On Aug. 25 U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) wrote to the U.S. Forest Service to urge changes to the controversial Blue Mountains Forest Plan revision. At town hall meetings in Eastern Oregon this month, Walden heard strong concerns from local communities that their needs and wishes were ignored in this plan.

In a letter to Regional Forester Jim Peña, Walden wrote, “The federally managed forests that span throughout Eastern Oregon provide significant economic and cultural benefits to local communities. In addition to the economic value these forests hold, accessing and utilizing these lands is a way of life for area residents. However, these forests are in poor condition and dire need of proper management that will restore forest health, reduce catastrophic wildfire, and sustain the economies in these rural communities. Unfortunately, it seems that this plan falls short of meeting these needs of the forest and the communities.

“Over the past year, communities surrounded by the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests have expressed deep concerns with the direction of this plan. At all of my recent town halls and other public meetings in these communities, I heard from a variety of constituents and local elected officials who have found that this plan not only fails to meet the needs of their communities, but also fails to achieve the desired conditions for the forest as well,” Walden continued.

In concluding the letter, Walden urged the agency to work with local communities to make changes to the plan, and invited the regional forester to Eastern Oregon to discuss the plan. “I hope that you will reassess the proposal and engage with these local communities to develop a plan that accurately reflects existing forest conditions and outlines objectives that will reach the needed environmental and economic outcomes. I look forward to having you join me on the ground in Eastern Oregon to discuss this plan and other issues on our national forests that so greatly impact Oregon’s rural communities,” Walden wrote.

Earlier this month, Walden heard strong opposition to the plan at town halls and other public meetings in Harney, Grant, Union, Umatilla, and Wallowa counties. For example, concerns have been voiced that the plan doesn’t provide adequate timber production for the region and fails to restore forest health by allowing active management on more land. Last month, the Eastern Oregon Counties Association unanimously rejected the proposed plan.

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Due to scheduling conflicts, the Harney County Court held its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 21.

During the meeting, the court discussed a letter that it received from Brent Fenty, executive director of Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), regarding the Oregon Desert Trail (ODT).

On Nov. 15, 2013, ONDA, in coordination with several conservation organizations, submitted a formal request to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish an 800-mile trail system across multiple counties in Central and Eastern Oregon. Spanning from the Oregon Badlands Wilderness in Central Oregon to Lake Owyhee State Park near the Oregon/Idaho border, the ODT crosses portions of Deschutes, Harney, Lake and Malheur counties.

On Jan. 8, 2014, representatives from all four affected counties wrote a letter to Fenty, BLM State Director Jerry Perez, and USFWS Pacific Region Director Robyn Thorson expressing concerns about the ODT proposal and requesting that ONDA convene public forums in Bend, Burns, Lakeview and Vale.

Fenty attended a Community Response Team meeting (held April 2 in Burns) to introduce Harney County residents to a proposal to designate the ODT as a National Recreation Trail.

After the presentation, some members of the public expressed concerns. Examples of these concerns included ONDA’s history of environmental litigation, how the trail designation might impact motorized-vehicle access, whether signs would be posted along the trail, the potential impact on rural search and rescue operations, the economic impact on nearby communities, and whether trail designation is truly necessary.

Fenty responded to some of these concerns in a letter dated Aug. 15.

During the Aug. 21 court meeting, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty requested that the county commissioners review the letter and consider how to respond to it.

If we simply accept this [letter], it may appear that we’re agreeing, and I don’t,” Grasty said. “I think they have missed some of the big issues that we asked about, and there may be some other points that we want to make in this.”

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols said, “There is just nothing good — nothing good about this at all. It’s a ploy, and it’s a very well-conceived chess move.”

Nichols said he believed the trail designation would build a foundation for future regulation.

In his letter, Fenty addressed concerns regarding the development of land-use restrictions along the trail route by stating, “ONDA continues to work separately on conservation efforts, such as wilderness [designations] across Oregon’s high desert; however, the ODT proposal, and the associated National Recreation Trail concept, was not intended to be a change in land use designations along the route, and we welcome county and other stakeholder input on state designations or other management approaches that would be most appropriate for a trail of this type.”

Fenty went on to discuss the possibility of seeking an “Oregon Scenic Trail” or “Oregon Regional Trail” designation through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, noting that a state designation may be a way to “highlight trails, as opposed to creating new regulatory criteria.”

