Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Cutting back on National Guard helicopter flights designed to find marijuana-growing sites, in order to save a pittance in the federal budget, is a bad bargain for Baker County.

We hope Congress fixes that flaw in President Obama's proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

So long as marijuana is illegal, there will be great temptation for people to grow it in remote areas.

Which pretty much describes quite a lot of Baker County - including the million acres (half the county's area) of public land.

These isolated plantations pose considerable danger to hikers, hunters, ATV riders and others.

The potential threats include chemicals, booby traps and gun-toting "guards."

Fortunately, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., advocates for continuing the interdiction flights.

Ideally such flights wouldn't be necessary. But until that ideal becomes reality, the public who pay the federal government's bills deserve the protection that regular surveillance flights provides.