Conservation efforts recognized

An unprecedented, landscape-scale conservation effort across the western United States has significantly reduced threats to the greater sage grouse across 90 percent of the species’ breeding habitat and enabled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to conclude that the charismatic rangeland bird does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This collaborative, science-based greater sage grouse strategy is the largest land conservation effort in U.S. history.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement Tuesday, Sept. 22 on Twitter with a video that explains why the sage grouse decision is historic and sets the groundwork for a 21st-century approach to conservation.

The FWS reached this determination after evaluating the bird’s population status, along with the collective efforts by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS), state agencies, private landowners, and other partners to conserve its habitat. Despite long-term population declines, sage grouse remain relatively abundant and well-distributed across the species’ 173-million acre range. After a thorough analysis of the best available scientific information and taking into account ongoing key conservation efforts and their projected benefits, the FWS has determined the bird does not face the risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future and therefore does not need protection under the ESA.

“This is truly a historic effort – one that represents extraordinary collaboration across the American West,” said Jewell. “It demonstrates that the Endangered Species Act is an effective and flexible tool and a critical catalyst for conservation – ensuring that future generations can enjoy the diversity of wildlife that we do today. The epic conservation effort will benefit westerners and hundreds of species that call this iconic landscape home, while giving states, businesses and communities the certainty they need to plan for sustainable economic development.”

Jewell made the announcement at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge alongside Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Bonnie, FWS Director Dan Ashe, BLM Director Neil Kornze, USFS Chief Tom Tidwell, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller, and U.S. Geological Survey Acting Director Suzette Kimball.

“Today’s decision reflects the joint efforts by countless ranchers and partners who have worked so hard to conserve wildlife habitat and preserve the Western way of life,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Together, we have shown that voluntary efforts joining the resources of private landowners, federal and state agencies, and partner organizations can help drive landscape-level conservation that is good for sage grouse, ranching operations, and rural communities. Through the comprehensive initiatives on both public and private lands, the partnership has made and will continue to make monumental strides in supporting the people and wildlife that depend on the sagebrush landscape.”

The FWS’s Sept. 30, 2015 deadline to review the status of the species spurred numerous federal agencies, the 11 states in the range, and dozens of public and private partners to undertake an extraordinary campaign to protect, restore and enhance important sage grouse habitat to preclude the need to list the species. This effort featured: new management direction for BLM and Forest Service land use plans that place greater emphasis on conserving sage grouse habitat; development of state sage grouse management plans; voluntary, multi-partner private lands effort to protect millions of acres of habitat on ranches and rangelands across the West; unprecedented collaboration with federal, state and private sector scientists; and a comprehensive strategy to fight rangeland fires.

“We’ve written an important chapter in sage grouse conservation, but the story is far from over,” said Ashe. “By building on the partnerships we’ve forged and continuing conservation efforts under the federal and state plans, we will reap dividends for sage grouse, big game and other wildlife while protecting a way of life in the West. That commitment will ensure that our children and grandchildren will inherit the many benefits that this rich but imperiled landscape has to offer.”

The BLM and USFS announced Tuesday that they have issued Records of Decisions finalizing the 98 land use plans that will help conserve greater sage grouse habitat and support sustainable economic development on portions of public lands in 10 states across the West. The land use plans were developed during a multi-year process in partnership with the states and local partners, guided by the best available science and technical advice from the FWS. The BLM and USFS also initiated today the public comment process associated with their proposal to withdraw a subset of lands that are sage grouse strongholds from future mining claims.

The future of the sage grouse depends on the successful implementation of the federal and state management plans and the actions of private landowners, as well as a continuing focus on reducing invasive grasses and controlling rangeland fire. The FWS has committed to monitoring all of the continuing efforts and population trends, as well as to reevaluating the status of the species in five years.

The greater sage grouse is an umbrella species, emblematic of the health of sagebrush habitat it shares with more than 350 other kinds of wildlife, including world-class populations of mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and golden eagles. In 2010, the Service determined that the greater sage grouse warranted ESA protection because of population declines caused by loss and fragmentation of its sagebrush habitat, coupled with a lack of regulatory mechanisms to control habitat loss. However, the need to address higher-priority listing actions precluded the Service from taking action to list the bird. Since that time, actions from state, federal and private partners have added needed protections, increasing certainty that this important habitat will be protected.

Roughly half of the sage grouse’s habitat is on federal lands, most of it managed by the BLM and USFS. These tend to be drier uplands where the birds mate, nest and spend fall and winter. While the federal plans differ in specifics to reflect local landscapes, threats and conservation approaches, their overall goal is to prevent further degradation of the best remaining sage grouse habitat, minimize disturbance where possible, and mitigate unavoidable impacts by protecting and improving similar habitat.

About 45 percent of the grouse’s habitat is on state and private lands, which often include the wetter meadows and riparian habitat that are essential for young chicks. Efforts by private landowners in undertaking voluntary sage-grouse conservation have been an important element in the campaign. While private lands programs differ, each works with ranchers, landowners and other partners on long-term agreements to undertake proactive conservation measures that benefit sage grouse.

Through the NRCS-led Sage Grouse Initiative, more than 1,100 ranchers have restored or conserved approximately 4.4 million acres of key habitat. Through the recently-announced SGI 2.0 strategy, USDA expects voluntary, private land conservation efforts to reach 8 million acres by 2018. On private and federal lands, the FWS and BLM have received commitments on 5.5 million acres through Candidate Conservation Agreements. Many of these projects also improve grazing and water supplies for ranchers, benefiting cattle herds and the long-term future of ranching in the West.

States in the sage grouse’s range have been engaged in this collaborative process. For example, Wyoming has been implementing its “core area” strategy for more than five years. Montana has committed to implement a similar plan that would set standards for managing private and state lands to meet sage grouse conservation goals. Similarly, Oregon has adopted an “all lands” strategy for greater sage grouse conservation. Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Idaho have also developed strategies to improve state and private land management to benefit the sage grouse.

