Design meant to echo a woman’s womb

Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Members of the class learning how to make cradleboards hold an older one (left) and one of the cradleboards being built in class. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Members of the class learning how to make cradleboards hold an older one (left) and one of the cradleboards being built in class. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

“Teaching this class has been such a big honor for me, and I think the reason why is knowing that cradleboard making is going to be passed down, and that’s really important to me,” Sara Barton said.

In an effort to help preserve and nurture the tradition, Barton has been teaching a cradleboard-making class at the Gathering Center (which is located on the Burns Paiute Reservation) since January. 

About cradleboards

Cradleboards are traditional, protective carriers that were used by various Native American tribes to transport children ranging in age from infancy to 2.

Styles of cradleboards varied from tribe-to-tribe,  as did the traditions and customs concerning their use.

Traditional Northern Paiute cradleboards were made from small, willow sticks that were woven together with split willow strings and attached to a long, oval frame made of heavy willow. The board was then covered with buckskin or canvas that laced up in the front to hold the child in place. 

Barton said cradleboards were designed to echo the “warmth and security” of a mother’s womb, and she compared them to modern-day swaddling blankets.

A shade, made of very fine willows woven together, was attached to the top of the cradleboard to keep light out of the baby’s eyes and protect him/her if the board tipped over. The shade was decorated with a pattern in yarn that identified the baby’s gender, and a blanket could be draped over the shade while the baby slept.

A tie, fastened to the side of the board, fit over the mother’s forehead or around her shoulders, allowing her to carry the baby on her back while she completed tasks or chores.

Barton explained that cradleboards basically allowed the baby to be with the mother all the time. And she stressed the importance of that closeness toward the baby’s happiness and wellbeing.

Three different sizes of cradleboards were used to carry children as they grew from infants to toddlers. And Barton said some children would try to crawl back into their cradleboards even after they outgrew them because the boards offered a sense of security.

Barton said families are still using cradleboards to carry children during powwows and gatherings.  But most modern mothers carry the cradleboards in their arms, instead of on their backs.

“It’s amazing how many young mothers you see using the cradleboards,” Barton said.

A ‘dying art’

But, locally, knowledge of cradleboard construction was diminishing.

Barton learned the craft from Burns Paiute Tribal Elder Minerva Soucie. And, when Soucie passed away, Barton and 96-year-old Tribal Elder Rena Beers were among an increasingly-diminishing number of tribe members who mastered the cultural tradition.

Recognizing that the craft was on the verge of extinction, Tracy Kennedy, who coordinates youth prevention programs and juvenile services for the Burns Paiute Tribe, applied for a grant through the Harney County Cultural Coalition to nurture the “dying art.”

In the grant application, Kennedy wrote that, “Traditional Northern Paiute cradleboard techniques have been passed down through face-to-face interaction over many generations. Sadly, the practice is in danger of being lost, as only a handful of people currently maintain the knowledge to pass onto future generations. At most, the Burns Paiute Tribe has only four traditional cradleboard masters, one of which is willing to share her teachings to carry on this incredible artistry.”

Kennedy applied for the grant in November 2013 and received $1,100 in funding the following month.

Because she was eager to share the knowledge that she acquired from Soucie, Barton said she was “more than happy” when Kennedy asked her to teach a six-month cradleboard class.

About the class

The cradleboard class got under way in January 2014, when participants learned how to identify and gather the proper willows.

The willows were selected from various locations, including the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. And they had to be picked during the winter because that’s when it’s easiest to remove the bark.

In February, students focused on cleaning and scraping the willows, which were later used for the cradleboards’ backing and shade.

Weaving began in March, as participants began constructing cradleboard frames. And canvas material was fitted around the frames in April.

Barton explained that the class used canvas instead of buckskin because  it’s less expensive and an easier material to learn with.

The class began attaching willow shades to the covered frames in May. And, by the time the class concluded on June 2, many students finished their cradleboards by adding fringes and beadwork to the sides and back.

Although the formal class concluded, Barton said she plans to continue coaching participants who have yet to complete their projects.

“Some have finished, and some haven’t. And that’s OK,” Barton said. “I want to see this continue and not discourage anybody by setting a time limit on it.”

Barton explained that cradleboard making is “a process,” adding that, “There’s a lot to remember.”

However, she said, “It’s all enjoyable for me.”

Barton emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive attitude during all phases of the project. In fact, she said she won’t even gather materials if she’s angry or upset.

“I don’t want to put that into my work,” she explained.

Preserving the tradition

Kennedy said that, although not everyone will complete a cradleboard, as many as 70 different tribe members have been involved in some phase of the cradleboard-making process.

And, in some cases, multiple generations took the class together.

For example, Shelley Richards crafted a cradleboard with her grandson, Truston Snapp.

Regarding Snapp, Barton said, “My heart soars when I see what he has accomplished.”

Barton said it’s difficult to describe how much teaching the class has meant to her.

“It brought a sense of happiness,” she said. “People were talking and smiling. It’s so healing for me to see what the cradleboard class brought out. It was very special.”

She added, “One thing that I found that was so interesting about doing this class was that I was hearing stories from different students about how their moms or their grandmothers can remember family members making cradleboards. The stories were just coming down, and it was fascinating.”


