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Closing roads: We don’t all get a vote

Let’s be clear on one thing: The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest’s road-closure process is not a democratic one.

Only one person will decide which roads on the Wallowa-Whitman that are now open to motor vehicles will be closed.

His name is Steve Ellis. He’s the Wallowa-Whitman supervisor.

But although no one other than Ellis will make that decision, everyone else has the right to lobby him.

This includes residents of the five counties across which the Wallowa-Whitman sprawls: Baker, Union, Wallowa, Grant and Umatilla.


Protect watershed

Whoever started the fire last week in Baker City’s watershed probably figured the diminutive blaze was of little consequence.

Luckily, they were right.

Yet that fire, though it burned less than one-tenth of an acre before four Forest Service firefighters put it out Friday evening, could have left the city’s 4,000 or so households with dry faucets and a hefty bill to get them flowing again.

The fire might prompt city officials to cancel hunters’ privileges to legally walk into the watershed and go after a deer or an elk.


A tough year killing skeeters

I will agree, in part, with a caller who left a message on my answering machine complaining that not enough had been done about the mosquitoes this summer.

However, I must add that I feel the vector control district has done everything within its power to reduce mosquito numbers as much as possible.

At this point in the season, the district has logged 302 phone calls. Of these calls 249 were adult mosquito reports, 16 event fogging requests, 12 dead bird reports, four larval inspection requests, three no-spray list, two for advice on out-of-district mosquito control and 16 miscellaneous calls, including thank-yous. The district has made 381 larvacide treatments covering 9,985 acres as well as 55 adulticide treatments covering 63,939 acres.


A different kind of Congress?

Griping about how the Willamette Valley bullies the rest of Oregon is a popular pastime among residents in the state’s rural regions.

Which is most of them — regions, that is.

When we first heard about the inaugural Oregon Rural Congress, which took place last week, we figured the event organizers had merely put a new name on an event with the same tired old purpose: to complain.

But then we read a couple of quotes that Colleen MacLeod, a Union County commissioner and co-chairman of the Eastern Oregon Rural Alliance, gave to The (La Grande) Observer, our corporate sister paper.


Unintended effects of the ethanol law

Ethanol was supposed to boost Oregon’s economy and clean our air — a pretty neat trick.

Turns out ethanol knows a couple other tricks that aren’t so neat.

Lowering your car’s gas mileage, for instance.

And raising your food prices.

And, possibly, dissolving plastic or rubber parts of your vehicle.

No wonder the Oregon Legislature was so enamored of ethanol.

But that was last year.


City’s tough choice on nuisances

Baker City officials should enforce, as fairly as possible, every ordinance that’s in effect.

Baker City officials should not use those ordinances as the pretext for writing as many tickets as possible.

Shannon Regan, who as the city’s community service officer enforces the city’s ordinance that prohibits people from piling trash and other “public nuisances” (as the ordinance defines them), seems to understand this.

When Baker City Herald reporter Chris Collins went along with Regan for a couple hours earlier this month, Regan stopped to talk with a man who had kindled a debris fire.

The man inadvertently put a plastic milk jug in his burn pile. Burning plastics is illegal in the city because they can produce poisonous vapors.


Failures canhide successes


Leo's legacy isn't immune to litterbugs


Let's take care of the roads we have


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