Greater sage grouse once occupied more than 290 million acres of sagebrush in the West. Early European settlers reported seeing millions of birds take to the skies. But the bird, known for its flamboyant mating ritual, has lost almost half of its habitat since then.

Despite losses, sage grouse populations are still relatively large and well-distributed across the range. The FWS anticipates that some sage grouse populations may continue to decline in parts of the range, as conservation efforts begin to take effect. Other populations appear to be rebounding as they enter a rising period in their decadal population cycle, which can fluctuate by as much 30 to 40 percent. The FWS has found conservation measures will slow and then stabilize the loss of habitat across the range, securing the species success into the future.

For more information about the greater sage grouse and this decision, including reports, maps, myths and facts and Secretary’s Jewell’s video announcing the FWS decision, please see

Funding sought for Goal 5 process

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

During its regularly-scheduled meeting on Sept. 16, the Harney County Court unanimously approved Resolution 2015-11, opposing the designation of the national conservation area, as proposed in the Owyhee Canyonlands Conservation Proposal, as well as the establishment or designation of any additional national monument, national conservation area, scenic river, or wilderness area on public lands within Southeastern Oregon, including Harney County.

The Owyhee Canyonlands Conservation Proposal (also known as the Owyhee Canyonlands  Monument) seeks to protect 2.5 million acres of public land in Malheur County through a combination of national conservation area, wilderness, and wild and scenic river designations. Advocates of the conservation proposal hope to designate these lands under the American Antiquities, Wilderness, and Wild and Scenic Rivers acts.

However, the resolution argues that special interest groups have used these acts “to advance their economic and political agendas to the detriment of the local communities,” resulting in “disparate social, cultural, environmental, and economic impacts on the local communities within Harney County.”

Some of examples of the impacts listed in the resolution include increased risk of wildfire, invasive species, adverse impacts to farming and grazing units, loss of tax revenues, and increased cost to operate local and federal government.

The resolution also asserts that the Owyhee Canyonlands Conservation Proposal — which would designate 2,579,032 acres as a national conservation area (with 2,012,350 acres as wilderness and more than 50 river miles as wild and scenic rivers) — would not be “confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected,” which is a requirement for national monuments under the American Antiquities Act of 1906.

The resolution also points out that, in land area, the proposed 2.5 million acre monument would be greater than the entire states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

“Any of the special use designations on the 2,579,032 acres within the Owyhee Canyonlands Conservation Proposal is not in the best interest of Harney County and will have a detrimental effect on the vitality of our rural communities,” the resolution asserts.


The court agreed to direct Harney County Planning Director Brandon McMullen to seek funding to start the Goal 5 process.

Originally adopted in 1974, Goal 5 and related Oregon Administrative Rules describe how cities and counties are to plan and zone land to conserve resources listed in the goal.

As part of the Goal 5 planning process, the court hopes to list Harney County’s people among its resources.

During the public comment period, Barbara Cannady asked the court to hold off on Goal 5 planning, arguing that Harney County Judge Steve Grasty will not be seeking another term, and there may be additional changes to the court.

Grasty replied that he will continue to do his job as judge as thoroughly and as well as he can until his term ends.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols added, “For us to just back off and not do anything is totally irresponsible. We’ve got to start and do the research and go from there.”

Nichols added that it may be an expensive, long, and drawn out effort, but it may have some benefit in the future.

Grasty agreed, stating, “If at the end of this, the federal agencies pay attention to the county comprehensive plan, we may have a nail to hang our hat on.”

Cannady asked that the public be included in the Goal 5 process. Grasty replied that this is required by law.


Oregon Employment Department Director Lisa Nisenfeld and Jim Pfarrer, business and employment services director, attended the meeting to discuss employment, training, and economic development in Harney County.

Nisenfeld said, “We are working on trying to bring in a distance learning portal that will allow us to have some programs here for credit that haven’t been here before.”

She said, “People can stay here and train, rather than having to go to other locations,” adding that, “When people have to go away to train, they are more likely not to come back, and that’s not what we want.”

Grasty said, “Sadly, most of our efforts have been training people to leave.”

He explained that this is not the intent, but many people have had to move out of the area to seek employment opportunities once they completed their training.

However, Grasty said he remains “really optimistic and hopeful” about the possibility of new industry coming into the area.


During the public comment period, Herb Vloedman addressed the court regarding economic development in Harney County. He asked the court to name two things that Harney County can offer employees looking to move to the area.

Grasty said he could name 50, but he emphasized the county’s “great medical facilities,” “proactive schools,” “wide-open spaces,” and “great land.” He added, “I happen to think we have the best people.”

Grasty encouraged Vloedman and Cannady to participate in community efforts such as the Harney County Community Response Team.


In other business, the court:

• agreed to seek funding from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development for a consistency review regarding Bureau of Land Management sage grouse habitat plans;

• briefly discussed Oregon Revised Statutes and Administrative Rules for Local Government Liquor License Issuance and Renewal. The county renewal fee will remain $15;

• agreed to sign and send a letter to Dave Leland, program manager for the Oregon Health Authority Drinking Water Program, regarding the county’s decision to return its drinking water program back to the state;

• discussed the Oregon Department of Transportation Canyon Creek Fire Damage Assessment;

• reviewed an invoice from the Eastern Oregon Counties Association for 2015-2016 dues in the amount of $15,800. The court will pay the budgeted amount of $7,500.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court will be held Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

Haz-Mat scene at community center

Posted on September 16th in News

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Police, fire and Haz-Mat teams responded to downtown Burns Tuesday. (Photo by JEFF GRAHAM)

Police, fire and Haz-Mat teams responded to downtown Burns Tuesday. (Photo by JEFF GRAHAM)

The Harney County Community Center was shut down Tuesday, Sept. 8, after an unknown substance was found in the building.

