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The burning question

In the aftermath of the biggest wildfire in Baker County history, salvage logging is a major topic of discussion.

And a major source of frustration.

We understand why.

A pressing problem: Which urine protects best?

Should I douse my wife’s garden with the urine of a wolf or a cougar?

As you can imagine, this conundrum is cutting into my sleep.

Nor are my choices, in the realm of liquid produce protection, limited to apex carnivores.

Maybe I can confuse as well as frighten the tomato-gobbling deer and the blackberry-pecking robins by sowing the place with the excretory scent of the fisher, a diminutive but apparently quite vicious type of weasel.

Bikes and fire: Not a good mix

Cycle Oregon’s first visit to Baker County since 2008 didn’t go as intended.

Like so much else this summer, the week-long event that brought 2,200 bicyclists and a couple hundred support workers to the county was affected by wildfire.

The Dry Gulch fire, specifically, which was ignited Saturday afternoon when a driver lost control of his pickup truck on Eagle Creek Road near New Bridge and crashed, sparking a vehicle fire that spread into the parched grass and brush beside the road.

Letter to the Editor for Sept. 16, 2015

‘Protecting’ our public forests is burning them up

This year has been a traumatic year for rural communities in the Pacific Northwest. As has been the case in prior years, this year a common comment from Forest Service management has been, “We need more money to fight fires!” It is almost a mantra every year.  

With such a financial bind the Forest Service is in, why is closing and decommissioning roads such an important factor for their management of our public lands? Roads are vital to so many of the uses the public has for public lands.  A forest supervisor even admitted earlier this year the current (non-travel management plan) road system is a large factor in quick and successful initial attacks on fires in his forest. Several firefighters have stated how appreciative they were of roads and how much easier their job was. Roads even used as fire lines.

Sept. 11, 2015, photos were taken of a dozer re-opening a closed road in order to gain access to a wildfire. In one photo, three Forest Service pickups and one Forest Service fire engine were parked with several Forest Service employees standing and watching the dozer. This dozer operator was hired to travel up and open the road. When they are done fighting the fire, it will most likely be re-closed. Is closing, opening and then again closing roads a good use of tax dollars? Are the new bills in Congress going to be paying for these sorts of things? The issue isn’t a lack of funding, it’s a lack of efficient use of the funds given them. 

The ideology behind protecting public lands is a dream that doesn’t factor in reality.  The reality of financial situations, public safety, the reality that these lands were intended to support local economies. The reality that without logging, without restoration and without active management, we will continue to choke on more and more smoke and burn up more and more tax dollars on idiotic actions like I explained above. Eventually there won’t be communities to protect from fires and the Forest Service won’t have any reason to exist anymore.

Donald George


Letters to the Editor for Sept. 14, 2015

Boardman-to-Hemingway line won’t go away

Do you think that the Boardman to Hemingway power line has gone away? Not a chance. I expect that the BLM will issue its decision just before the holidays. Since we will have only 30 days to respond, great timing, likely on purpose. We get to study lots of pages, they get to eat turkey.

You can be sure that the BLM and Idaho Power are working hard to come up with all the benefits for Baker County. Even after almost 400 people sent letters that objected to all parts of the project.

Touring the burn: Fire’s effects are haphazard

I spent a few hours last week having a look at a small part of the biggest wildfire in Baker County history. As with every other blaze I’ve toured, I was intrigued by the random nature by which flames inflict their marks on the land.

On the afternoon three weeks to the day after the Cornet fire roared through on its way to link up with the Windy Ridge fire, I walked a couple miles on the ridge between Trail Creek and the Dooley Mountain Highway.

Two mornings later I drove the Trail Creek Road up to the Skyline Road, then west across Dooley Summit and down the 1130 road through Stices Gulch and back to the highway.

I know most of this country pretty well.

Another sunny September

That day was very much like today.

Fourteen years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, there were scarcely any clouds, in Baker City or in New York City, to impede the late-summer sunshine.

In Baker the temperature dipped to 39 degrees that morning, then climbed to 90 in the afternoon.

Today’s forecast temperatures are almost identical.

The similarities, though, between that day and today, end with the weather.

Sept. 11, 2001, was a landmark, a dividing point after which nothing was the same, notwithstanding superficial matters such as the clarity of a blue sky.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 9, 2015

We want to look at mountains, not cell towers

Cell phone towers? We don’t need no stinking towers.

What is it with you people? First it was — and still is — Idaho Power wanting to pollute our view with power lines and now you, Verizon want to build not one but two 100-foot cell towers right in town. And why, so far, all the secrecy? Are you worried we don’t want them? We don’t. (Besides, better coverage isn’t going to help me make less mistakes while texting as I drive.)

State sides with EPA over ag industry

The saddest part of the following question is that we even need to ask it.

Does Oregon’s state government care more about empowering federal bureaucrats than it does about the ranchers and farmers whose operations contribute billions of dollars annually to the state economy?

We don’t blame the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association for posing that query.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 7, 2015

Fires show the need to actively manage our forests

One of the many excuses to restrict use of our public lands by the Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur National Forests is that we need to “preserve” our forest for the next generation, the only problem is, the Forest Service isn’t doing that. The Forest Service, with assistance from their partners in the local environmental community, allow our forest to degenerate into fuel dense stands waiting to take our homes and property with it.

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