Forest Service official expects little effect, because agency already managing streams to protect the fish
The federal government on Tuesday added sections of about 30 streams
in Baker County to the list of critical habitat for the bull trout, a
Among the newly designated critical habitat are reaches of several
creeks in the Elkhorn Mountains west of Baker City, and about 25
streams in the southern Wallowa Mountains near Halfway and Richland.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first proposed the Baker County
waterways, which total about 325 miles, as critical habitat in January
of this year.
Although the federal Endangered Species Act requires agencies such
as the U.S. Forest Service to protect critical habitat, Tuesday’s
decision probably won’t have a major effect locally on how the agency
manages public land.
The reason, said Paul Boehne, fish biologist for the Wallowa-Whitman
National Forest, is that the forest, since the bull trout was listed as
a threatened species in 1998, has managed streams that could harbor the
fish as though they did have bull trout population.
The agency did so because streams can be designated as critical
habitat even if biologists haven’t found, or even looked for, bull
trout in them.
Agency mailed letters to mining claim holders, but BLM can actually deal with just a small percentage of the problems each year
The Bureau of Land Management has mailed letters to about 4,000
miners, including 155 in Oregon, alerting them to possible abandoned
shafts or other hazards on their mining claims on BLM land.
The letters are part of a BLM campaign to reduce or eliminate dangers associated with old mines.
“We’re taking a proactive approach to warning active mining
claimants whose mining claims include hazardous sites,” BLM Director
Bob Abbey said in a press release.
The letters, which were mailed within the past week, went only to miners with claims on BLM land.
In the Baker-Grant county region, the most productive gold-mining
area in Oregon late in the 19th century and early in the 20th, the
majority of the current active mining claims are on public land managed
by the Forest Service rather than the BLM.
Who knew that carrot stems could be used to swat away flies — and pesky boys?
That was just one of the discoveries Wednesday when 80 youngsters from Powder Valley School invaded the gardens of Valerie and Rod Tachenko of Medical Springs.
The field trip was part of Powder’s Farm-to-School program, which is sponsored by Oregon Rural Action.
Last May, Val Tachenko went to the school and helped the students plant pumpkin seeds, which they tended for a month.
On June 1, the kids took their pumpkins out to the farm for planting. Each plant was marked with a wooden stick that had the child’s name on one side and the pumpkin’s name on the other.
Those pumpkins grew all summer, and Wednesday was harvest day.
The rebuilding of a nearly 10-mile section of the Anthony Lakes Highway is almost finished.
The project’s contractors were “tickled about the warm weather so they could finish the work,” said Judy Wing, public information officer for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
High Desert Aggregate and Paving Inc. of Redmond started work in June.
The 9.5-mile job starts at the Wallowa-Whitman boundary and continues up into the Elkhorn Mountains to a sno-park just beyond Ski Anthony Lakes resort.
Milt Prowell spent a little more than two years in the U.S. Army during the final phase of World War II, serving in France, Germany and Belgium.
Marie Colombari served just 28 days shy of two years in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), working in the main post office at the Naval Training Center in San Diego.
Prowell was drafted into the U.S. Army from his Beaver Creek farm just south of Baker City in 1944, two years after he graduated from Baker High School. After the service he returned to the farm where he worked for several years before establishing P&E Distributing in 1967 with his nephew, Ed Elms. Prowell retired in 1981.
Colombari, a 1941 graduate of Pine Valley High School at Halfway, first worked in the Portland shipyards before enlisting in the WAVES in 1944. She also returned to Baker County after she was discharged in May 1946. She married Bari Colombari and settled in Baker City where they raised three children.
And now, more than half a century later, both Prowell and Colombari are being honored for their dedication to their country during war as part of the Eastern Oregon Honor Flight, which leaves Portland Thursday en route for Washington, D.C.
Candidates for the Baker County Board of Commissioners and the Baker
City Council are scheduled to speak and to answer questions from the
public during a forum next week.
The candidates’ forum is set for Oct. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the commons at Baker High School, 2500 E St.
The free event is sponsored by the Baker Branch of the American Association of University Women, and the Baker City Herald.