Burns Fire Chief Scott Williamson said that at about 9 a.m., two sealed packets containing a white substance were found by the cleaning crew on a toilet tank lid in the men’s restroom. The cleaning crew showed the packets, about 1” x 1” in size, to Harney County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Harrison, an occupant of the building, and she notified dispatch.

Burns Police arrived on the scene, and requested Burns and Hines fire departments to also respond. They determined that people in the building did have contact with the packets, but didn’t open them.

Williamson contacted Oregon Emergency Management Center and requested the Region 14 Haz-Mat team from Ontario to the scene.

Two members of the local operation team suited up, entered the building, and tested the substance for methamphetamine. The test came back negative.

The building was evacuated, and precautions were taken to protect the occupants of the building, including decontamination and sending them to the hospital for an examination. The building was also taped off to the public.

The Haz-Mat team from Ontario arrived around 4 p.m. and tested the substance. It was found to be sodium acetate, a type of non-hazardous preservative similar to those used in flower shops.
The scene was released around 7:40 p.m.

“It was excellent training for the guys,” Williamson said. “It made us realize there are more things we can use on the truck, and how we can do things different if there is a next time. We’ll have after-action reviews, and that will help develop policy.”

Burns bans marijuana businesses

Posted on September 16th in News

City’s urban deer population

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

During its regularly-scheduled meeting held Sept. 9, the Burns City Council passed ordinances prohibiting early sales of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries, and banning six types of marijuana businesses within the limits of the city.

Ordinance No. 15-836 was approved unanimously, banning early sales of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries and declaring an emergency (removing the standard period of 30 days between the passage of the ordinance and its effective date). Oregon Senate Bill 460 (SB 460), which was signed into law on July 28, authorized early sales of “limited marijuana retail product” to anyone 21 years of age or older by medical marijuana dispensaries from Oct. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2016. Pursuant to Section 2 of SB 460, a city may adopt an ordinance prohibiting these early sales, with no requirement for referral to a general election (in counties where no less than 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91.) The prohibiting ordinance had to be adopted prior to Oct. 1.

Ordinance No. 15-837 was passed with a 5-2 vote. Councilors Charity Robey, Dan Hoke, Terri Presley, Jerry Woodfin, and Mayor Craig LaFollette voted in favor, while Councilors Dennis Davis and LouAnn Deiter opposed. The ordinance prohibits six types of marijuana establishments within the limits of the city, and declares an emergency. Banned establishments include medical marijuana processors, medical marijuana dispensaries, retail marijuana producers, retail marijuana processors, retail marijuana wholesalers, and retail marijuana retailers.


Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) District Wildlife Biologist Rod Klus was present to speak about the issue of the large population of urban deer in the area that had been brought up at the previous council meeting and at recent Hines Common Council meetings.

Klus said there were possibly 200 deer or perhaps far more in the Burns/Hines area. It was mentioned at the previous meeting that the deer appear to be “diseased.” Klus said they are vulnerable to Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD) of deer, which manifests in a number of symptoms, and causes death within 3-5 days. It is contracted “snout to snout” and thus bowls of food or water can contribute to its spread. They are also afflicted by starvation, he said.

Klus said if the two cities want to address the deer population, some options include:

• Passing an ordinance making it illegal to feed deer;

• Allowing people to “haze” deer, or discourage them in some way or another from congregating in town;

• Possibly issuing “kill permits” to agents of the cities’ choosing. Klus warned that this might be “socially unpopular,” and also noted that the deer could not be wasted, so processing costs would have to be considered;

• Possibly “darting” the deer with tranquilizers and transporting them elsewhere. Klus said this would involve a number of expenses, and there were some issues to be considered, such as where the deer might end up during the five to 10 minutes it takes for the tranquilizers to set in following being hit with the dart.

LaFollette asked Klus to organize a meeting between ODFW and the cities to further discuss the issue.


In other business, the council:

• held a public hearing on the city’s draft findings for an exemption from the competitive bidding requirements of ORS Chapter 279B for the procurement of a 2006 Ford Expedition;

• passed Resolution No. 15-615 approving a special procurement for the acquisition of the 2006 Ford Expedition to be used as a patrol vehicle;

• approved a Federal Aviation Administration grant agreement for up to $538,435 for the Burns Municipal Airport’s taxiway project;

• approved the consent agenda, including the minutes of the Aug. 26 meeting and the August financial report.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the Burns City Council is scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Burns City Hall.

Taylor Crafts

Taylor Crafts

Hello Harney County!

I’m Taylor Crafts, daughter of Roy and Dawn Crafts. I was born and raised right here in Harney County, and I’m currently a junior at Burns High School where both my parents attended as well. I participate in volleyball, FFA, high school rodeo and Key Club. I plan on attending college after I graduate and study in the medical field for either animals or people.

I was selected as your 2015 Harney County Fair, Rodeo and Racemeet Princess and spent the summer representing Harney County traveling from rodeo to rodeo with Queen Cailyn Wilber. I used my two big paints, Jack and Apache. I train my own horses and because of that, we have a very special bond. I grew up riding horses, working cattle, playing sports and, of course, attending and participating in the annual Harney County Fair raising and showing pigs for 4-H and FFA.

I am very proud of my roots and love Harney County. I would love to represent this wonderful county as your 2016 Harney County Fair Queen.

Thank you.


Hi! My name is Mollie Banton and I’m starting my senior year at Silvies River Charter School. I am the daughter of Kris and Christi Banton. My extra-curricular activities for the past eight years in 4-H and FFA include having

Mollie Banton

Mollie Banton

shown pigs, steers and lambs. I have also been active in the Great Basin Saddle Club and Barrel Club. I enjoy going on trail rides, working cows and spending time with my family and friends. My plans for the future are to further my education at Central Oregon Community College in Bend to become a dental hygienist.