CCAA part of ongoing effort 

Ranchers, agency members and others met on Steens Mountain to sign the CCAA. (Submitted photo)

Ranchers, agency members and others met on Steens Mountain to sign the CCAA. (Submitted photo)

On May 21, in rural Eastern Oregon, one of the largest land conservation agreements in the state to protect greater sage grouse was signed.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Harney Soil and Water Conservation District, (HSWCD) and Eastern Oregon ranchers entered into a landmark agreement as part of an ongoing effort to provide sage grouse habitat protection. This agreement, The Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA), allows landowners to voluntarily agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to a species. In return, landowners received assurances against additional regulatory requirements should that species ever be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  

Stacy Davies, manager of Roaring Springs Ranch, said the CCAA gives landowners an opportunity to maintain grazing and other traditional agricultural uses on their land, and protects those uses should an ESA listing occur.  

“Landowners in Eastern Oregon are highly concerned about the cultural, social and economic impacts of our rural way of life by the potential listing of greater sage grouse under the ESA,” said Carol Dunten, HSWCD chairwoman and private landowner. “The Harney County CCAA was created by a diverse group of stakeholders working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a proactive voluntary private land management plan that provides greater sage grouse habitat conservation. Based on the initial interest in enrollment, this plan will demonstrate agriculture’s commitment to protect the species.”

More than 30 landowners have already committed, covering 250,000 acres.  Oregon’s six other sage grouse counties are following Harney’s model, meaning all the state’s habitat on private land would be covered by a CCAA before the listing decisions, according to Fish and Wildlife’s Oregon State Supervisor Paul Henson, though what impact that has depends on how many people sign up.

Greater sage grouse currently occur in 11 states and two Canadian provinces, with loss and fragmentation of habitat the primary threat across its range.  In Oregon, greater sage grouse were once found in most sagebrush habitats east of the Cascades.  Greater sage grouse were listed as a candidate species in 2010. The Service is scheduled to make a listing decision in September 2015.


Products shipped all over the world

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Anna Huber produces her line of soaps in her home. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

Anna Huber produces her line of soaps in her home. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

When you walk into Anna Huber’s home in Burns, your olfactory receptors are immediately embraced by an array of alluring aromas, ranging from the delicate, floral fragrance of freshly-cut lilacs to the warm, spicy scents of cinnamon and clove.

That’s because her kitchen doubles as her workshop, where she handcrafts her all-natural, artisan soaps and spa products.

 

A family trade

Anna learned the art of soap making from her mother-in-law, Linda Huber, who pioneered the process through trial and error.

“She had to start from scratch, teaching herself how to make homemade soap,” Anna said regarding Linda.

When Anna first started dating her husband, Ryan Huber, he gave her a bar of Linda’s soap as a gift. And from that point on, Anna was hooked.

“Once I started using her soaps, I became addicted. I never went back to buying soap from the store because it [Linda’s soap] made such a difference in my skin,” Anna explained.

When her in-laws later decided to move to Mexico, Anna said she started to panic because she couldn’t find soap that she liked as much as Linda’s.

But, luckily, Linda agreed to share her soap-making secrets before she made the move.

“She taught me the whole process of how she made soap,” Anna said, adding that Linda also handed over her “soap bible,” a three-ring binder containing all of her recipes.

But it took a while for Anna to get the hang of it.

“The first few batches I made were terrible,” she said with a laugh. “I was giving [bars] away just to get rid of them.”

But she continued to improve. And, eventually, she started getting creative, formulating her own recipes and scent combinations.

 

Chemistry in the kitchen

Soap making could be considered both an art and a science.

Anna explained that each batch of soap has to be carefully calculated, and ingredients must be measured meticulously.

“You really have to play chemist in the kitchen,” she said. “Anything that you add into [your batch] has to be calculated into your recipe.”

She added, “I try to pack the most all-natural, moisturizing materials into one batch of soap that I can.”

Examples of Anna’s ingredients include coconut, olive, argan, avocado, macadamia nut, palm and castor oils. She also uses shea and cocoa butter, as well as lemon peels, coffee grounds, oatmeal, dried mint leaves, coconut milk, distilled lilac water, tea, sea salt, and a number of other natural products.

“Each soap is a little different,” she said, explaining that different bars require different ingredients.

Some examples of her existing bars include Spring Lilac, Rich Arabian Spice, and Beach Breezes.

And she continues to concoct new recipes.

When asked how she comes up with ideas for new bars, Anna replied, “I’ll just think, ‘What sounds really good to me? What’s a soap that I would  want?’”

Anna also creates custom orders for individuals who request specific scent and ingredient combinations through her Internet-based business.

Although she primarily specializes in soap, she’s also created products such as body butters, perfumes, room and linen sprays, body scrubs, bath salts, and aromatherapy oils at the request of her customers.

 

AnnasNaturals

Anna sells her soap  and spa products through Etsy, a website that allows individuals to set up personal shops and sell items to customers around the world. Her shop, AnnasNaturals, can be accessed online at www.etsy.com/shop/AnnasNaturals.

Anna opened her shop in September 2013, after a friend encouraged her to sell the soap that she’d been making and giving away to family and friends.

“The first week I opened, I had a sale every day,” she said. “It was really cool and exciting and kind of nerve-racking,” she added, explaining that, with more than 400 soap-based businesses on Etsy, she didn’t expect such a quick customer response.

