Baker City needs votes for all-abilities playground

The residents of Baker City are voting for an all-abilities playground grant from the Moda Assist Program. We are in the lead!

But we cannot stop there. Our kids need more votes!

Baker City’s physically disabled youth are a severely underserved demographic. Children in wheelchairs can not get through wood chips or sand. They have to stand by and watch the other kids play. Giving them a new inclusive playground means they can finally join in! Uneven surfacing can also seem like getting through quicksand when walking with braces or crutches.

But that isn’t all...stable swings can provide children with developmental and physical disabilities a chance to swing! My son, for example, a 6-year-old, is not yet able to use a traditional swing. He benefits from a stable seat and he definitely does not fit in those infant seats anymore.

So many possibilities with the chance of an all-abilities playground.

Vote here, once a day: Trailblazers.com/assist

Vote every day, so every child can play!

Until March 20 and check your email for a verification. I only had to do this one time.

Vanessa Spriet

Baker City

Coordination law important to protect citizens

I have to agree with Commissioner Bill Harvey, as based on the Baker City Herald’s Feb. 15 article, as “coordination” is very much misunderstood. Commissioner Harvey pointed out several times; it is not about the County having planning authority over public lands. It is about government to government authority to prevent adverse impacts to the citizens from land management decisions of federal agencies.

In the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, “…Land use plans of the Secretary under this section shall be consistent with State and local plans to the maximum extent he finds consistent with federal law and the purposes of this Act”. If you notice, this is not a may be “consistent” requirement, as the term “shall be consistent…” which means much more.

Look at the definition of consistent in 43 CFR § 1601.0-5(c) “Consistent means that the Bureau of Land Management plans will adhere to the terms, conditions, and decisions of officially approved and adopted resource related plans, or in their absence, with policies and programs, subject to the qualifications in §1615.2 of this title.”

There is similar wording in 16 U.S.C. § 1604(a) for the Forest Service: “[T]he Secretary of Agriculture shall develop, maintain and, as appropriate, revise land and resource management plans for units of the National Forest System, coordinated with the land and resource management planning processes of State and local governments and other Federal agencies.”

Further, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that a federal agency prepare a consistency review for any federal agency action calling for an environmental impact statement (EIS). Specifically, CEQ regulations require that EISs “shall discuss any inconsistency of a proposed action with any approved state or local plan and laws (whether or not federally sanctioned). Where an inconsistency exists, the (EIS) should describe the extent to which the agency would reconcile its proposed action with the plan or law.”

So this coordination requirement with local governments is not something to be ignored by federal land management agencies, it is absolutely required of them.

There are examples worth mentioning, perhaps in future letters. I would love to participate in exploring further the coordination topic.

Guy Michael

Baker City

All-abilities playground equipment benefits all kids

When we discovered that our son would be born with a birth defect that could mean that he would never walk, our first thought was to re-locate to a larger city with more resources for a disabled child. Both during my pregnancy and after he was born, we received an outpouring of support from our community that persuaded us to stay. Those relationships matter to us.

As time went on and our baby is now closing in on preschool, the decision to leave continues to creep into our minds. Our son cannot easily get into or around many buildings in Baker City, and sadly our parks do not offer equipment that is accessible for a wheelchair user. Augustus, at nearly 3 years old, is unable to stand independently. He relies on wheeled mobility devices or the arms of his parents to navigate the world.

Although the playground at Geiser-Pollman Park has seen recent updates, there is not equipment there that he can fully interact with. Accessible playground equipment, which would be purchased with the Moda Assist program dollars, would allow Augustus to play independently from his parents, and fully engage with his brother and his peers appropriately. Augustus is not the only child in our community who needs this option, and all children will benefit from inclusive play opportunities. Accessible playground equipment is not any less fun for able-bodied children! We have been to playgrounds in Portland and Redmond that offer such equipment and the parks are packed with kids who are all doing the same thing: having fun! The support from our community is overwhelming me once again and reconfirming the decision to continue living in Baker City! Please continue to vote for Baker City to receive this playground grant every day through March 20 at www.trailblazers.com/assist

Karla Macy

Baker City

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