BLM’s sage grouse proposal devoid of common sense
Why is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposing a plan for protecting sage grouse habitat in Oregon that directly harms ranchers, the communities and sage-grouse ecosystems they support? It would be a plan that terminates grazing on 118,000 acres of public grazing land and imposes unnecessary regulations on approximately 600,000 acres of land that BLM has labeled “areas of critical environmental concern.” Moreover, this plan doesn’t take predator controls into consideration. Grouse predators are currently estimated at many times their historic level. Yet BLM has no authority over predator controls, therefore requiring ranchers to make major management changes while a major threat to the species goes unattended. All of this “planning” seems devoid of common sense.
In addition, successful cattle ranching operations support rural school and communities through increased tax revenue and employment opportunities. Yet according to BLM, implementing their preferred plan could result in a loss of jobs in five Oregon counties. Here in Baker County, a community supported by a strong ranching industry, our schools and businesses cannot afford losing such support.
As a fourth-generation rancher in Baker City, I have a vested interest in protecting the land that I and several animals, including sage grouse, live and work on. Much of my efforts directly benefit sage grouse by preserving, protecting and managing their habitat. In fact, multiple studies have shown that sage grouse are attracted to allotments grazed by cattle. BLM’s proposed plan to improve sage-grouse habitat by eliminating and restricting grazing is counter-intuitive and will fail.
There’s still time to be heard by submitting comments regarding this plan to BLM – Greater Sage-Grouse DEIS, 1220 SW Third Ave., Portland, OR 97204, or by email to
Comments and suggestions will be accepted through Feb. 20. Please support our ranchers, community and sage grouse with sensible alternatives to this plan.
President, Baker County Livestock Association
Conservative ideas have proven their worth
Progressives like to brag that they are the party of ideas, but some excellent conservative ideas do exist.
In 1990, New York City was just one more crime-ridden big city like Chicago and Detroit where it wasn’t safe to go out at night by yourself. Desperate, New Yorkers elected a Republican as their mayor, Rudy Giuliani. Drawing on conservative crime-fighting theories, the new mayor declared that the city police would no longer ignore petty crime, and the police began data-crunching, deploying officers to where they would be put to good use. Crime rates soon began plummeting, and continued to do so throughout the eight years of Giuliani’s administration. His successor, Republican William Bloomberg, added stop-and-frisk, and crime and crime rates continued to decline for the next 12 years.
In 1990, New York City had 2,262 murders; in 2012, there were 414, an 83 percent drop. During the same period, rape was down 55 percent, robbery was down 79 percent and burglary was down 83 percent. Progressive critics of these new police procedures claimed racism; indeed, they angrily screamed “racism” right in Mayor Giuliani’s face. Those critics ignored the fact that the great majority of crime victims were minorities. In 2012 alone, 1,848 people, mostly minorities, are alive who would have been murder victims had the 1990 murder rate continued unchanged! Meanwhile, Chicago and Detroit are still unsafe.
Welfare reform was passed by a Republican Congress in 1996, and signed into law by President Clinton. Welfare benefits were henceforth time-limited, and work requirements were implemented. Progressive critics of the new law claimed that millions of people would become homeless, huddling on heating grates to keep warm. Instead, millions of people got jobs and off welfare, and have the satisfaction of providing for their own needs instead of being on the government dole.
Obamacare is being implemented with snafus, increased health insurance costs and broken promises. Medicare will be bankrupt in a decade. More and more cities are going bankrupt. Progressive politicians, however, claim nothing is basically wrong here, and refuse to make any changes in their pet programs. How about trying some more conservative ideas?
Remembering great BHS athletes
The recent passing of Donn Smithpeter brought to mind many recollections of our high school days. He was a longtime friend and schoolmate. Only a few weeks before he died I asked his sister, Deni, to inquire as to our age when Donn gave me his Baker Democrat Herald paper route. Donn said he could not recall, but it was when we were either 10 or 11, as he went to work at the family grocery store on Main Street during the last years of World War II. Delivering papers was much easier than competing with the likes of Jim Pifher or Bobb McKittrick hawking papers at businesses on Main Street.