Anna said that, since she’s opened up shop, she’s shipped soap to customers “from all over the world,” including New York, Florida, France and Germany. And recent guests of Portland’s Benson Hotel may have bathed with bars of her Mint Chocolate Chip soap.

But Anna, who grew up and attended school in Harney County, said she loves local orders.

In fact, she offers discounts to local customers, including $1 off the price of a bar of soap. She also waives the shipping fee and offers same-day delivery to customers in the Burns-Hines area.

However, same-day delivery is only available for soap that is currently in her inventory. She explained that custom orders take more time because it takes three to four weeks for soap to cure.

Locals can order online through Anna’s Etsy site or by messaging her on Facebook.

 

Five-star service

Anna said she would like to maintain her Etsy shop’s current five-star rating by providing quality products and customer service.

“Not only are customers  getting a top-quality bar of soap, but I really pride myself on the appearance of them too,” she said, explaining that the bars come “beautifully wrapped in ribbon and labeled with a business card.”

She added, “I always want people to be happy.”


Topics range from wild horses to health care

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

Senator Ron Wyden presents Verna Pettyjohn with an American flag. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Senator Ron Wyden presents Verna Pettyjohn with an American flag. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) paid a visit to Harney County on Saturday, May 24, and stopped at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center in Burns for his 704th “town hall” meeting. Residents gathered to ask questions and make comments on a wide variety of issues.

First on the senator’s agenda was to recognize local resident Verna Pettyjohn’s instrumental role in the newly completed renovation of the senior center. She was awarded the  Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative (OTEC)’s Peggi Timm Civic Leadership Award. Wyden presented her with an American flag that had been flown over the U.S. capitol.

Next, Wyden began the discussion by noting several recent news items. First, he praised the recent signing of the greater sage grouse Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA), commenting that it was a good model and a “win-win” for the county. He recognized Stacy Davies and Colby Marshall for their work on the agreement.

Secondly, he announced the one-year extension of funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) through the passage of the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013.

Finally, he noted upcoming bipartisan fire legislation, recently endorsed by President Obama, that would bring changes to how large wildfire suppression is funded. According to Wyden’s website, it would  mean that the largest fires (roughly 1 percent) would be treated as natural disasters and would, therefore, be paid for out of the disaster fund, freeing up money for land management agencies to use for prevention.

“What this would say is we’ll no longer rob the prevention fund when these big fires break out,” Wyden explained.

Wyden then opened the floor for questions and comments from the audience. Issues ranged all the way from healthcare to wild horses.

 

Land and wildlife management

Following Wyden’s acknowledgement and praise of the greater sage grouse CCAA, the focus of discussion shifted to another animal: the wild horse. It was noted that there are similar agreements in the works for this issue as well, and Wyden again expressed his support of the concept:

“I think Harney County is on the right side of history with these kinds of agreements that produce collaboration rather than confrontation,” he said.

Stacy Davies, representing Roaring Springs Ranch, updated the senator on the current situation with wild horses, explaining that there are nearly 50,000 horses in holding facilities (nationwide). He noted that these animals are responsible for major reductions in AUMs (animal unit months) which, he explained, are quickly driving ranchers out of business.

Senator Wyden acknowledged the sense of urgency, and stated that he would convey the gravity of the situation to the appropriate federal agencies.

•••

A concern was raised about the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA)’s proposed Oregon Desert Trail and whether it would affect landowners. The organization has indicated that it is seeking federal designation for the trail.

Wyden was aware of the project, but did not have enough information at the time to speak in detail about its status. But he did state generally his stance with regard to these situations:

“My policy, with respect to natural resources, is I don’t come out for anything until we’ve given everybody a chance to try to work together and to find common ground,” explained Wyden.

 

Healthcare

The healthcare discussion began with a concern  from the audience expressed over the recent allegations against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“I can’t find much that is more, just awful, than the idea of falsifying records with respect to services for veterans,” said Wyden. “That’s not what America is all about.”

Wyden noted that veterans’ healthcare has long been underfunded, and that the current scandal has made things all the worse.

•••

Another concern expressed was about the general lack of healthcare providers in rural areas, like Harney County. Wyden recognized the issue and explained that there are multiple parts to the solution.

One strategy would be getting more nurses, physician assistants, and others  to rural areas in order to stretch the resources that currently exist.

Secondly, he noted his focus on promoting telehealth and digital medicine, and the importance of connecting rural medical professionals with doctors around the state.

Of course, he said, the ultimate goal would be to get more doctors to rural areas. He explained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided for some loan forgiveness for doctors who choose to go to rural areas, but that is only a start.

•••

The ACA was mentioned on several occasions, and on that topic the senator emphasized his bipartisan record on voting for and developing healthcare bills, and also made it clear that there are issues that remain unresolved with the healthcare law.

“Obviously, there’s a lot to do. We’re all very, very troubled by what happened with Cover Oregon, and the state’s website,” explained Wyden, stating that he, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), have asked for a federal investigation into that issue.

 

Gun rights

A member of the audience asked Senator Wyden about his support of a United Nations treaty regulating the international arms trade, and expressed concern about Second Amendment rights. Wyden explained that he could not find anything in the language of the bill that would limit the right to bear arms, and that he supports the Second Amendment.

