveil details, their basic idea is to increase logging on about half of the federal forests in those counties, while protecting the rest, including remaining old growth stands, from cutting.

Revenue from the additional logging would help counties balance their budget.

A coalition of environmental groups last week countered the lawmakers' proposal with a three-pronged approach:

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Helping veterans


The event that happened Tuesday at the National Guard Armory in Baker City was at once heart-warming and heart-rending.

We were gratified that so many people — about 60 —turned out to learn how to help soldiers readjust to civilian life.

No group is more deserving of aid.

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County's best option


The Oregon Legislature didn't do Baker County any favors last year when it passed a law that, starting Jan. 1, diverts a significant amount of money from fines and fees paid to Baker Justice Court to the state.

That law, HB 2712, could siphon $180,000 from the Court's coffers over the next 18 months.

Lawmakers might reconsider their decision during the session that started this week.

But with a big shortfall in the state budget, and major education and healthcare proposals from Gov. John Kitzhaber to consider during the month-long session, we're not confident that HB 2712 will get ironed out.

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Keep payments coming

The financial storm bearing down on a few Oregon counties has so far raised scarcely a breeze in Baker County.

But although the tempest threatening Curry, Josephine and some other counties with insolvency remains distant, the heavy weather could come to Eastern Oregon as well.

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Angry Americans defeat censorship


We were pleased to watch last week as the hot breath of Americans, angry over the possible hobbling of the free-ranging Internet, prevailed over the chill wind of censorship.

A pair of bills, one in the U.S. Senate and one in the House of Representatives, seem destined for failure.

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Focus in Salem


Oregon’s Legislature won’t have time to dawdle during the session that starts Feb. 1.

Voters decided two years ago that state lawmakers should convene every year, rather than every other year as was the tradition.

However, the measure that voters endorsed also limits legislative sessions during even-numbered years to 35 days.

(The limit for odd-numbered years is 160 days.)

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Crypto caution

We sympathize with Baker City councilors as they grapple with a pending $2.5 million tab to further cleanse the city’s drinking water, which is already admirably pure.

But we urge councilors to be judicious in expressing their concerns about the federal rule designed to protect people from cryptosporidium and other microscopic parasites that can make people sick and, in rare cases, kill them.

We’re not suggesting councilors muzzle themselves.

In fact we encourage them to interrogate government officials about the rules. We’re particularly interested in the possibility, as City Manager Mike Kee told councilors last week, that the current rules could change before the city’s October 2016 deadline to deal with crypto.

That said, councilors would do their constituents a disservice if, as Councilor Clair Button warned last week, the city incurs a fine or other penalty because it misses a key deadline.

We don’t think that’s likely. The city has plenty of time before it totally commits to buying equipment that will subject our drinking water to a disinfecting dose of ultraviolet light.

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