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Watching Congress on wilderness

If the Senate’s action this week foreshadows the future of public land legislation under Democratic control, that future could be interesting indeed.

And potentially disappointing for advocates — and we included ourselves among them — of an equitable federal policy.

Senators had hardly arrived at the Capitol when Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduced the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S.22). The act would, among many other things, designate as wilderness five areas in Oregon, totaling about 203,000 acres of public land (none of those areas is in Northeastern Oregon).

We don’t oppose creating any of those wilderness areas.

Letters to the editor for January 9, 2009

Lettters to the editor for January 7, 2009

Don’t have a cow, now

The government’s getting ready to tax cow flatulence and burps.

Sure it sounds ludicrous.

But the government’s involved, a fact which makes plausible even the most hare-brained of schemes.

We certainly won’t try to convince anyone that the government’s incapable of imposing nonsensical and economically ruinous laws.

But neither do we want Baker County ranchers to worry unduly that they’ll lose their operation if they can’t teach their herds some manners.

Here’s what the government has actually done:

Last July the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced what it calls an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” regarding “potential regulatory approaches” to dealing with greenhouse gases.

Letters to the editor for January 6, 2009

City plows ahead and does its job

The great thing about snow is that it melts.

Glaciers are rather more persistent, of course, but there aren’t any of those in Baker County.

Yet the temporary nature of snow is small consolation to anyone whose car is marooned behind a chest-high wall of congealed slush.

Or to someone who lives along a street where the blacktop hasn’t been visible for a couple of weeks.

Both situations have happened this winter in Baker City.

Both have happened in plenty of winters past and, barring a radical shift in climate, both will continue to happen.

On balance, though, the snow that accumulates on our streets is more an annoyance than the near-disaster that some critics of the city’s snow-control strategy seem to believe it is.

In general the city deals with snow and ice in an appropriate and competent way.

Government protects pupils, but allows a chain-saw free for all

I used to think, as I suspect most people do, that a chain saw posed a greater threat to eyesight than a contact lens does.

Recent events have forced me to reconsider the comparative danger of the two items.

The thing is, it’s easier nowadays to procure a chain saw — or for that matter pretty much any powered implement with sharp metal pieces that spin really fast — than it is to replace the contact lens you washed down the drain.

Or snapped in half, as I did last Saturday.

I was cleaning the lens, too, which amplified my frustration.

Few things annoy me as completely as preventive maintenance that backfires.

It’s like changing the oil in your car and then blowing a piston because you forget to tighten the drain plug.

Letter to the editor for January 2, 2009


The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has been nibbling for close to two decades now at the problem of overcrowded timber stands that are abnormally susceptible to wildfires.

But now Wallowa-Whitman officials want to take a big bite.

They’re proposing a series of five timber sales on the southern flanks of the Wallowa Mountains that would constitute the largest logging job on the forest since the early 1990s.

The Snow Basin project, which is near Eagle Creek north of Richland, could start in 2010 and result in as much as 70 million board-feet of timber being sold over five years.

The Wallowa-Whitman hasn’t sold more than 30 million board-feet, with all timber sales combined, in any single fiscal year since 2001.

Letters to the editor for January 1, 2009

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