“I have read it, and re-read it, and read it again, and I can’t find anything in [the bill] that does damage to the Second Amendment. What it does do,” Wyden explained, “is it keeps us from selling weapons to terrorists, which is what the agreement is all about.”

Wyden arranged to have the text of the bill sent to the concerned parties to have them highlight what language they found objectionable.

 

Economic development

Pete Runnels thanked Wyden for his work on promoting a stewardship contract that kept Malheur Lumber open in Grant County, and hoped that the economic benefits “trickled down” to Harney County.

“We’re going to try to make that the model for the whole east side — that’s in my Eastside bill,” said Wyden, referring to his Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act bill.

“The cut is up, the litigation is down,” said Wyden.

•••

An audience member asked Wyden to comment on the problem of rural poverty.

He touted educational funding, forestry, transportation, and agriculture as pieces of the solution.

“We do a lot of things well in our state, but what we do best is grow things, so we ought to encourage people to grow things…and then ship them somewhere,” said Wyden. “A lot of these countries around the world really would like our products. We just have to clear out some of the trade barriers.”

 

Political polarization

Toward the latter half of the meeting, a comment was made about the character of leadership in Congress. Wyden took the opportunity to emphasize the importance he places on bipartisanship:

“If there’s one thing I want to do,” he said, “one thing above all else in my time in public service, it is to be part of the effort to break this partisanship and polarization.”

•••

Other topics included the conflict of free speech and political correctness, government spending and healthcare costs, and making Medicare more easily navigable for seniors.

 


Unsafe access spurs fundraising efforts

by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

With the existing structure (and “infamous” ladder) behind them, Dave Doman’s CUHS construction class is hard at work laying the concrete forms for the new concession stand at Crane’s Valentine Field. Donations of cash, supplies, and labor toward the completion of the project are accepted. (Submitted photo)

With the existing structure (and “infamous” ladder) behind them, Dave Doman’s CUHS construction class is hard at work laying the concrete forms for the new concession stand at Crane’s Valentine Field. Donations of cash, supplies, and labor toward the completion of the project are accepted. (Submitted photo)

It was the rickety old wooden ladder that really got people to “step up.”

A team of Harney County residents, working with the Ford Institute Leadership Program (FILP), have made it their mission to assist the Crane Mustang Booster Club with the replacement of the old concession stand at Crane’s Valentine Field, including the unsafe access to the crow’s nest.

FILP came to Burns last fall to gather a cohort of 21 local participants, including seven youth members. The program was built through the partnership of the Ford Family Foundation and Rural Development Initiatives (RDI).

According to its website, FILP is “based on the belief that vital rural communities develop from a broad base of knowledgeable, skilled and motivated leaders, a diversity of effective organizations, and productive collaborations among organizations.” The program provides training classes, assistance grants, and other resources.

Classes consist of 48 hours of training over four sessions and address a variety of concepts focused on community development and leadership. In order to apply these concepts to a real-world situation, each cohort selects and takes on a project as a group.

Previous cohorts in the area have taken on improvement projects including the Hines skate park, Hines City Park pavilion space, and the area outside the Harney County Library. In this fourth leadership class, participants wanted to extend efforts to another part of Harney County.

When Crane Union High School (CUHS) students (and FILP participants) Mary and Maddie Dorroh showed their group photos of the existing concession stand and the “infamous” wooden ladder, support for the proposed project grew quickly.

Visitors to Valentine Field know the concession stand well: announcers call out track events and broadcast football action from the crow’s nest, and food and drink are sold below. Many people have expressed their amazement at the booster club’s ability to serve good food in such a basic shelter.

FILP participants, working with the booster club and Mr. Dave Doman’s construction class at CUHS, will initially work toward building a solid structure, including a sturdy, secure staircase to the crow’s nest. Then, as funding allows, electricity, water, bathrooms, and landscaping will be added. Expenses include labor, permits, and materials.

That’s where the “Brand The Stand” campaign comes in. Ranches, families, individuals, and businesses are encouraged to donate $100 to have their brand and name (or just name) engraved on boards to be permanently displayed on the new concession stand. Youth from the Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility (EOYCF) have volunteered to help with engraving names. Donations of cash, building supplies, and labor will be accepted. Needed building supplies include lumber, nails, siding, roofing, doors, windows, and tools.

The group’s first fundraiser at Crane Play Day May 1 raised $2,100, qualifying them to apply for a $5,000 matching grant from the Ford Family Foundation. Two more fundraisers are planned, one at CUHS graduation on May 30, and the other at the Ranch Rodeo on July 12. Board branding will take place on site at the Ranch Rodeo event. As of May 15, $3,400 of the $7,000 needed in cash donations had been raised.

Donations may be sent at any time to: Crane Mustang Booster Club/Crane Concession, P.O. Box 866, Crane OR 97732. If donors would like to use their brand, boards will be provided. Donations are tax deductible, and receipts are available. For more information, contact Gary Marshall at 541-493-2494, or Cindy Lofts at 541-589-1965.


