To the editor:
I am writing seeking public comment to limit development on public lands that could impact the Baker Valley viewshed. BLM is revising its 1989 plan that provides for future management of public lands in Baker and adjoining counties. My concern is development on public lands that will impact the visual aesthetics of Baker Valley. This could include wind turbines, gravel pits, cell towers or other structures that would limit or obstruct our view. Public lands are available for these uses, as long as the applicant complies with BLM regulations and it is not within a wilderness or other protected area.
I live in Western Heights, and the wind turbines near North Powder are visible day and night. It is feasible that the entire eastern horizon, from those turbines past the Interpretive Center to the cell towers on the peak and beyond, could be dotted with turbines or other structures. I am not advocating that development on public lands be prohibited. My only plea is for BLM to direct placement of such obstructions so that they are not visible from the valley floor. Obviously, we can't control what private landowners do with their property, but we do have a voice with BLM, which manages over 5.1 million acres in Eastern Oregon plenty of room for out-of-sight development.
BLM is asking for public input. If you are a concerned citizen like myself, please express your opinion by attending the public meeting on Thursday, July 24 between 4 and 7 p.m. at Baker Field Office on 11th Street (behind Cashway Lumber). If you can't make the public meeting, you can mail your comments to the Baker office, or email them to blm.gov/or/districts/vale. Public comments will be considered in the development of the draft plan. Opportunities for future comments on the draft plan will be possible, steering BLM to a final plan that will be in place for the next 15 to 20 years. If we want to preserve the uniqueness and scenic surroundings of Baker Valley, we need to direct that obstructions be placed in seldom seen areas. This is your opportunity to help direct what you want to see from your front window.