Grant will boost economy, support tribal community

The Burns Paiute Tribe received a grant in the amount of $37,716 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development agency on Thursday, Sept. 3. The funds will be used for entrepreneurial and cultural tourism development and development of the Tribe’s downtown Burns facility. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

The Burns Paiute Tribe received a grant in the amount of $37,716 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development agency on Thursday, Sept. 3. The funds will be used for entrepreneurial and cultural tourism development and development of the Tribe’s downtown Burns facility. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

The Burns Paiute Tribe is taking steps to improve the local economy by providing business training and initiating the development of a small business incubator with the help of a $37,716 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, announced State Director Vicki Walker during a visit to Burns on Sept. 3. This project will support the Burns Paiute Tribe Community and Economic Development Strategic Plan by helping to implement entrepreneurial development, increase cultural tourism, and further downtown development.

“The Burns Paiute Tribe is working to foster an environment of entrepreneurship that will improve the economy in this remote, rural area,” said Walker. “By providing business training and a venue to showcase and sell the goods and services produced by local entrepreneurs, the Tribe is helping to create additional businesses and expand employment opportunities.”

This funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) Program and is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

With this funding from  USDA, the Burns Paiute Tribe will offer business training to tribal members and other current or emerging entrepreneurs in Harney County utilizing the curriculum provided by the Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network (ONABEN) Indianpreneurship Program. In addition, the Tribe currently owns a historic building in downtown Burns, which they plan to retrofit for use as a small business incubator that will showcase the history and culture of the Tribe while allowing artisans to sell their merchandise in a location with high visibility. Today’s grant will help the Tribe conduct an architectural analysis of the building to assess its current condition and to make recommendations for interior modifications to facilitate its future use as an incubator, as well as to develop marketing materials for a fundraising campaign for the building modifications.

Within the first three months, it is anticipated that a minimum of two business training courses will be offered with enrollment space for up to 36 entrepreneurs, resulting in the creation of a minimum of five new jobs.

Marijuana ordinances discussed

Posted on September 2nd in News

City attorney fields questions from council

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

During its regularly-scheduled meeting on Aug. 26, the Burns City Council reviewed and discussed two draft ordinances that would prohibit marijuana establishments in the city, and ban early sales of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries.

Jeremy Green, the city’s attorney, telephoned in to the meeting to present the ordinances and answer questions from the council. Green said he had prepared the two ordinances in order to “put the wheels in motion” and facilitate discussion. He said there was no need to adopt them that night, but that he would be looking for feedback in order to move forward for the next couple of meetings.

Green presented the first draft ordinance, which would prohibit six types of marijuana establishments within the limits of the city, and declare an emergency (removing the standard period of 30 days between the passage of the ordinance and its effective date).

The prerequisite to the proposed ordinance is Oregon House Bill 3400 (HB 3400), which was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on June 30. HB 3400 contains a “local option” that allows county and city governments, in counties where no less than 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91, the right to adopt ordinances prohibiting any one (or more) of the six categories of state-licensed or registered marijuana businesses. These include medical marijuana processors, medical marijuana dispensaries, retail marijuana producers, retail marijuana processors, retail marijuana wholesalers, and retail marijuana retailers. The opt-out ordinance must be adopted no later than 180 days after the effective date of the act (Dec. 27, 2015).

Green said the emergency declaration was included because it is “theoretically possible” that a dispensary could initiate the application process prior to the ordinance going into effect.

He noted that the ordinance would prohibit all that HB 3400 allows to be prohibited, and reminded the council that it would not address marijuana growers (growing for personal or medical cardholder use), or the personal use of marijuana.

Before moving on to present the second ordinance, Green asked for comments or questions from the council.

Councilor Terri Presley brought up the time, place, and manner restrictions (TPMs) the council had placed on medical marijuana dispensaries last year.

“Could those same types of restrictions be placed on retail sales?” Presley asked.

Green responded, yes, the city has the ability to adopt TPMs on sales of recreational marijuana.

“I think that’s something to look at,” she said, adding that she didn’t want to see recreational marijuana sales “widespread,” or combined with a medical marijuana dispensary, and that it could be limited to one shop.

“If we opt out, what does it take to opt in?” asked Councilor Dan Hoke.

“A repeal of the ordinance, from my perspective,” Green responded.

Hoke commented that from what he has read on the subject, regulations for retail marijuana sales are still being determined by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).

“We don’t even have what OLCC is going to determine as reasonable restrictions on recreational marijuana yet,” he said, but added that the deadlines for opting out are clear.

“I guess what I’m saying to the council is, if we opt out, and we find that OLCC puts reasonable restrictions in place, we can opt back in.”

Hoke said one of the concerns is not receiving tax revenue, but said he didn’t think it would be a significant amount.

“So, we could opt out now, look at putting some TPMs in place, wait until OLCC puts restrictions in place, and then revisit the issue,” said Presley.

“I think the idea would be that the opt-out would serve as a de facto moratorium, to provide the city an opportunity to adopt TPMs as they relate to recreational marijuana, and then to repeal the opt-out ordinance,” Green said.

“There are other cities that are approaching it exactly that way,” he added.

Councilor Dennis Davis weighed in:

“I’m afraid that if we adopt the ordinance, hoping that we’ll be able to retract it later, we may not be able to get the toothpaste back in the tube,” he said, explaining that he thought the council might be “a bit more restricted” in reversing the decision later on.

Hoke commented that there are a lot of variables with regard to the OLCC regulations, but there are less variables involved in opting out.

“Who knows what the OLCC is going to implement as far as regulation?” he said. “That’s why I’m of the opinion of opting out. We should let things filter through, and if the council should choose to revisit it, it could.”

Green added a caveat:

“I cannot tell you with any level of certainty,” he said, “as to whether or not if you opt out, and then opt back in, if it will compromise your ability to collect your percentage share of the taxes that the state will otherwise collect with respect to recreational [marijuana] sales.”

He said in his opinion, the city should be entitled to its share if it opts back in, but he can’t guarantee it. He noted that he knows of two or three cities considering an opt-out ordinance as a de facto moratorium.