Private landowners ready to enroll in program 

Oregon ranchers are embracing an opportunity to further conservation for the greater sage-grouse while working together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Harney Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

Today (May 21), the Service and the SWCD entered into a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) as part of ongoing efforts toward conservation of greater sage-grouse. In a CCAA, landowners voluntarily agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to a species. In return, landowners receive assurances against additional regulatory requirements should that species ever be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“As a rancher, I am excited that the Harney Soil and Water Conservation District and leaders of Harney County worked with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to develop a tool that can help preserve the cultural and economic activities of our rural communities while meeting the habitat needs of sage-grouse,” said Stacy Davies, manager of Roaring Springs Ranch. “The CCAA gives landowners an opportunity to maintain grazing and other traditional agricultural uses on their land and protect those uses should an ESA listing occur.”

Added Robyn Thorson, the Service’s Pacific Region director, “Teaming with private landowners is an essential part of protecting this country’s unique species. This partnership is a prime example of how we can effectively work together to develop sufficient protections for the greater sage-grouse while at the same time, protecting the future of an important economic driver in Oregon. This is a huge win-win for everybody involved.”

This CCAA covers more than 1 million acres of private rangelands within the range of greater sage-grouse in Harney County.  Private landowners collectively owning 250,000 acres have committed to enroll, and seven other Oregon counties are pursuing CCAAs of their own.  These agreements have the potential to conserve the majority of greater sage-grouse habitat on private lands in Oregon.

“Landowners in Eastern Oregon are highly concerned about the cultural, social and economic impacts of our rural way of life by the potential listing of greater sage-grouse under the ESA,” said Carol Dunten, SWCD chairwoman and private landowner. “The Harney County CCAA was created by a diverse group of stakeholders working with the Service to develop a proactive voluntary private land management plan that provides greater sage-grouse habitat conservation. Based on the initial interest in enrollment, this plan will demonstrate agriculture’s commitment to protect the species.”

Landowners who voluntarily enroll will develop site specific plans that address threats to sage-grouse and maintain or improve habitat. In Harney County, the two largest factors causing habitat loss are wildfire in low-elevation sagebrush and a resulting increase of exotic annual grasses, and juniper encroachment in upper-elevation sagebrush. All participating landowners will agree to maintain contiguous habitat and avoid further fragmentation on enrolled lands. Activities that benefit greater sage-grouse include juniper removal, invasive annual grass and weed control, and marking fences known to be a strike hazard for sage-grouse.

The SWCD formed a steering committee to collaboratively develop this programmatic agreement.  Steering committee members included local private landowners and representatives from the SWCD, Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Harney County Court, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State University Extension, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Department of State Lands, and Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center.

Greater sage-grouse currently occur in 11 states and two Canadian provinces, and loss and fragmentation of habitat is the primary threat across its range. In Oregon, greater sage-grouse were once found in most sagebrush habitats east of the Cascades.   Greater sage-grouse were listed as a candidate species in 2010. The Service is scheduled to make a final listing decision in September 2015.

For more information about greater sage-grouse and to view the agreement, visit http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/.


Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

The cows in the foreground were selected from a herd in Idaho that witnessed multiple, confirmed wolf predation episodes. They bunched up in a protective formation during the simulated wolf encounter and showed other signs of fear-related stress. The cows in the background were taken from the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns. They were unfamiliar with wolves and did not show signs of stress during the simulation. (Submitted photo)

The cows in the foreground were selected from a herd in Idaho that witnessed multiple, confirmed wolf predation episodes. They bunched up in a protective formation during the simulated wolf encounter and showed other signs of fear-related stress. The cows in the background were taken from the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns. They were unfamiliar with wolves and did not show signs of stress during the simulation. (Submitted photo)

The Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) hosted a Beef Cattle Field Day Thursday, May 15 at the Harney County Fairgrounds.

Reinaldo Cooke attended to provide a presentation regarding the impacts of wolf predation on cattle behavior and stress responses.

Cooke grew up in a mid-sized town in the state of São Paulo, Brazil and received a bachelor of science degree in animal sciences from São Paulo State University in 2003. He moved to the United States to attend graduate school in the fall of 2004 and earned both master of science (May 2006) and doctorate (December 2008) degrees in animal sciences from the University of Florida. In January 2009, he joined Oregon State University (OSU) as an assistant professor, and he is currently stationed at the EOARC in Burns.

Before moving to Oregon, Cooke contacted the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) to inquire about the challenges facing beef producers in the state. And, because the animals are not present in Florida and Brazil, Cooke said he was surprised when the OCA president expressed concern about wolves.

Upon moving westward, Cooke began researching wolves and talking to producers about the impact that these predators were having on cattle.

Since their reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park, gray wolves have migrated to western states (including agricultural lands in Idaho and Oregon) and hunted in livestock grazing areas.

Producers reported losing animals to wolf-related injury and death. And, on top of that, they said cows that witnessed wolf attacks exhibited nervous, aggressive and excitable behavior toward humans and dogs. Producers said these cows also had lower pregnancy rates, were more sickly, and their calves weighed less.

Cooke hypothesized that these reported responses can be associated with the stress that cows experienced when they graze lands where wolves are present. He added that merely sensing (seeing, smelling or hearing) a predator can elicit these stress responses. And multiple studies by Cooke and other researchers had already established a link between cow stress and decreases in their productivity and welfare.

Cooke said this “seems like common sense,” but a scientifically-sound study was needed to document what producers were observing. Thus, with funding from the Oregon Beef Council, he began working with other researchers to develop a controlled environment in which results could be replicated and recorded.