Baker High was not noted for having highly competitive track teams in the late 1940s or early 1950s, but 1949 turned out to be an exception. There were five members of the boys track team that qualified to go to the Oregon state meet in Corvallis. As Carlyle Staab recalled, they traveled in a car with the track coach. Budgets were tight. Carlyle was the team sprinter and hurdler. Donn was the 440 runner. Don Thompson was the pole vaulter and high jumper. Gerald Church threw the javelin. Harold Parrot ran distance races. Of the five, Carlyle was on the baseball team as pitcher and shortstop, Gerry was also pitcher and fielder, Don was center on the basketball team. Not much time to practice track.
At the state meet Baker High was represented by coach Al Grove (also the football coach, manager John Heriza and the six participants. At the end of the state tournament Baker High was third in team points. Donn with his smooth stride was either third or fourth in the 440-yard dash. Gerald won the javelin. Don won both the high jump and the pole vault. Carlyle placed fifth in the 100-yard dash, third in the 220-yard dash, third in the low hurdles. Harold placed either third or fourth in the mile; and the 880-yard relay team was fifth. The fourth member of the relay team is still a mystery.
Gerry went on to be Oregon State’s (then College, now University) javeline thrower with a throw at the NCAA championships that put him in first place until the final day. Carlyle became a starting guard on the OSC freshman basketball team and shortstop on the baseball team before signing a baseball contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers his sophomore year. Don was a member of the OSC track team during his years there and went on to be an aviator. Donn became a civil engineer from OSC and had a long career in the nuclear power business. John Heriza taught school for his career. Al Grove moved back to the Willamette Valley to coach. Harold is probably still running somewhere, ala Forrest Gump. The folow up on the mystery athlete is still unresolved.
Baker High School Class of 1952
Editor’s note: The author is the uncle of Herald publisher Kari Borgen’s husband, Kerry.
Sage grouse a pawn used to close public land
Those of you who use public lands in Eastern Oregon are faced with another dilemma. The Greater Sage Grouse could potentially close large tracts of BLM land. Once again it appears that those of us who live here are at the mercy of vocal, well-funded special interest groups that not only don’t even live and work in the area, but whose goals are the elimination of all public land grazing practices, and probably have other hidden agendas that will further their elitist plans. The sage grouse appears to be only a pawn in the much larger scheme of keeping the legitimate ranchers, miners, recreational users, hunters, fisherman and other public land users off public lands.
As usual, the BLM caters to the interest groups, ignores concerns of legitimate public land users, sets short comment periods and makes it difficult for those living in the area to comment or respond, but caters to the whims of the deep-pocket elitist groups.
I was also thinking of a future plan with no grazing or access on public lands, tall grass and brush, and a wildfire. That’s not happened before, has it! What then will be the plight of the “endangered sage grouse?” Pre-cooked?
Remember, comment period deadline is Feb. 20. If you want standing in any further BLM sage grouse actions, you must submit a written or email comment. Comments can be mailed to BLM-Greater Sage Grouse EIS, attn: Joan Suther, RE: BLM Resource Management Plan Amendment for Oregon, 1220 S.W. Third Ave., Portland, OR 97204; or email to:
Drivers: Please slow down on 17th Street
I live on 17th Street. The traffic on the corner of Campbell and 17th is real bad. I’d like to know why people feel that have to drive 35 or 40 mph on this street, when they pass cars going the same speed! Once in a great while a cop will catch someone, but not very often.
People walk and run on this road. Someone will get hir or hurt. It’s downright scary. So please slow down. Our speed limit is 25 mph; there are signs. I know there are people who live here too that want you to slow down.
Watching a Good Samaritan at work in Baker City
As I sat down at my desk this morning (Jan. 31), I looked out my window and saw the Community Connection bus stop in front of the Presbyterian Church and driver Bob White jumps out and runs over to a lady walking on the ice-packed sidewalk. He then helps escort her to the front door of the church. I got goosebumps as I realized that he was going out of his way to assist this woman. He saw someone who was walking on icy walkways and ran to help. I holler at my co-worker Kelly, “come here and look at this.” We “ooooh” and “awww” as we watch this Good Samaritan and we think, what a great way to start our Friday morning to see something that fills your heart to know that there are such caring people here in Baker City!