“They’re weighing whether or not to do it that way, for fear that they may miss out on the tax revenue,” he said. “But I will also tell you that my suspicion is that the tax revenue that the city of Burns may receive from [recreational] sales may not be all that significant.”

Green also reminded councilors that they didn’t necessarily need to make a decision themselves.

“You can refer an ordinance of this nature to your electors if you decide to do so,” he said. Davis commented on Green’s statement:

“The worry I have with handing it out to the electorate, is that it would not be a decision of pragmatism, or empirical evidence, but strictly speaking, a legislation of hatred. They don’t want marijuana, they hate marijuana, and they will legislate it out of existence, simply out of hatred. I think that is a very slippery slope, in both process and precedence, if we as stewards of the city, allow, or even become involved in, those types of activities in which we can propagate the evolution of hatred legislation,” he said.

Councilor Charity Robey responded:

“But as stewards of the city, isn’t it our obligation to hear the people’s opinions? We already know the outcome of [the vote on Measure 91] in this county. I don’t think it’s a hatred – I think if they don’t want it here, they don’t want it here,” she said.

Green presented the second draft ordinance, which would ban early sales of recreational marijuana by medical marijuana dispensaries. Oregon Senate Bill 460 (SB 460), which was signed into law on July 28, authorizes early sales of “limited marijuana retail product” to anyone 21 years of age or older by medical marijuana dispensaries from Oct. 1, 2015 through Dec. 31, 2016. This includes marijuana seeds, dried marijuana leaves and flowers, and marijuana plants that are not flowering.

Pursuant to Section 2 of SB 460, a city may adopt an ordinance prohibiting these early sales of limited marijuana retail product by medical marijuana dispensaries, with no requirement for referral to a general election (in counties where no less than 55 percent of voters opposed Measure 91.) The prohibiting ordinance must be adopted prior to Oct. 1.

Mayor Craig LaFollette said that meant it would need to be voted on at one of next two meetings in September.

“I’d like a little more time on the first one, but I do think we need to ban  the early sales [by medical marijuana dispensaries,]” Presley said.

“We can certainly put both of these ordinances on the agenda for the next meeting, and have discussion,” LaFollette said.

Green said he would finalize the ordinances for the next meeting’s agenda, but said that the council would still be able to make changes to them at that point. There also would be the option to hold off on a vote and table them.


During public comment, Hines Common Council member Hilda Allison spoke about a deer problem in both cities.

“It has gotten to the point in the city of Hines where these deer are very ill – they’re sick and dying – it’s just a terrible situation.”

Allison said she found out the deer are the responsibility of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and in order to get the animals under control, the only solution is to euthanize them.

She said she has been told that the cities need to join forces and put together a petition to the “upper levels” of the ODFW in order to get something done.

“I know it’s very controversial…some people love the deer, some don’t. But in this instance they’ve become a safety hazard, and they’re just very sick,” Allison said.


In other business, the council:

• heard from City Manager Dauna Wensenk that the street lights on Monroe Street that were hit are on order and would be put in as soon as they arrive;

• approved Resolution No. 15-614, imposing a lien for nuisance and dangerous building abatement at 730 S. Egan Ave.;

• supported the renewals of liquor licenses as recommended by Burns Police Department Chief Newt Skunkcap.

The next meeting of the Burns City Council is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m. at Burns City Hall.

Utility rate concerns identified

Posted on September 2nd in News

Deer problem in city discussed

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

After discussing possible utility rate increases for several months, the Hines Common Council was prepared to vote on the proposed resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

However, City Administrator (CA) Joan Davies told the council she had received correspondence from the city engineer and the city attorney regarding the resolution, and stated the action item had been taken off the agenda.

City Engineer Doug Ferguson submitted a letter to the city that contained nine points of concern:

1) The water system must be self-sustaining and at the present time, it is not.

2) Water rates must satisfy both the short- and long-term needs.

3) Water rates must be assessed in a fair and equitable manner.

4) The current low base rates and usage rate encourage excessive water use, which exacerbates the problem.

5) The city absolutely has to get ALL water consumption metered, as soon as it possibly can.

6) We have started on the Water System Master Plan, which shows many issues at play here. It will not be finished by February, as the council hoped.

7) We hope to present a reasonable and defensible rate structure by the next regular meeting.

8) You are operating as well as anyone can, given the issues, which can be corrected.

9) At this point, the city needs a temporary, and probably emergency, solution to getting sufficient money to operate the system.

The council reviewed current water rates and noted the discrepancies in what is paid by residents, and discussed what could be described as “fair and equitable.”

Councilor Loren Emang said the different amounts paid by water users is not fair at the present time, so an “across-the-board” increase wouldn’t be fair either.

Councilor Rod Bennett commented that to get the water fund to the sustainable amount with an across-the-board increase, the single-family dwellings would bear the brunt of the increase. “Subsidized housing pays just $1.38 per apartment. That’s not fair,” he said.

Councilor Hilda Allison said the committee set up to come up with new water rates had done a good job, and suggested the council invite the attorney to meet with them to understand what the council  perceives as “fair and equitable.”


During the public comment portion of the meeting, Allison said Chuck and Marti Boatman were in attendance to discuss the number of deer in town and their health. Allison said she shared the Boatmans’ concerns, and said something needs to be done.

“These animals are sick,” Allison said. “Euthanize is probably the wrong word to use here, but something needs to be done.”

Mr. Boatman said the deer are the responsibility of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and he suggested that the council write letters or emails and/or make calls to the head office every other day “until they get tired of hearing about it.” He added the local ODFW employees can’t do anything about the deer population without word from their superiors.

“The animals are sick. They’re wormy, and they’re not getting the nutrition they need. These deer are urbanized. You can’t transplant them, you can’t eat their meat. The only thing you can do is nuke them and bury them” he said.