Cooke simulated a wolf encounter using 100 cows. Fifty were selected from the EOARC in Burns, and they were unfamiliar with wolves. The other 50 were randomly selected from a commercial operation in Council, Idaho that had experienced multiple, confirmed wolf predation episodes. However, none of the Idaho cows were directly predated or injured by wolves.

The Idaho cows were relocated to the EOARC and given about two months to acclimate to the new environment and co-mingle with the Burns cows before the study took place.

At the beginning of the study, all of the cows were processed to determine their baseline stress values. They were assigned a chute score (based on their temperament and how fast they exited the squeeze chute); blood samples were taken to measure their cortisol (stress hormone) levels; and thermometers were planted to take their temperatures.

Cooke said pre-simulation scores showed that the Idaho cows were already more aggressive than the Burns cows, and they had higher levels of cortisol.

The cows were then sorted by previous wolf exposure and placed in two adjacent dry lot pens separated by a fence line. Next, they were exposed to a 20-minute simulated wolf encounter.

Three sensory cues were used to simulate the presence of wolves. The scent cue was created by attaching cotton plugs saturated with wolf urine to the fence line. The auditory cue was created by playing previously-recorded wolf howls on a stereo that was placed out of the cows’ site. And, for the visual cue, three trained dogs with physical characteristics resembling wolves were walked on leashes outside the perimeter of the fence.

“What we found was that, as soon as we started the wolf howls, the Idaho cows formed a protective formation,” Cooke said, explaining that they bunched up in the corner of the pen. “To use slang, they basically freaked out.”

On the contrary, the Burns cows didn’t show any signs of stress and even seemed curious about the dogs.

The cows were processed again to determine their stress values after the simulated encounter. After the simulation, the Idaho cows acted more aggressive in the chute, had a 30 percent increase in cortisol levels, and a greater increase in body temperate (compared to the Burns cows).

Cooke explained that body temperature increases with stress, adding that it’s “not a very good thing for health and production.”

Chute scores for Burns cows remained the same before and after the simulation, as did their cortisol levels. They had a mild increase in temperature, but researchers believe it could be attributed to  handling and physical activity.

“That basically documents and supports what producers have been telling us over the last few years,” Cooke said, explaining that the simulated encounter increased excitability and fear-related physiological stress responses in cows that were previously exposed to wolves, but not in cows that were unfamiliar with them.

Cooke added that the study simulated a single wolf encounter, and he asked the audience to imagine the impact of multiple encounters over time. He asserted that cows can develop a chronic stress response that is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s a huge extrapolation, but it makes sense on the stress subject,” Cooke said.

He explained that, like the soldiers who are fighting for their lives in Afghanistan, cows that are consistently exposed to wolves have a constant fear of dying. Both can develop a memory of that fear, and a stress response can occur if that memory is triggered.

“Once they [the cows] develop this memory and they understand that wolves are predators, every time they see, hear or smell wolves, they are going to get a stress response,” Cooke explained. He added that this stress can have “pretty deep implications on productivity.”

And Cooke said this loss of productivity can translate into economic losses for producers.

“We believe that loss in productivity because of the stress that cows go through is putting a ding on profitability,” Cooke said.

John Williams, an OSU extension agent in Wallowa County, estimated that wolves in Northeastern Oregon could cost producers around $261 per head of cattle, including $55 for weight loss and $67 for lower pregnancy rates.

Cooke said he doesn’t know of any established wolf packs in the Burns area. However, he said wolves “reproduce pretty fast,” and as the wolf population grows in the state, “new packs could be established that could move west and south and more into our area.”

After the presentation, a member of the audience asked whether the research could be put forward to policy makers to help inform management decisions.

Cooke said the study was a “good start,” but suggested that more research be conducted to better understand the impacts of wolves on beef cattle productivity and welfare, as well as determine ways that wolves and livestock might coexist.

“This is the first step on a long ladder that we have to climb,” Cooke said. “We are just beginning to understand how wolves can impact beef cattle.”

He added, “I think all species have the right to thrive. We need to keep doing research to understand how wolves impact cattle production, which is the main agricultural commodity in the state. Also, we need to see how beef production impacts wolf population dynamics.”

•••

Dustin Johnson, an OSU extension agent in Harney County, attended the field day to provide an update on sage grouse management efforts.

Johnson explained that local landowners expressed concern about how the upcoming U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision concerning whether to list sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) could impact their ranching operations.

In an effort to address these concerns, a diverse range of individuals and organizations worked together to develop a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA).

A CCAA is a voluntary agreement in which landowners agree to manage their lands to remove or reduce threats to a species that may become listed under the ESA. In return, landowners receive assurances against additional regulatory requirements should that species ever be listed.

Johnson said, so far, at least 40 landowners in Harney County have signed onto the agreement. And other Oregon counties with sage grouse populations are considering adapting Harney County’s CCAA model.

A member of the audience asked whether the CCAA could be applied to other flora and fauna.

Johnson replied that, because an ecologically-based frame work was used to develop the agreement, he believes other range-based species will benefit from it.

Another audience member, who identified himself as a Crook County rancher, expressed concern that some producers and landowners within his county will be skeptical of forming an agreement with the government.

Johnson emphasized that landowners participated in the CCAA development process.

