U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., was in Baker City Wednesday morning to attend a meeting of the Eastern Oregon Counties Association at the Courthouse.
Walden discussed the recent Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision as well as the federal Farm Bill.
The new long-term management plans for the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur national forests have prompted several complaints by Baker County commissioners and their counterparts elsewhere in the region, on issues such as the amount of timber harvest and livestock grazing, as well as motor vehicle access.
Walden asked county officials to compile a list of their most important concerns about the plans. He said he would take that list to Forest Service officials.
“I am ready to do whatever it takes,” said Walden, a 10-term congressman who is running in the Nov. 6 election against Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner of Terrebonne, near Redmond.
Several county commissioners said Wednesday that they don’t think the Forest Service should be trying to manage wildlife, citing parts of the revised forest plans dealing with elk habitat.
As for the federal Farm Bill, Walden told commissioners that the House of Representatives has approved the legislation but the Senate hasn’t voted on it.
Walden said he voted for the bill, but that many senators in the West are opposed.
Walden also gave Union County Commissioner Steve McClure an award for his 28 years of service as a commissioner. McClure has 107 days left in his last term, as of the date of the meeting. He is the second-longest serving commissioner in the state.
After the Eastern Oregon Counties Association meeting, the Baker County commissioners reconvened for their regular meeting.
Commissioners approved the potential sale of a county property on Hunt Mountain west of Haines. The county acquired the property due to a foreclosure after the owner failed to pay property taxes. The 160-acre parcel, high on the northeast side of the mountain, will be sold via sheriff sale auction and the bidding will start at $80,000. The assessed value of the property is $90,000.
Sales revenue would go to the county parks department.
Commissioners also discussed the chance that Unity voters have to elect city councilors Nov. 6.
Commissioners have been serving as the city’s elected representatives since 2010 due to a lack of interest among city residents in serving as councilors.
To form a city council, Unity voters would have to elect at least three people — by write-in votes as there are no candidates on the ballot — who are willing to serve. Those councilors would then need to appoint at least two people to reach the minimum slate of five councilors.
Unity has a population of 75, of whom 45 are registered to vote.