County meeting with Forest Service without notice
You, born a free man or woman in America, are being told it is for your own good to not be allowed to travel into your mountains. You are told that once the USFS gets its way with road closures, aka “travel management,” that you may be fined $5,000 or be subject to two years in prison for doing nothing more than what your great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents have done for generations, that is travel freely into your mountains. Again, penalized for living your life and following your own order of life of pursuing your life, liberty, and happiness.
The USFS and elected officials have “rules” to follow. In case of the USFS, they work under “planning rules” of which they are picking and choosing from as to meet out their desired condition of “may meet with objectors” using the 2012 planning rule, for a plan that is being developed under the 1982 planning rule that states the USFS “must meet with appellants.” And of which our current forest supervisor has admitted mixing of those planning processes would be inappropriate for them to do, and yet, they are doing it right now.
Our elected officials are currently meeting with WWNF staff in a quorum fashion, meaning a majority of the elected commission body is present (2 out of 3), and discussing the Forest Plan Revision, which constitutes a “public meeting,” however they have failed to give public notice of any such meetings, even though the WWNF staff has been told the public wants notice of those meetings. Which gives just another example of officials breaking the rules/laws to meet out their own agendas.
You will be not allowed to travel down roads the USFS deems unnecessary, or that your elected officials negotiate away in collaborative groups, but when they find it uncomfortable to have you at a meeting, or more convenient to mix rules to meet out their desired outcome, bending and breaking the rules is completely acceptable, will you be afforded the same latitudes when you’re caught not obeying?
John D. George
Linthicum would bring fresh viewpoint to Congress
A breath of fresh air blew into Baker City Saturday, Jan. 24 in the form of a new Republican candidate for U.S. Congress. Dennis Linthicum, with his wife, spent nearly two hours with a small group of us at the Little Bagel Shop discussing his ideas and ideals and answering our questions. His platform is from a strong, long-term constitutional conservative viewpoint, something sadly missing from our nation’s legislator mix. Those in particular who would like to see the western states become more prosperous will be interested in learning more about Dennis.
One of Dennis’ objectives, on which he will need a lot of help, is to essentially turn the federal managed forests, the national forests, into state forests with no federal involvement. Consider what that would do for the management of our forests and for the state’s economy! At the present time more than 50 percent of the western states is controlled by the federal government. Thus it controls our natural resources, including minerals and mineral exploration, access for enjoyment, forest products, access to wildlife, etc., all of which could be better managed and enjoyed by those who live in the vicinity. But his interests and potential influence is far broader than just resources.
The following quote from Dennis pretty well indicates his position on the things that matter most to those of us who live in Oregon: “Favoritism has become the status quo in politics, but it is nevertheless unjust and unfair. Government restricts our freedoms every day, and gives us few choices about our lives through bureaucracies, corporate welfare and needless regulations. In both our business and personal spheres, we are seeing our choices shrink and options fade, and we know that it’s time to bring common sense and liberty back to Oregon.”
How could one disagree?
Dennis’ website is Dennis2014.com, his email is
and his phone number is 541-892-6512. He would welcome your questions and comments.
Even as a company that has roots dating back over 125 years, we believe in the philosophy of adapting to changing times to promote our growth and development. Since my family first purchased property in Eastern Oregon in the 1870s, our business has grown to four locations, including our main location in North Powder. And, for more than 30 years, Beef Northwest has made use of general aviation aircraft and I can say with full certainty that without this critical business tool, we would not be able to serve our many customers across the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Spaying and neutering pets saves animals’ lives
According to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 3 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. That means one homeless pet is euthanized about every 12 seconds. Often these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets, even purebreds. Maybe someone’s cat or dog got out just that one time or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good, permanent homes failed. The result is that homeless animals have to be euthanized. Spaying and neutering saves lives.
Spay/neuter awareness month takes place in February, and World Spay Day takes place on Feb. 25. New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, the Alpine Veterinary Hospital, Baker Animal Clinic, the Baker Animal Hospital, Baker City and Baker County along with humane organizations, rescue groups, veterinary clinics and individuals across the U.S. and around the world are organizing reduced cost spay/neuter clinics, and are bringing awareness to the importance of spaying and neutering. To volunteer or to spay/neuter your pet at reduced cost, call me at 541-523-6863 or visit www.newhopeforanimals.org. Together, we can ensure every pet enjoys a long, happy and healthy live in a loving home.