And Harney County rancher Bill Wilber said it is “common sense” for landowners to participate.

•••

Other field day presenters included:

• Dave Bohnert, EOARC director and associate professor of ruminant nutrition at OSU, who provided a presentation regarding nutritional management for beef cattle during drought;

• Richard Linhart, a technical services veterinarian with the Zoetis Beef Veterinary Operations team, who discussed the importance of vaccinations, as well as the difference between modified-live virus vaccines and killed-virus vaccines; and

• Ron Gill, a professor and extension livestock specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension, who provided a cattle handling demonstration in the grandstands. The demonstration was sponsored by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.


Ideal weather greeted participants from around the state

Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Harney County’s Quinton Nyman in the team roping. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Harney County’s Quinton Nyman in the team roping. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

The Harney County High School Rodeo Team hosted a two-day rodeo Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18, at the Harney County Fairgrounds.

The Harney County participants had a good first day of competition. Tyler Opie placed second in steer wrestling with a time of 4.19, and fourth in tie down roping with a time of 12.76. Opie (heeler) also partnered with Quinton Nyman (header) for a third-place finish in team roping with a time of 11.89.

Trey Recanzone came in seventh in tie down roping (14.48), and he (heeler) and Zach Raley (header) were ninth in team roping (23.72).

The second day of competition wasn’t as kind to the Harney County team as only Nyman and Opie placed. They finished seventh in team roping with a time of 13.95.

Hunter Davis also competed in saddle bronc for the Harney County team both days.


Court discusses sage grouse issues

by Samantha White 
Burns Times-Herald

Gretchen Jones, a volunteer with Harney County Save A Stray (HCSAS), attended the regular meeting of the Harney County Court (held May 7) to discuss the possibility of developing a sanctuary for  feral cats.

According to its website, HCSAS is a nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to re-homing pets in need and reducing pet overpopulation through the promotion of humane spay/neuter practices.”

Jones said HCSAS spayed/neutered about 70 cats two years ago and would like to hold a similar clinic again. Additionally, HCSAS would like to trap feral cats and relocate them to a sanctuary.  From there, the organization would work with a variety of shelters to get the cats adopted out.

Jones requested that the county lease a foreclosed property that HCSAS could fix up and convert into a sanctuary.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said he was “very much in support of doing this.” However, he added that the lease agreement would have to ensure that the sanctuary is well-maintained and that HCSAS would never turn responsibility over to the county.

“We better work through this so it’s a well-understood agreement and it comes with some assurances,” Grasty said.

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels said he believed the cats would be taken to other shelters if HCSAS were ever disbanded. He added that the organization has done a lot with little funding and has saved the sheriff and police departments a lot of time.

“It’s worth looking at,” Runnels said. “I think they [HCSAS] are willing to go through the steps.”

“There isn’t anything that would restrict us from coming up with a number that’s affordable,” Grasty said. “But we better come up with a way to keep the neighbors happy.”

Jones said the property that is currently being considered has vacant lots on both sides of it and one behind it.

Both Grasty and Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols expressed concern that the feral cat problem will be ongoing.

Jones acknowledged that this is an ongoing problem and emphasized the importance of educating the public about the issue.

Grasty suggested that Jones work with the cities of Burns and Hines to identify areas where animals are being dumped and attempt to cite the people who are responsible.

Runnels agreed to work with HCSAS to develop a lease agreement.

•••

The court also resumed its discussion concerning sage grouse.

County Planning Director Brandon McMullen was present to discuss the Sage Grouse Conservation Partnership (SageCon) “framework model.”

According to its website, SageCon “coordinates federal, state and local efforts (current and projected) to address the multiple threats to sage grouse across the Eastern Oregon sagebrush landscape in anticipation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review of the bird’s ‘Warranted But Precluded’ status under the federal Endangered Species Act.”

McMullen explained that SageCon’s framework allows for a 3 percent cap of human-caused disturbance in proposed sage grouse habitat areas (polygons).

“I got so frustrated in that SageCon meeting that I had to walk out of the room,” Grasty said, explaining that he was previously told that this type of framework would not be used.

“This is just another regulation that doesn’t need to occur,” Nichols said, adding that, “Enough is enough!”

Nichols suggested that the counties take a stand, collectively agreeing not to take further action regarding any regulation with land use.

The court agreed to draft a resolution and present it to the Association of Oregon Counties.

•••

The court discussed an idea to implement a county-wide transient room tax (TRT).

A TRT is a tax imposed by a unit of local government on the sale, service or furnishing of transient (temporary) lodging.

The cities of Burns and Hines currently collect a TRT, and a percentage of the revenue is given to the  Harney County Chamber of Commerce for tourism promotion.

Grasty suggested appointing a committee to explore the possibility of a county-wide TRT, explaining that the idea was discussed at a recent Hines Common Council meeting.

Nichols said he opposed the idea of implementing the tax.

And, upon recommendation from Runnels, the court agreed to contact neighboring counties to determine whether they implement a county-wide TRT, before continuing to consider forming a committee.

•••

Travis Williams was present to discuss continued efforts to document existing roads in Harney County.

Williams has been working with local agricultural producers to document roads that have been used historically and that are currently being used for economic operation.

Grasty explained, “The purpose of this is just to say, ‘This is a road system within Harney County that we know about today.’ And maybe we can protect it.”