However, Grasty said “We don’t support federal or state trail designation.”

Grasty added that he thinks ONDA should complete the full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process at its own expense, adding that the organization may also need to obtain multiple land use permits. Grasty also stated that the trail is rarely used, and he questioned the necessity of the designation.

The court will attempt to meet with the other affected counties to formulate a joint response to the letter.


The proposed land exchange between the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) and Tree Top Ranches (located southeast of Crane) was also a topic of discussion during the meeting.

A public hearing will be held Tuesday, Sept. 30, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Harney County Community Center, 484 N. Broadway in Burns.

The hearing will provide an opportunity for DSL to inform the public about the proposed exchange and respond to concerns that were raised during the public comment period earlier this year.

“I’m pretty pleased they are going to have a public hearing,” Grasty said, acknowledging that the issue has raised controversy.

Grasty added that Tree Top Ranches is offering a tour of the land that would be affected by the proposed exchange, and he encouraged anyone who is concerned about the proposal to take the tour.

For more information regarding the proposed land exchange, visit: www.oregon.gov/dsl/LW/Pages/Tree-Top-Exchange.aspx.


In other business, the court:

• was informed by Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels that efforts to manage the wild horse population are ongoing.

Runnels said a wild horse sanctuary has been proposed, but he doesn’t know whether the idea will move forward;

• learned from Grasty that the BLM provided funding for a project to convert Harney County’s mining claim documents into a searchable database for mineral investigations and land use planning;

• discussed sage grouse. Grasty said the USFWS is accepting input concerning whether it should list sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

He said, up until this point, he’d been focusing on the BLM’s Resource Management Plan Amendment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RMPA/DEIS) and the state’s Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon).

However, he is now looking to put together a meeting of local interest groups to determine how to respond, when to respond, and who should respond to the listing decision. Grasty added that he will try to engage other counties in this effort, as well;

• resumed its conversation concerning a map of roads within Harney County. Grasty said he had not received any additional comments since the previous meeting. He added that he plans to schedule an hour or two to “work through what we’ve heard and figure out where we’re going;”

• approved Resolution 2014-11 in the matter of confirming and declaring the Housing Authority of Malheur County to be the Regional Housing Authority for Malheur and Harney Counties, as the Housing Authority of Malheur County has operated as a regional housing authority for both Malheur and Harney counties since approximately 1977.

Runnels reported that Malheur County has already signed the joint resolution;

• appointed Leon Neuschwander, and re-appointed Wayne Evans, to the Harney County Planning Commission;

• received a copy of a letter that Ruth Danielsen wrote to the BLM concerning the denial of the application for grazing permit renewal for Hammond Ranches Inc.;

• learned from Nichols that the new landfill pit in Diamond has been dug.

He said, “DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] was very helpful in that process.”

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

The Kids Club of Harney County was the recipient of funds raised in the third annual Thunder Ride Poker Run, held Aug. 16 by the ThunderRiders motorcycle club. The ThunderRiders presented a check to the Kids Club for $85 on Thursday, Aug. 21. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

The Kids Club of Harney County was the recipient of funds raised in the third annual Thunder Ride Poker Run, held Aug. 16 by the ThunderRiders motorcycle club. The ThunderRiders presented a check to the Kids Club for $85 on Thursday, Aug. 21. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

The ThunderRiders held their third annual Poker Run, sponsored by the Central Pastime, on Saturday, Aug. 16, with 17 people taking part in the event.

The ThunderRiders selected the Kids Club of Harney County as the local charity to receive half of the proceeds this year.

Beth Calkins was the first-place finisher, winning half of the proceeds, a trophy and a steak dinner at the Central Pastime.

Second place went to Susan Ohlund Simmons, who won a $25 gift certificate from NAPA .

Andy Glick took third place and was awarded a steak dinner from the Central Pastime.

The winner of the battery charger, donated by Steve Sparks, was Mike McDevitt.

OBIT Bertelsen webShirley Ann Carlson Bertelsen, 69, passed away Aug. 10, in Eugene, surrounded by her family and loved ones.

She was born June 20, 1945, in Burns, to Albin and Vivian Carlson. She was the second of four children and the only daughter.

