by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Alan “Chip” Dale, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) High Desert Region manager, and SageCon Coordinator Jamie Damon attended the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Court (held July 1) to discuss the proposed Oregon Administrative Rules.

The rules establish ODFW’s policy for the protection and enhancement of greater sage grouse in Oregon. They also incorporate and supplement portions of the 2011 Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Assessment and Strategy for Oregon, which sets population and habitat management objectives, and defines and governs ODFW’s core area strategy. Additionally, the rules advance sage grouse population and habitat protection through a mitigation hierarchy and establish a mitigation standard for impacts of development actions in sage grouse habitat.

Population management

The proposed rules state that sage grouse must be managed statewide to maintain or enhance their abundance and distribution at the 2003 spring breeding population level (approximately 30,000 birds during the next 50 years.) Regionally, the Burns District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is to maintain or enhance sage grouse abundance and distribution at approximately 4,300 birds.

Habitat management

ODFW’s habitat management goals include:

• maintaining or enhancing the distribution of sagebrush habitats within greater sage grouse range in Oregon;

• managing those habitats in a variety of structural stages to benefit greater sage grouse, while reducing threats and promoting resilience;

• avoiding development actions in sage grouse core, low-density, and general habitats that adversely impact sage grouse habitat or sage grouse use of those habitats.

“Development action” is defined as any human-caused activity subject to regulation by local, state, or federal agencies that could result in the loss of fish and wildlife habitat.

Containing very high, high, or moderate lek density, “core areas” are mapped sagebrush types or other habitats that support greater sage grouse. “Low-density” areas contain low lek density, and “general habitat” is occupied (seasonal or year-round) habitat outside of core and low-density habitats;

• limit the extent, location, and negative impacts of development actions over time within sage grouse core, low-density, and general habitats. In core areas, direct impacts from human-caused disturbance will be limited to no more than 3 percent of any Priority Area for Conservation (PAC) and at a rate of less than 1 percent during a 10-year period.

“PACs” are key habitats defined by state sage grouse conservation plans or through other sage grouse conservation efforts. In Oregon, core area habitats are PACs;

• require compensatory mitigation for direct and indirect impacts from developments within sage grouse core, low-density, and general habitats. Ensure that such mitigation provides a net conservation benefit to sage grouse and their habitat by providing an increase in the functionality of their habitat.

The habitat management objective is to manage at least 70 percent of greater sage grouse range for sagebrush habitat in advanced structural stages. The approximately 30 percent remaining (which includes areas of juniper encroachment, non-sagebrush shrub land, and grasslands) should be managed to increase available habitat within greater sage grouse range.

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said he didn’t like the rules’ use of the word “disturbance” in this instance, especially considering that there’s a 3 percent disturbance cap.

“Aspen groves are not a disturbance,” he said.

Dale replied that the 3 percent disturbance cap relates to human development.

Grasty asked, “What development? What are we screwing up?”

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols said percentages are difficult to define, adding that the “no net loss” parameter is much more measurable, definable, and acceptable.

Core area approach to conservation

ODFW’s core area approach addresses greater sage grouse management from a conservation biology perspective that identifies the most productive populations and habitats. The department will develop and maintain maps that identify core area habitats necessary to conserve 90 percent of Oregon’s greater sage grouse population. ODFW will also develop and maintain maps identifying low-density habitat.

Mitigation hierarchy

The rules state that developers must mitigate adverse impacts (both direct and indirect) to sage grouse and their habitats in sage grouse core, low-density, and general habitat. Mitigation is comprised, in hierarchal order, of avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation.

Barbara Cannady commented that the mitigation hierarchy “prices people out of doing anything.”

“The ordinary person is just dead in the water,” she said, adding that private landowners will be unable to develop their own property. “It’s not about the bird,” she said. “It’s about taking private property rights.”

Community impact

Several others expressed concern regarding the potential implications of the proposed rules.

Harney County Planning Director Brandon McMullen asked how often lek statuses will be updated.

Dale replied that he doesn’t believe core areas will change, as the attributes that make up a core area aren’t expected to change.

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels said, “You try to avoid core. You try to avoid low-density. You look at the map of Harney County, and what’s left? Really, what’s left? People look at it and say, ‘I’m not going to Harney County. I’m not going through the process.’”

Nichols said, “This whole deal has taken motivation out of anyone doing basically anything. It’s so restrictive.”