New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals spay and neuter chairman
We need to get rid of the perch in Phillips Reservoir
Continuing to allow perch to remain in Phillips Reservoir is costing Baker County over $1.5 million a year in revenue. If you would like this to be corrected, let the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife know your feelings.
You may hear the same old stories:
1. We are netting perch yearly in Phillips Reservoir.
2. We can’t use Rotenone, it will kill all the fish, including the bull trout, if any. Ask them how many bull trout they have netted out of Phillips the past four years. By the way, if no bull trout are found in Phillips, do the perch eat them? I would wager to say over a million perch are inhabiting Phillips.
3. A third argument they have is what about the environmentalists? OK, they have used Rotenone in other places in Oregon (i.e., in Malheur County and in Western Oregon) with positive results.
4. Oh, by the way, they will probably say Rotenone is too expensive. Rotenone would be used one year and would not need to be used again for probably 10 years. My response to that is what about the $1.5 million Baker County is losing each year?
Now is the time to get with it. Wouldn’t it be great if the fishing for trout in Phillips was as good as it was in the 70s before someone illegally introduced perch in Phillips? Fellow sportsmen, if we continue to have such a shortage of water or climate change, it would be the perfect time to Rotenone Phillips Reservoir. I understand that is not a poison and the flow of Rotenone can be controlled so it will not go downstream from the dam. Timing is essential to cut the cost of Rotenone and cut the loss of revenue occurring yearly in Baker County.
Good fishing for trout would result in the return of the fishermen.
Oregonians should re-elect Sen. Jeff Merkley
Your editorial on the Republican Senate candidates forum (“The GOP challenge,” Jan. 27) offered only muted approval, saying, “We’ve yet to interview the candidates so we’re not prepared to recommend voters choose one of the quintet over (U.S. Senator Jeff) Merkley.” Perhaps the Herald’s editorial board found, as did I, that the five candidates offered embarrassingly little in the way of positive policy ideas to support rural America and the middle class (similar to the policy-free Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night).
Instead of even mentioning such central issues as stark economic inequality, structural unemployment and underemployment, and dangers of devastating global climate change, the candidates took refuge in such ideological issues as abortion and phasing out Social Security, and even found a “socialist, communist agenda” lurking behind the new Common Core school testing standards. And they uniformly called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), even though it is already benefiting millions of Americans.
I was particularly disappointed to hear front-runner Jason Conger declare that “Borrowing from the Social Security Trust Fund is a breach of trust.” This is the same zombie untruth that left President Bush out on a limb in 2005. Conger and his fellow candidates should know by now that the $2.7 trillion Social Security Trust Fund actually invests in United States Treasury bonds backed by “the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.”
As a result, I have no hesitancy in vigorously supporting the re-election of our outstanding Senator Jeff Merkley. Merkley has an exceptional understanding of the issues facing our nation, and he has the leadership ability to bring “We The People” together to solve those issues. I heartily recommend the speech that Merkley gave to the Netroots Nation conference last June (Google: “Merkley Netroots”).
We face the choice between a country ruled by a wealthy few, leaving most of us out in the cold, or a country ruled by We the People that benefits everyone. I urge the Herald and my fellow readers to energetically support the re-election of Senator Jeff Merkley.
Inequality isn’t about income, it’s about decisions
Income inequality is a favorite topic currently. But currently the worst inequality is between people who are successful in life — the middle and upper classes — and the underclass. Sociologists have identified some characteristics which separate these two groups: Wait until marriage to have children and stay married; get a good education; stay out of jail; don’t do drugs or abuse alcohol; and, have some sort of a spiritual life. Successful people share most or all of these characteristics; the underclass demonstrates few or none of them.
Progressives claim that pointing out these differences is “blaming the victim,” saying that it’s their own fault they’re poor. But that isn’t so; instead it’s pointing out that our behaviors have consequences. Mostly this is just common sense. The pregnant high schooler who drops out of school to raise her baby is beginning life with two strikes against her, as is her male counterpart who drops out of school and then does something that gets him locked up. Druggies’ and alcoholics’ addictions are what land them on skid row.