Boatman added there is also a danger to children walking to school if they happen to get between a doe and her fawn(s). He said dogs have been stomped on by deer, and he even had a doe charge him. He said there are also a number of reports of deer dying in yards, getting hit by vehicles and they bring predators, such as coyotes, into town.

Allison pointed out that residents are feeding the deer human food, and said that’s not good for the deer.

“If anybody is caught feeding the deer, maybe they ought to be socked with a heavy fine,” Boatman said.

“I don’t know what the solution is, but the city council is where it hinges to put pressure on the higher-ups so it would trickle down,” Boatman added.

Allison said Burns has the same problem and she volunteered to attend the Burns City Council meeting the following night to propose the two cities draft a petition to send to ODFW.


The council reviewed four business license applications and approved one, from Trevor Burt for Burt’s Custom fabrication at 201 Hotchkiss Lane.

Edward Nice had applied for a license for Burns One Stop, an auto repair shop, at 105 SE Circle Drive, the site of the old hotel in Hines, and the license was denied by the council.

Larry King of Oregon Road Builders paid for a business license, but when CA Davies checked on the CCB (Construction Contractors Board) license, she discovered King’s license was suspended because he didn’t have insurance on file. Davies said she called King and he told her he would provide proof of insurance the following day, but that didn’t happen. Davies was then informed that work being done at the Shell Station in Hines was being performed by Road Maintenance, licensed under Jack Mullins, (not Oregon Road Builders as she had previously believed). However, Road Maintenance  didn’t have a Hines business license.

Davies then sent a cease and desist letter to King and Mullins, delivered by the police, stating they were to stop paving in Hines until they were able to show a valid CCB license for King, and Mullins obtained a Hines business license.

Mullins did apply for a business license, but the council denied the applications for King and Mullins.

Frank Schmidt was in attendance and said he was upset that King had been issued a business license. Schmidt said his mother had been approached by King to pave her driveway, and by the time he arrived at the house, they had already taken off all the gravel. When Schmidt was told what the cost would be, he told them to get off the property.

CA Davies corrected Schmidt, telling him the city didn’t issue the license at the time King paid for it, that had to be done by the council.

Schmidt said the city should have mechanisms in place to make sure businesses do have a license before offering to perform work, as most scams have to do with home improvement work.

Councilor Dick Baird stated the contractors showed up at his house, he asked to see their business license and requested a quote in writing. When they couldn’t produce a business license, he told them they were required to have one, and they should go to city hall to get one. Baird said the contractor did fill out an application and he assumed it was OK. Baird added that he checked out the work they had done in the area and it looked good, and he stated he was happy with their work. He also conceded some customers might have been over-charged, but that is why they should always get it in writing.

Following the discussion, the council denied the applications for both King and Mullins.


In other business:

• CA Davies reported the city received a letter from a resident stating that he had been chased by dogs while riding his bike, and he wanted the city to remind residents about not letting dogs run free. He said he will carry pepper spray in the future to protect himself.

Police Chief Ryan DeLange stated there have been a lot of dog-at-large complaints this year in both Burns and Hines;

• the city received one sealed bid for seal-coating on SW Circle Drive, and that was from TopLoc in the amount of $30,295. The council approved the bid, with Councilor Ron Williams abstaining from the vote because he owns TopLoc;

• the council approved advertising for bids on crack-sealing on several city streets. Williams once again abstained from voting.

• Public Works Supervisor Jerry Lewellen reported his department had discovered 34 more bad water meters and sent them in for replacements. He added they did get nine meters back.

Lewellen said because of the dry weather, the overflow lagoon is getting dry so he is keeping an eye on it. If it dries up, the lining could crack, causing leaks. He suggested the city look into getting the former Snow Mountain Pine well on-line with the city to pump water into the overflow lagoon in the dry years;

• the council discussed replacing the water fountain at the city park that was damaged by a vehicle. Baird said a water fountain was removed from the Brothers rest area when work was done there, and the city might be able to locate that fountain and put it to use. Davies said she would look into it;

• the council voted to allow DeLange to attend a two-day joint sheriffs/police chiefs conference Sept. 30 to Oct. 1, and the city would pay for meals and the $95 conference fee. DeLange said he hopes to find out more about the recreational marijuana laws while at the conference.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, at city hall.

PIT project held in Malheur National Forest

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

The Passport in Time (PIT) program flag flies, with the archaeological testing site in the background. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

The Passport in Time (PIT) program flag flies, with the archaeological testing site in the background. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Thousands of years ago, people were regularly visiting – and making tools at – an upland Silvies River site in what is now the Malheur National Forest (MNF).

That’s what archaeological surveys and testing, conducted by MNF archaeology staff and volunteers with the Passport in Time (PIT) program, have indicated.

“This beautiful location, nestled among willows and large Ponderosa pine, may have been a customary stop for early inhabitants as they moved within the forest,” said Pete Cadena, district archaeologist on the Emigrant Creek Ranger District of MNF.

Recently, United States Forest Service (USFS) professionals discovered “a relatively old American Indian spear point estimated to be seven to eight thousand years old,” said Don Hann, archaeologist and heritage program manager at MNF.

PIT volunteers helped staff archaeologists complete archaeological testing at the site this past week, Aug. 17-21, and the information learned will contribute to a better understanding of how the local area was used in the past, said Hann.

The PIT program

PIT is a volunteer program through the USFS. Participants can apply for a variety of archaeological and historic preservation projects in locations around the country. Once selected, they spend one week working with USFS officials and learning about the local area and subject matter.

Cadena described PIT as an “extraordinary program,” and he praised work done by volunteers.

Volunteers at MNF are most often retirees and university students. They receive a “passport” and a PIT passport number. Each time the volunteers help on a project, the project leader stamps the volunteers’ passports and documents their hours.

The process

Cadena said there are usually two PIT projects per year on MNF. One involves lab work with previously-collected artifacts, and the other is field work.

Last week’s project was the latter. Ten volunteers and five archaeology technicians participated throughout the five days, uncovering evidence of a prehistoric toolmaking site.

