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Use every tool with the feds

Bill Harvey, the new chairman of the Baker County Board of Commissioners, speaks with passion about protecting Baker County from the onerous and sometimes just plain silly decisions federal agencies make regarding the 1 million acres of the county that are public land.

(That’s about half the county’s area, by the way.)

We agree with Harvey about the importance of this topic, and we like his enthusiasm.

Ultimately, though, we want Harvey and fellow commissioners Mark Bennett and Tim L. Kerns to employ the strategy that gives the county the loudest possible voice, as it were, in exerting its influence over how federal agencies manage that massive chunk of ground that’s so vital to our economy and our way of life.

Future for mining? Why not?

We came away from the first Eastern Oregon Mining Summit with newfound optimism about the future of the industry on which Baker County was founded.

The Jan. 27 event in Baker City invigorated us mainly because several speakers said the reason large-scale gold mining has pretty much disappeared in Oregon is the widespread perception, among mining companies and investors, that the state’s laws and permitting process discourage mining.

But that’s not the case, speakers said.

Future of our farms

The news came in like an early frost or a summer hailstorm with stones the size of grapes.

The announcement that Baker Valley’s eight potato growers will have to find a new buyer soon if they are to plant about 3,000 acres in spuds reminds us that agriculture, Baker County’s most valuable industry, faces threats other than untimely weather, a risk that might well be increasing due to climate change.

In this case a corporation, Heinz, decided to change.

But farmers and ranchers are also potentially vulnerable to decisions by government agencies.

Letters to the Editor for Feb. 6, 2015

Roe v. Wade: A legacy of wasting lives

Ask most Americans if they know what Roe vs. Wade was all about, and they can identify it as the Supreme Court decision which overturned dozens of state laws and made abortions legal at any stage of pregnancy. It is most likely the best known Supreme Court case of our time. That decision was handed down around this time of year.

In the forty-some years since then, around 55 million abortions have taken place in this country. If those aborted fetuses had been allowed to continue to term, a majority of them would now be adults. Most would have lived very ordinary lives. They would have worked as waitresses and long haul truck drivers, grease monkeys and bank tellers. Some would have become professionals — teachers, doctors, journalists, lawyers, accountants. Many would have joined the military, or a labor union, or a church.

Most would have married. They could have become the husbands and wives of our children and the parents of our grandchildren.

A few would have been extraordinary people. Perhaps one would have become a scientist, who would discover a cure for cancer. One might have become an outstanding baseball player, inspiring thousands of young fans. One might have become a philanthropist, whose charitable efforts would brighten the lives of otherwise wretchedly unhappy people. One could have been a writer, whose poetry brought beauty into human hearts.

But we’ll never know what might have been, for those 55 million little human beings were not allowed ever to see the light of day. That potential human wealth is lost forever.

Children are our dearest treasure. We love them, nourish them, guide them and protect them from harm. We rightly despise the human demons that enter schools and snuff out innocent lives. Yet since Roe vs. Wade, we as a nation have thrown away so many of our children.

Pete Sundin

Baker City

Midwinter, and spring overtakes most of Oregon

On a date that defines the term “depths of winter,” we drove most of the way across an Oregon which seemed to have persuaded itself that spring had arrived two months early.

Until we got home to Baker County, anyway.

The date was Jan. 25.

The route was the topographic roller coaster from Salem to Baker City via Highways 22, 20, 126, 26 and 7.

The more relevant numbers, though, are 4,817, 4,720, 4,369, 5,277 and 5,124.

Those are the elevations at the summits of the major passes along the way (in order, from west to east, Santiam Pass, Ochoco Summit, Keyes Creek near Mitchell, Dixie Butte and Tipton).

Letter to the Editor for Feb. 4, 2015

Maybe Idaho Power will understand Dr. Seuss

Dear Idaho Power, please find in the enclosed parcel:  

1 (one) GPS (Global Positioning System) navigator. 

I am sending you this because you are obviously lost or your route planners are complete morons.  You are definitely in the wrong place. Permission to run your power lines is, to the west of here, an Energy Corridor generously mapped out by our government to help you, a private company, shuffle your power around with minimum hassle to generate dividends for your shareholders, obviously none of whom live in this area. 

1 (one) Unabridged Merriam-Webster Dictionary dog-eared on page 969 where you will find the word, ‘no’ highlighted with a yellow marking pen. It is a fascinating word, an adverb, usually used to answer a question. But you never asked any questions. You just barged your way in with wrong assumptions, such as:  

• That we rural Oregonians wouldn’t care if your unnecessary, ghoulish, ugly transmission lines scar and desecrate our rural landscape.

• That you could turn a quick buck compromising our lifestyle and values.

1 (one) hearing aid generously donated by the Dr. Seuss Audio Corporation. This hearing aid is top-of-the-line and you should have no problem hearing what we here in Baker County are saying and have been saying all along:

We do not want your transmission lines

We do not want to hear them whine

We do not want them here or there

We do not want them anywhere

We do not want them near our house

We do not want to disturb sage grouse

We do not like them high and spanned

We do not like them on our land

We do not want them through the trees 

Why can’t you just let us be?

We do not like your company 

We like our vistas pylon free

We do not want lines near or far

Why can’t you leave things as they are? 

We do not want your power grid 

We will not feed your greedy id 

We do not want your lines here or there

We do not want them anywhere! 

Whit Deschner

Baker City

Botching block grants

We understand why Haines City Recorder Valerie Russell was surprised to learn that the Baker County town, in the span of a single year, had become rather affluent.

Haines had not, in fact, done anything of the sort.

We’d rather report otherwise, but the reality is that Haines, population 416, along with much of the rest of Baker County and indeed rural Oregon, has been slow to recover from the Great Recession.

No need to restrict snowmobiles

We were pleased to hear from Dan Ermovick, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest’s recreation planner, that a new Forest Service snowmobile policy won’t have any immediate effect on snowmobilers on the Wallowa-Whitman.

We’ll be happier still if it turns out there’s no significant long-term effect, either.

There shouldn’t be one.

Wolf news: Good for everyone

The return of wolves to Oregon over the past several years has been a polarizing issue, with a pro-wolf camp, an anti-wolf camp, and little room between for the ambivalent to pitch their tents.

But the latest wolf news gives people on both sides of the debate reasons to, if not celebrate, then at least applaud politely.

Now that biologists have confirmed at least seven pairs of wolves have produced pups — and at least four pairs have done so for three straight years in Northeastern Oregon — the state has moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2 in its wolf management plan.

A wonderful man is gone, but his legacy lingers

I was in a motel room in Meridian, Idaho, when I got the word that my brother-in-law, Bill Pennick, had been taken to the hospital after his heart stopped.

Bill died a couple days later, on Jan. 20, at Salem Memorial Hospital.

He was 41.

It seems to me not only tragic, but also ridiculous that a man who never smoked and was active and otherwise healthy should die at that age from a heart problem.

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