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Owyhee debate matters

Parts of the Owyhee country of Malheur County are more than 100 miles from Baker City, but the current debate over how to manage a huge swath of public land in that area has potential ramifications for Northeastern Oregon.

A coalition of environmental groups wants to designate about 2 million acres in Malheur County — that’s the size of Baker County — as federal wilderness.

Another half a million acres would be a “national conservation area.”

Failing a wilderness designation — which requires the approval of Congress — proponents of the Owyhee Canyonlands support unilateral action by President Obama, through the 1906 Antiquities Act, to create a national monument in the Owyhee area.

Saving Bakerís babies

The death of any baby is tragic.

But it seems to us that there is something uniquely terrible about an infant dying not because of a malicious act but because a parent, who perhaps wanted only to cuddle the child to sleep, made a mistake.

We’re writing here about co-sleeping.

Solving 5Jís math problem

The Baker School District has a problem with its math curriculum.

What’s not clear is how big this problem is.

At issue is Engage New York. That’s a math curriculum the district started using last year as it aims to prepare students for the more rigorous state standards known as Common Core.

Letter to the Editor for Oct. 23, 2015

Hillary needs to clarify gun control position

It is time to ask Hillary Clinton for a little clarification on her mantra of universal background checks for gun owners. I am at a loss as to who might not pass one of these background checks. What seems to be gaining traction is “keeping guns out of the hands of those who might use them for nefarious purposes.” School shootings come to mind. The perpetrators are usually mentally deranged so it would make some kind of sense to make sure that they don’t get their hands on a weapon.

So who are these people that might get on a list? I am assuming that federal privacy laws will have to be altered and possibly mental health professionals might have to turn over the names of patients. At the same time we are talking gun control we are talking about the shoddy state of mental health treatment in the United States: depression, teen suicides, etc. I wonder how many will come in for treatment if they think that just going in to talk about personal problems might put them on a gun ownership prohibited list. Our returning vets suffer from sky high suicide rates and the military ranks are filled with a disproportionately high rural recruitment rate, gun-owning rural America. Will our vets opt not to treat PTSD because they might never be allowed to own a gun because they saw a mental health professional at the VA? Domestic violence is another thing that can get you on a gun prohibited list. Are there any provisions to punish a vindictive domestic partner who would use gun control to punish a used to be significant other? What provisions are there for appeals?

Drug possession felonies are sky high and felons are prohibited from owning a gun and many times that is a barrier to getting a nonviolent kid back into the rural lifestyle of hunting or carrying protection while alone in the mountains. The devil is in the details and we need to know just what details you have in mind, Hillary.

Steve Culley

Baker City

The Sumpter dredge: A place where eras collide

Baker County’s embrace of its history is one of the county’s defining traits, but in a few places the boundary between its past and its present is a membrane so thin that it hardly seems to be there at all.

Here the decades share close quarters and I fancy I can hear voices long since silenced, can see faces compress into that crystalline focus peculiar to photographs made from glass plate negatives.

The Sumpter dredge is one of those places.

Inflaming the gun debate

The issue of guns is complicated.

There’s more than one issue, of course, which partially explains the complexity.

We’re skeptical, then, when someone suggests that the matter can be distilled to the conflict between Americans who “favor gun rights” and those who “favor gun control."

Letter to the Editor for Oct. 19, 2015

Hoped Mike Meyer would be appointed to City Council

I was sorry to see that Mike Meyer didn’t get picked for City Council. Not that I don’t think Sandy Lewis shouldn’t have been picked, I don’t know her nor anything about her. What I do know is that Mike Meyer is like a breath of fresh air, just by reading his letters to the editor. He has a fresh view and heaven knows we need that. He showed his mettle by the sad theft of his garden at the community plot, Mike handled it with a sense of humor as well as a touch of sadness.

I just hope Mike continues to write often, I would also like him to know he has more voices like his than he realizes in Baker City. I have found no better city to be retired in and I don’t know if there is one. Baker City is a great unknown on the map and every once in a while it is refreshing that someone of Mike’s obvious quality finds us.

Thanks, Mike, and next year when my fruit trees produce (weather permitting, something you’ll learn about Baker City) I will gladly share my harvest with you and your wife. If you see a tall man carrying a stick out walking early in the morning with his lovely wife by his side, stop and say hi.

Bill Ward

Baker City

The future of a fish

Much of the attention given to the status of the bull trout in and around Baker County over the past 16 years has focused on the potential effects on livestock grazing, irrigation for farming, logging and other natural resources industries.

But the bull trout recovery plan the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released this month reminds us that this fish, which has been a threatened species since 1999, could also affect recreation — specifically, fishing for brook trout.

City made good deal

The Baker City Council made a good deal this week with retiring City Manager Mike Kee.

That it’s also a good deal for Kee doesn’t change this.

From shivering to sweltering: We call it October

The season of the sleeve length conundrum has lasted longer than usual in Baker County.

We deal with this dilemma every autumn — and occasionally during spring — but this year’s version seems to me especially fraught with difficulty.

The trouble, as anyone knows who has passed more than a few falls around here, is the temperature.

Specifically the daily temperature fluctuations — what meteorologists, who like all specialists cultivate a jargon that’s as useful as hieroglyphics to people outside the field, refer to as the “diurnal range."

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