The week began with a general project overview, as well as safety reminders about staying hydrated and taking breaks during the work. Following that, the group spent a few hours conducting an initial survey, which involves walking across the site in a line, scanning the surface for debitage (rock flakes resulting from the manufacture of stone tools) and other artifacts and placing pin flags at those locations.

The survey continues with shovel test probes. Several spots are selected to examine the subsurface content of the site. Each probe is 50 centimeters by 50 centimeters (about 20 inches by 20 inches) square, and is carefully tested. As each test unit is dug further down, the volunteers and technicians carefully examine the upturned soil, looking for debitage or partial or complete tools. The soil is then placed into buckets and hauled over to one-eighth-inch wire mesh sifting screens, where others work to scour the dirt for smaller flakes remaining.

For every 10 centimeters of depth, a report is filed by one of the archaeological technicians. They note on a grid where larger items were found, soil types encountered, and a variety of other information. The process is repeated until they hit “sterile” soil – the point at which they stop finding the artifacts – or the information needed is acquired.

All collected flakes are bagged and labeled. Cadena said the next step is to start typing them. Obsidian flakes make up the majority of what is found on MNF. They are measured and divided into three categories – primary, secondary, and tertiary. These categories indicate the amount of cortex (the original, rough outer surface of the obsidian) present on the flake – from primary with the most to tertiary with none.

Cadena said this categorization indicates what stages in the manufacturing of projectile points were completed on the site. Primary flakes are those that are taken off first when carving a point. Secondary flakes result as the process progresses, and tertiary flakes are the product of the finishing stages.

If there are an even number of flakes found in each category, it can be inferred that people were starting and finishing tools at the site. That appears to be the case at this site, Cadena explained. A wide range of flakes were found.

Volunteer value

Cadena said everything that’s found is archived, and a final report is written. This provides a baseline of information for those wanting to do further research on this site in the future.

“The reality is, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, somebody could utilize this information even more, so the work [done by the PIT project participants] will just keep going for years and years,” he said.

And Cadena would know. He did his graduate research on MNF. He said the site he studied had five or six PIT projects conducted on it, and that data allowed him to formulate his question and pursue his research.

“For a graduate student, that’s pretty awesome, because you usually don’t get all of that support. In this case, I was able to have my own site and look at data – all because of years and years of PIT volunteers’ hard work,” Cadena said.

But it’s not just the professionals who find value in the projects.

Rick and Mary Gant of the Richland, Wash., area are no strangers to the PIT program. But up until now, they had only done historic preservation projects.

“This is our first adventure in archaeology,” said Rick.

He noted that a complete Elko point had been found during the week.

“It’s pretty humbling, when you find something that was created for hunting a couple thousand years ago, and nobody’s seen it since,” he said.

“It’s been very interesting,” Mary said. She added that in the future she’d like to try other archaeology projects looking at different historical periods. In terms of the work tasks, she said she preferred the digging to the sifting, as she didn’t feel as confident in identifying the smaller pieces to pick out.

“I like to learn new things, but I also want to feel like I’m doing something useful,” she said.

Mary, a retired computer programmer, said she and Rick have not only personally enjoyed participating in PIT projects, but see a bigger meaning behind that participation.

“For years, we have backpacked and done a lot on Forest Service lands, and we felt [volunteering with PIT] was a way to kind of give back a little for all the enjoyment we’ve had,” she said.

Jim Goertzen, a retired counselor from St. Helena, Calif., came to this year’s MNF PIT project with 11 archaeology projects already under his belt. He said he has participated in between one and three projects per summer for the last six years since his retirement. Most were located in California, but PIT has also taken him to Nevada and Arizona. He said there weren’t as many projects offered in his home state this year, so he came to Oregon.

“The projects are a lot of fun, and you get to meet a lot of fun people,” Goertzen said.

He added that he’s enjoyed learning about the ingenuity of prehistoric peoples in the manufacturing of stone tools.

“I just have nothing but respect for them,” he said.

Goertzen said he’s always had a strong interest in history, and after retiring, he thought about going back to school. However, he didn’t want to sit in a classroom – he preferred hands-on experiences. So after reading an article about PIT in American Archaeology magazine, he went for it.

“Here I’m surrounded by university-trained people, and I’m getting way more from them than I would in a classroom in six months. In one week’s time, I’m getting more than 40 hours of classroom time, as far as I’m concerned. It’s really good,” said Goertzen.

On Thursday, volunteers took a break and made a trip to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and at the end of the day on Friday, Cadena provided instruction on using an atlatl, or spear-thrower.

This year was special because it marked the 25th anniversary of the PIT program, and volunteers went home with commemorative pins.

Get involved

The PIT program offers a number of opportunities to volunteers. According to its website, this includes: “archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts.”

For more information, or to apply for any PIT project around the country, visit

Assistance available for planning efforts

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Jim Rue, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) director, and Jon Jinings, DLCD community services specialist, attended the Harney County Court meeting on Thursday, Aug. 20 to discuss Goal 5, a broad statewide planning goal that covers more than a dozen resources, including wildlife habitats, historic places, and aggregate (gravel).

Originally adopted in 1974, Goal 5 and related Oregon Administrative Rules describe how cities and counties are to plan and zone land to conserve resources listed in the goal.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said the court has been discussing whether to complete the Goal 5 process for a while. Although some pieces have been updated, it’s been decades since the county has completed the Goal 5 process entirely.

Grasty said the decision is partially driven by the sage grouse administrative rule that the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted July 24. The rule establishes a procedure for considering development proposals on lands identified as significant sage grouse habitat.

“I think we got the sage grouse administrative rule wrong,” Grasty said. “If there is a reason to do [Goal 5 planning] it’s the potential of advantage for the people who live here.”

Jinings said that, although the county would have to demonstrate that it can provide an equivalent level of sage grouse protection, the Goal 5 process might allow it to “provide those protections in a different way that feels better — feels more right to Harney County.”