•••

Harney County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Tom Sharp was present to provide an update.

Sharp reported that an Emergency Management Performance Grant was received, and it will be used toward the purchase of flame-retardant shirts for more than 100 Rangeland Fire Protection Association volunteers in Harney County.

This is a 50/50 matching grant, and the shirts must be purchased by June 30.

Sharp also reported that  the 50-kilowatt, automatic emergency generator has been successfully installed at the Harney County Public Health Department.

•••

The court reviewed a letter from the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) to Sally Jewell, secretary of the Department of the Interior, requesting that the department “take action to protect Steens Mountain.”

Specifically, ONDA requested that the department revokes its Dec. 28, 2011 Record of Decision and the associated Right-of-Way grants issued by the Bureau of Land Management for the Echanis Wind Energy Project that Columbia Energy Partners proposed for Steens Mountain.

The court also reviewed  the draft rebuttal letter from the court to Jewell.

The draft letter states that, “ONDA chose to not participate in the (required by Oregon law) local land use plan decision process…Given that this is a local land use issue, you should reject ONDA’s invitation to intervene in issues properly before the local comprehensive planning process.”

•••

In other business, the court:

• appointed Junior Hurd, Jon Reponen, Bill Wilber, Brendan Cain, Gary Knudsen, and Grasty to the Harney County Park Advisory Committee;

• adopted Resolution 2013-12, as amended. Under the amended resolution, the worker compensation insurance rate will be computed at an hourly rate for home health volunteers;

• discussed the administrative changes that were suggested in the Audit Management Letter from Oster Professional Group dated March 28. Grasty explained that the audit was from the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Since then, software has been updated, and entirely different systems are in place. Thus, most of the business processes have changed, and the suggestions have been incorporated. Grasty stressed that there were no findings in the audit, just administrative issues;

• met with Lisa Moody and other representatives from Treasure Valley Community College (TVCC) to discuss the out-of-district contract and billing for out-of-district services;

• approved an Intergovernmental Agreement between Harney and Grant counties. Grant County will continue to assume responsibility for Oregon Health Division licensing, inspection and enforcement programs relating to food service, tourist facility, swimming facility and drinking water;

• discussed Regional Economic Development Projects. Projects need to be submitted to the legislature by June 15;

• received a letter from a neighboring landowner concerning a dam that was recently constructed on the slough off of Newton Road. The court will continue to monitor the situation;

• learned from Williams that the 4-H / FFA Livestock Committee is preparing to reconstruct the bleachers near the show ring at the Harney County Fairgrounds.

Williams asked for funding assistance for permit fees.

Grasty said he will see what can be done.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, May 21, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.


 by Steve Howe
Burns Times-Herald

Douglas Manger (left) and Julie Johnson discuss her Paiute beadwork. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Douglas Manger (left) and Julie Johnson discuss her Paiute beadwork. (Photo by STEVE HOWE)

Harney County folklife is alive and strong. That was the prevailing message at a presentation by Douglas Manger, a contract fieldworker for the Oregon Folklife Network. Manger presented at the Harney County Library on Thursday, May 8.

Manger, a folklorist based in Texas, spent a week-and-a-half in the county conducting a cultural survey of the area. This involved documenting the activities of some of the region’s “tradition-keepers.” These traditions include silver-smithing, bead-work, saddle-making, cowboy poetry, and fiddle-playing, among others.

Manger’s work supports a larger-scale project by the Oregon Folklife Network (OFN). Established in 2010, the mission of OFN is “…to make a meaningful difference in Oregon communities and Tribes by documenting, supporting, and celebrating our diverse cultural traditions and by empowering our tradition-bearers,” according to their website.

According to a press release from the University of Oregon, OFN was awarded funding by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the purpose of documenting traditions and conducting surveys in Malheur, Harney, Lake, and Klamath counties.

Manger’s presentation encompassed both images and audio recordings. He traveled the county, taking photos and recording interviews with area musicians, craftspeople, artists, and others.

A few of Manger’s interviewees were in attendance at the presentation. Julie Johnson presented her Paiute bead-work, and discussed the various styles and how they have changed throughout the years. She also addressed the question of the importance of preserving cultural traditions. Working in the field of substance abuse prevention, Johnson recognized that these traditions play an integral part in deterring the use of drugs and alcohol.

“We always say, culture is prevention,” Johnson explained.

Another presenter, Randi Johnson, demonstrated the cowboy poetry tradition with the recitation of one of her poems.

According to Riki Saltzman, executive director of OFN, Manger’s report will be archived at the University of Oregon, and an edited version will be published on OFN’s website. The information will be used to make recommendations for, and to offer technical assistance to, local cultural organizations, communities, and individual folk artists.

Although Manger’s time in Harney County is complete, OFN welcomes anyone to offer recommendations for cultural traditions that they believe should be documented. Feel free to contact OFN at 541-346-3820, or through their website at ofn.uoregon.edu.


Whaddya Think?

Which of these fashion faux pas is the most repulsive?
  • Exposed undergarments (63%)
  • Socks and sandals (21%)
  • Fanny packs (6%)
  • Sneakers and formal wear (4%)
  • Clashing colors and/or prints (4%)
  • High-water pants (2%)

48 total vote(s)

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