Harvey’s change on county role in managing federal land

I was quite surprised to read in Feb. 15 edition of the Baker City Herald that Baker County Commissioner Bill Harvey now admits, “We don’t have supremacy over the (public) land.” Surprised, because from the moment he became Commissioner four years ago, that is exactly the misinformation he propagated, including giving a speech in Crook County in March 2016, where he stated, “Coordination status would put Crook County’s local government on equal footing with the federal government.” (my emphasis.)

Harvey also subscribed to the same nonsense that led the Bundys to take over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. That nonsense being that federal land should be “given back” to the states and counties. The same claim was included in Resolution 15-01 drafted by and approved by the Baker County Republican Central Committee on May 7, 2015. In an email dated May 12, 2015, Suzan Ellis Jones, Chair, wrote the following: “The Baker County Republican Party passed a resolution (15-1) to promote the transfer of public lands back to local control. (My emphasis.) Our next step is to take (it) to the Baker County Commissioners and hope they will pass a similar resolution.”

Both Harvey and the Baker County Republican Central Committee ignored the historic record, which clearly states that public domain land in the West was never owned by states and counties where such land exists.

I challenged both Harvey and the local Republican organization to quit complaining and just go ahead and sue the federal government, since that is the only way they can force the feds to “give the land back.” At the same time, I asked both Harvey and Jones, if Baker County obtained ownership over present federal land, how would Baker County come up with the money to pay for just one airplane load of fire retardant to fight a wildfire. Never got a response.

Gary Dielman

Baker City