Now we’re talking about averages here. Some individual women are taller than some men, but on average men are taller than women. While some people play by the above rules yet through no fault of their own wind up poor, in general, people’s behaviors are a good predictor of whether or not they will be successful in life.
So what can the government do about the extreme income inequality between successful people and the underclass? Very little. As long as there are people who behave in self-destructive ways, there will be an underclass, people about to go under financially for the third and last time. Even if the government were to institute a 100 percent income tax, and then pay every man, woman and child in the country the exact same amount of money, there would still be some who could exist very comfortably on that money while others would constantly run out of money long before they ran out of month.
There are just some tasks which the government is unable to do.
Fire victim says thank you to all who helped
I want to send out a personal and heartfelt thank you to all of the emergency personnel who responded to the apartment fire at the Blue Ridge Apartments on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Without the quick response of the Baker Rural Fire Department, the Baker City Fire Department, the Baker County Sheriff’s Office and the American Red Cross, the fire, loss and damage would have been exponentially worse. I am humbled by the number of personnel who came out and grateful to those who were able to stay into the evening to see that we were safe.
As well, for Chris at the Red Cross, pulling a one-man-show; he was with us all day and then into the night to see that we were all set up and safe at the Oregon Trail Motel. Thank you as well to the hospitality of the staff at the Oregon Trail Motel. Our community is blessed to have such caring and competent people in these positions and my family and I are humbled and grateful. If I forgot anyone, my apologies, it was a bit of a blur that day.
Heather J. Cromwell
Government taking away our freedoms
Blatant disregard and prejudice for smokers and 2nd Amendment defenders by city, state, federal agencies, blatant disregard for drinkers and other so-called sinners and so-called alarmists that believe in Constitutional rights, not privileges. The city is using prejudice to pass bans on freedoms in parks, outdoors. Already have non-constitutional areas of town, making them downright dangerous for all who visit those areas, including our children. Still takes time for cop to run from one side of building to other even if in same building. All that time, more potential casualties, minimum 10 minutes for backup.
Wake up. All parts of the Constitution have to do with freedom, just as relevant today as when it was written. Possibly more relevant now. Everyone seems to forget freedom of speech and religion, or lack thereof. Want all religious symbols destroyed. Get over it. All monuments in Washington, D.C., would have to be destroyed, all have at least one Bible in foundation. Check facts out yourself.
While you’re at it, re-read the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Especially those that swore to uphold the Constitution. Not everyone wants others to help save everyone from everyone. We prefer to think for ourselves. All states that have tough gun controls also have huge crime rates.
All government land is supposed to be accessible to all citizens, not just when money is available. Forest Service roads over 100 years old are supposed to be left open, forever, even in so-called roadless areas, which are inaccessible to all disabled people. To any person not gifted with perfect help.
Part of freedom is being thick-skinned enough to let others not only believe whatever, but to use their own brain to make their own decisions.
Backcountry travelers need to know about avalanches
In response to the article about “Locals escape avalanche scare” that appeared in The Observer and Baker City Herald on Friday, Jan. 17:
Yes, they are lucky to be alive. I wasn’t there, but in reading the article the only training it suggested that the group had was many years of snowmobiling riding and that all were backcountry winter users.
All backcountry users need to attend avalanche awareness presentations, or Avalanche training Level I, II, or III courses which are given by many organizations.
These presentations and training provides the following information:
• Safe travel routes
• Snowpack evaluations
• Social habits and make up of groups
• Avalanche beacons and use
• Avalanche shovels and use
• Avalanche probe poles and use
• Shovel technique for rescue
• Self rescue in an avalanche
Each individual backcountry traveler, whether it is by snowmobile, backcountry skis or snowshoes, should carry beacons, shovels, and probe poles and have the training to know how to use them.
A backcountry traveler should be trained to identify the dangers of avalanche and how to self rescue and be safe. No matter how you travel in the backcountry in the winter you need the right equipment to take care of you and your partners.
There are many organizations that can provide avalanche training and awareness. A few of those organizations are American Avalanche Association, National Ski Patrol, and Wallowa Mountains Avalanche Center.
Please be safe when traveling in the backcountry. Remember, each individual in a backcountry party must have the training and proper equipment to rescue each other when an avalanche occurs.
Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol member, and Level II avalanche instructor