Each candidate will give a short statement, followed by questions from the audience.
Two of the three County Commission seats are in play in the Nov. 2 election.
Both incumbents, Fred Warner Jr. and Carl Stiff, are running for another four-year term.
And each has drawn an opponent.
Baker County’s Natural Resource Plan takes a look at agriculture,
forestry, recreation and several other issues that affect, and involve,
the county’s resources.
In March of 2009, the three county commissioners organized a Natural
Resources Advisory Committee to define the economical, social and
agricultural goals of Baker County as they relate to its natural
Last week the 15-member committee, joined by the commissioners, had
an informal meeting to listen to public comments about the draft
version of the county’s Natural Resources Plan.
The purpose of the 47-page plan is to ensure that the county’s goals
and resources are in accordance with state and federal laws, while
still preserving Baker County’s heritage and economy — the largest
sector of which is agriculture, accounting for about $66 million in
“The main reason was we wanted to have a goal and objectives for our
natural resources. So when state and federal agencies come to us we can
say ‘here is our plan,’ ” said Fred Warner Jr., chairman of the board
The skate park near Sam-O Swim Center on Baker Street will soon be
getting a facelift and a few additions that have been 15 years in the
Doing general cleanup at the Baker City skate park near Sam-O Swim Center during the weekend are, from left, Jesse Hatfield, Aiden Lang, and Gabe Logsdon.(Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
The city owns the park.
However, not much has been done in the way of maintaining it. There
are two trash cans near the park, but those are only square concrete
receptacles with no interior liner, and they’re not close enough to the
park to encourage usage.
There also is a weed control issue that has not been addressed.
Nonetheless, those who use the park are proud of it and have offered
to volunteer to help with the construction of improvements and to begin
keeping the area clean.
The city has set aside $24,000 for improvements toward the park even
though there haven’t been any major projects done in several years.
“What I wanted to point out is, again dollars are available … that
were given for specifically skate park improvement, and those are in
the budget,” Michelle Owen, Baker City director of public works, told
councilors Tuesday night.
The proposed improvements would cost $12,000.
“Which leaves $12,000 in the budget for future opportunities,” she said.
Renovated fountain will spew water for first time since 1974
The fountain glitters a coppery glow in the fall sunshine, which makes Vince Woods smile.
After 36 years of inactivity, this fountain outside the Baker County Courthouse, 1995 Third St., will flow again. (Baker City Herald/Kathy Orr)
“It’s going to be the focal point of this courtyard,” he said.
Woods is head of the facilities department at the Baker County
Courthouse. Last October, he and Nathan Petrucci dismantled the
fountain, which hadn’t spewed water since 1974 when the “Boy with the
Boot” statue was moved inside.
He’d noticed the fountain his first day of work nearly two years ago.
“This was the first eyesore I saw — a big silver monster,” he said.
Since the removal, the fountain parts have been worked on by Cook’s
Radiator, Natural Structures and inmates at Powder River Correctional
“They disassembled and reassembled it numerous times,” Woods said of the inmates. “They did a wonderful job.”
On Wednesday the inmates finished the five-month project by helping
Woods install the fountain in its place at the courthouse, on a new pad
Kevin Blankenship, who is charged with murder in the death of his
38-year-old wife, Christina Blankenship, will enter a plea next month.
An entry of plea had been scheduled Wednesday in Baker County
Circuit Court, but the date was changed at the request of Blankenship’s
attorney, who said more time was needed to receive discovery (evidence
in the investigation) from the state.
During the 20-minute session, a new plea hearing was set for Nov. 23, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Blankenship, 41, has been held at the Baker County Jail since
shortly after the shooting at the couple’s home at 3500 Auburn Ave.
around midnight on Aug. 26.
Blankenship is represented by John Day attorney Dan Cronin. Bob
Whitnah of Baker City has been appointed as co-counsel with a cap of
150 hours, according to court records.
The two attorneys appeared in the courtroom in person Wednesday
along with District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff. Blankenship appeared via
video link from the Baker County Jail and Judge Jeffrey Wallace of
Umatilla County, who presided over the the hearing appeared via video
link from a Hermiston courtroom.