Rue agreed that Goal 5 planning could give the county more flexibility.

He said, “If you write it, you write it specific to the county and the needs of the county, which are different from the state, potentially, and are potentially different from adjoining counties.”

However, Rue warned that the county may find Goal 5 planning expensive, labor intensive, and politically difficult.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols asked whether Harney County’s people could be listed as a significant resource in the goal.

Grasty added, “We think people are a significant resource. To protect them, we are going to protect 100 percent of their property. The state rule now says we can only protect 3 percent of their property. The rest is out of bounds.”

He explained that the LCDC rule limits direct impacts from human-caused disturbance to no more than 3 percent of any core area of sage grouse habitat.

Rue replied that this would only apply to uses beyond agriculture and forestry.

However, Nichols explained that many agriculture businesses are required to diversify in order to support their operations.

Rue replied, “As long as there is a direct connection to crops being grown on the land, it’s outright permitted.”

“There is no prohibition on someone making an application for anything,” Jinings added. “There will be things that are harder to justify based on the way the rule operates, but there is a whole menu of things that don’t require consideration at all.”

However, Grasty said he feared that the “conservation community” would litigate some of these decisions.

Additionally, he asked whether habitat mapping could be reevaluated if new studies are conducted.

Jinings said he thought a different mapping arrangement could be considered, but it would have to be backed by substantial evidence and completed by people who have “the right credentials to make those calls.”

He added, “At this point, I don’t think we should take any ideas off the table,” explaining that he’s willing to work with the county to come up with creative solutions.

Rue added that financial and technical assistance would be available for the county to assist with Goal 5 planning.

Grasty said that, if the county decides to engage in the Goal 5 process, it’d focus on more than just sage grouse. He explained that the county’s people, culture and customs would need to be counted among its significant resources.

“Our job is to protect the people in the place, not to protect the birds,” he said.

Grasty concluded that the court will need to decide whether it makes sense to take on the Goal 5 process. And, if so, the court will need to decide how much of the process it can afford to complete.

“You’ve got the hard task of deciding whether or not to pursue [Goal 5],” Rue said.

Grasty thanked Rue and Jinings for working with the court.


The court agreed to appoint new members and ratify current members serving on the Local Community Advisory Council (LCAC).

Subsequently, Grasty mentioned that the county’s public health and home health and hospice programs “have become incredibly expensive,” and the county may want to consider contracting them out to other entities.

“If we keep funding these programs at the level that we are, we will be cutting something else,” he said.

Nichols said, “The community may be happy spending those funds.” However, he added that, “it’s a pretty necessary discussion if the budgetary needs are what they are.”

Grasty said, “I don’t like us even having to have this conversation, but I think we have to.” He added, “If we do this, we have to make sure that we do it strategically and in a manner that makes sense to the community.”

He suggested holding open houses to engage the community in the discussion. He said he’d also like to involve the LCAC and asked to include the conversation on the council’s next meeting agenda.


The court also discussed Intergovernmental Agreement 5119 between Harney County and the state of Oregon for correctional services.

Grasty also complimented Community Corrections Director Lodi Presley for the work she’s doing.

“She’s flat making a difference,” he said.

Grasty said Presley has been looking at options to secure transitional housing for people who’ve been recently released from prison, explaining that the county has been paying for them to stay in hotel rooms, which is not cost effective. Hotel staff have also expressed that they will not house sex offenders.

Grasty said the tenants would have to meet certain stipulations in order to live in the county’s transitional housing. For example, they’d be obligated to keep the house clean and maintained. They’d also have to abstain from drug and alcohol use, among other requirements.

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels suggested putting some of these people to work at Rimrock Recycling.

“I think that’s a great idea,” Grasty replied, adding that they’d have the opportunity to learn work skills and earn money to pay restitution.

Ultimately, the court agreed to postpone signing the agreement until they can review the document more carefully.


Veterans Service Officer Guy McKay attended the meeting to provide an update on veterans services.

McKay reported that he’s enjoyed working with Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Cameron Smith.

McKay also reported that, last year, he used a portion of program funding to advertise veterans services, and the response was incredible. He garnered more than 100 new clients.

This year, McKay said he’d like to use some program funding to hire a part-time receptionist who can help him manage his appointments, as he hopes to add another 100 clients in the next 18 months.

McKay also announced that veterans will receive free admission to the Harney County Fair, Rodeo and Race Meet on Saturday, Sept. 12.

“You’ve done a great job, and we appreciate it,” Grasty told McKay.


In other business, the court:

• upon recommendation from Harney County Watershed Council (HCWC) Coordinator Karen Moon, appointed Rachel Beaubian, Susan Ramsey and Pat Sharp to the HCWC;

• approved an application from Tree Top Ranches to name a road on their private property Brown Ranch Lane;

• discussed a letter from Harney County Weed Control Supervisor Jim Campbell regarding Medusahead treatments. Grasty said he believed there was plenty of room in the budget to provide the treatments, but said the budget may need to be revisited in the future;

• received a letter from Kimberly Lindsay, Grant County Health Department administrator, stating that Community Counseling Solutions (doing business as Grant County Health Department) decided to terminate its contract with Harney County for drinking water services. Lindsay explained that Ray Huff is retiring Aug. 31, and the department has been unable to recruit and retain certified personnel to replace him. As a result, Grant County will return its drinking water program back to the state. Grasty said Harney County will need to do the same;

• received a letter from Susan Christensen of the Department of Environmental Quality regarding a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event to be held in Burns Oct. 3;

• learned from Grasty that there was a jet fuel spill on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land near Coleman Creek. No one was injured, and a BLM hazmat crew was able to clean up and contain the spill;

• learned from Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella that the Oregon Department of Transportation agreed with the court’s suggestion to set the speed zone on Stanclift Lane from Foley Drive to Eben Ray Lane to 35 mph.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

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