Shirley was raised in Hines, attended Hines Grade School and graduated from Burns Union High School in 1963, where she made many life-long friends. Shirley moved to Eugene in 1964 to attend beauty school. She met and married Roger Bertelsen the following year. They settled in Eugene, building their happy life together, and completed their family with the addition of their daughter, Carlene, and son, Gary.

Shirley is remembered in Eugene as the owner and operator of the Hair Loft Salons and Bubba’s restaurant, where she befriended her staff and customers; turning friends into extended family.

Shirley was well known for her devotion to her four grandchildren, Hans, Hailey, Kate and Leah. She also loved to spend time with her basset hounds and tend her stunning garden. Her family and friends will miss her fun-loving spirit, ability to take on any challenge, and her boldness and enthusiasm for life.

Shirley is survived by her husband, Roger; daughter, Carlene Elliott and husband, Georden; son, Gary Bertelsen and wife, Megan; grandchildren, Hans, Hailey, Kate and Leah; brothers, Rick, Jeff and Curt Carlson.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 3, at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum in Eugene.


Robert W. Howes, 82, passed away Aug. 19 at his home in Hines.

A full obituary and memorial service information will follow at a later date.

Wednesday August 27

Posted on August 27th in Community Calendar

Harney County Health District board of directors meets the fourth Wednesday of each month in the board conference room of the hospital, in the entrance off N. Grand, at 6 p.m.

Burns City Council meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at Burns City Hall, 242 S. Broadway, at 6 p.m.

Burns Butte Sportsmen’s Club invites the public to their summer “Twilight” trap practice to be held from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. every Wednesday, running through the month of September. The practices will be held at the trap range on Radar Hill. It is a great time to get started or improve your skills. There are instructors for beginners.

Free cardio-kick classes are offered Wednesday evenings, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at Faith Baptist Church. The classes are good for beginning to moderate workouts, and everyone is welcome. For more information call 541-573-7777.

Bring babies to Lapsit Storytime at Harney County Library, 80 W. D St., each Wednesday at 10 a.m. Enjoy music, stories, rhymes and fingerplays especially for babies and toddlers.

Storytime for preschoolers is scheduled at the Harney County Library, 80 W. D St., each Wednesday at 10:30  a.m. Contact the Harney County Library for more information, 541-573 6670.

A Women’s AA meeting is held every Wednesday at noon at Foursquare Church, 74 S. Alvord, Burns.

Alcoholics Anonymous meets each Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Foursquare Church, 74 S. Alvord, Burns.

ALANON, a support group for friends and families of alcoholics, meets each Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Foursquare Church, 74 S. Alvord, Burns. Please use the back door on the south side of the building. All interested are welcome.

Thursday August 28

Posted on August 27th in Community Calendar

Harney County Soil and Water Conservation District board of directors meets the fourth Thursday of each month at the USDA Service Center in Hines at 4:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

A Walking Class is held each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from  10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. indoors at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center.

Kiwanis Club of Burns-Hines meets for a no-host luncheon at noon each Thursday at Bella Java, 314 N. Broadway in Burns.

Take Off Pounds Sensibly meets at noon each Thursday at Hines City Hall, 101 E. Barnes. Call 541-573-2896.

Tai Chi for Better Balance with Diane Rapaport is held each Tuesday and Thursday at Harney County Senior and Community Services Center from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — free.

Friday August 29

Posted on August 27th in Community Calendar

A recovery group, “Celebrate Recovery,” meets each Friday at the Harney County Church of the Nazarene, 311 Roe Davis Ave. in Hines. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. The main meeting is held at 6 p.m. and small group sessions are at 7 p.m. For more information, call 541-573-7100.

Alcoholics Anonymous meets each Friday at Symmetry Care at 5 p.m.

Saturday August 30

Posted on August 27th in Community Calendar

Harney County Farmers Market from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Hines City Park.


Sunday August 31

Posted on August 27th in Community Calendar

Alcoholics Anonymous meets every Sunday at 7 p.m. at Foursquare Church for 12×12 study.


Whaddya Think?

If you had to be the same age forever, which age would you choose to be?
  • 35 (45%)
  • 21 (19%)
  • 45 or older (19%)
  • 5 (6%)
  • 16 (6%)
  • 18 (5%)

47 total vote(s)

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Destination Harney County

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