City right to back off

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board August 24, 2012 11:29 am

Bakerr City Herald Editorial Board

Baker City officials were acting responsibly when they tried to offer relief to a couple of private property owners who have suffered due to their proximity to the popular banks of the Powder River.

The complaints from Cathy and Tom Tressler, who live next to the river, and the Baker Elks Lodge, which owns the adjacent Wade Williams Park, are legitimate. These include reports of people parking illegally, littering, and being loud and obnoxious while hanging around the river.

Some of those actions can be illegal whether they happen on private property or on public property, and police should enforce the applicable laws in either case.

Police Chief Wyn Lohner, while taking a Herald reporter on a tour of the area recently, contended that the public can’t get to the river in that area without trespassing on either the Tresslers’ or the Elks’ property.

But that doesn’t appear to be true.

County Assessor Kerry Savage said sections of two unvacated city rights of way lead to the river in that area.

City and county officials are working to sort out property boundaries, rights of way and the like. In the meantime, police won’t issue trespassing citations except in clearcut cases. That’s a good idea.

City officials should protect the rights of recreationalists to access the river just as vigorously as they protect the rights of  private property owners.

We think another good idea would be to add a “River Access” sign to those city right-of-way points that lead to the river to help floaters and fishers avoid trespassing on private property.

Most importantly, those floaters, fishers and others accessing the Powder River should remember that continued use of any property — public or private — depends on the users acting responsibly by respecting the rights of others and cleaning up after themselves.