He added that the consequences are dire for the community.

“The message here is don’t come to Southeast Oregon. It’s going to be incredibly difficult for us to survive this,” Grasty said.

“Oregon has had the strictest land use laws for decades,” Nichols added. “This is again about land control and further restricting what people of this community can do. End of story.”

“We’re frustrated too,” Damon replied. “We’re trying to figure out what the best leg is Oregon can stand on. This is the best that we’ve come up with. We’re wrapped up with 11 western states with a [potential Endangered Species Act] listing.”

She said the Oregon Administrative Rules are part of what will be presented to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the agency that will make the listing decision), adding that the state can either put together a case or wait and see what happens with the listing.

Nichols replied, “People like you try, and I appreciate what you’re doing, but, bottom line, it’s not about the bird. It’s not going to be good for the bird because the right things are not being done, and it’s not going to  be good for our community. Single-species management is not good for ecology.”

Randy Whitaker of Harney Electric Cooperative Inc. pointed out that sage grouse can still legally be hunted.

Bill Wilber, a local rancher and Oregon Cattlemen’s Association representative, asked, “What the hell’s going on here? We’re going to be run off the range, and you’re still shooting sage grouse?”

Dale replied that it’s the most regulated and conservative hunt in Oregon.

Wilber added that predators are the greatest problem for sage grouse.

“You need to address it,” he said. “Do it.”

Both Dale and Damon admitted that there’s still some work to do on the rules.

A public hearing regarding the proposed Oregon Administrative Rules will be held July 22 in Burns


The court also discussed a letter (dated May 7) that Grasty wrote to the BLM on behalf of Harney, Lake and Malheur counties regarding the Proposed Plan Amendment Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Greater Sage Grouse.

Grasty stated that substantial changes were made between the draft and this proposed final EIS without the input of the Oregon counties, and he requested that the BLM:

• provide the cooperating county agencies specific information on the changes, impacts and purpose that is sufficient enough for them to review and comment consistent with both their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) cooperating agency role and Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) consistency and coordination roles;

• extend the 30-day comment period to review the EIS before it’s issued; and

• write a formal letter to all affected counties requesting a start to FLPMA coordination and consistency reviews.

A response came in the form of a letter (dated June 25) that was signed by Deputy State Director Theresa M. Hanley on behalf of Oregon/Washington State Director Jerome E. Perez.

Hanley noted that the BLM provided a “track changes” version of the proposed plan, and she’s “confident that the BLM’s efforts since [Grasty] wrote [his] letter have helped to address this first request.”

She explained that the request to extend the cooperating agency review period was denied “because the schedule associated with this planning effort cannot accommodate such an extension.” However, she noted that the counties have an additional opportunity to provide input during the 60-day Governor’s Consistency Review, which ends July 29.

Regarding the request for formal letters, Hanley wrote, “All counties with sage grouse habitat were invited to participate as cooperating agencies in this effort and have been invited to participate several times in the process up through May of 2015. There is no formal ‘review’ requirement as you suggest during coordination under FLPMA…Therefore, the BLM will not be sending any correspondence out to the counties in addition to what has already been provided.”

Regarding Hanley’s letter, Grasty said, “I’m not going to belabor it because it makes me so angry.”


In other business, the court:

• discussed the Harney County Deputy’s Association union contract during a special meeting on June 30. No decisions will be made until the final contract is presented to the court;

• decided during its June 30 special meeting to change from Citycounty Insurance Services to SAIF Corporation for its workers’ compensation coverage;

• discussed the memorandum of understanding  that Grasty signed with PARC Resources to prepare an analysis of the impact of the EIS for Greater Sage Grouse on the regulatory responsibilities of the county under Oregon land use law.

Grasty explained that the goal is to compare the EIS with land use plans to determine whether they’re consistent.

“If they are inconsistent and we determine we should be appealing the EIS, it also gives us a basis to do that,” Grasty said;

• reviewed and discussed the preliminary engineering report for the Juntura Cutoff Road with Harney County Roads Supervisor Eric Drushella;

• discussed the contract and auto lease agreement for Harney County Senior and Community Services Center for Dial-A-Ride transportation services with Director Angie Lamborn. Grasty signed both documents;

• received an update from Wilber concerning the Arrowhead Plaza project;

• discussed nuisance abatement properties. Grasty will meet with county counsel regarding this matter;

• received bids from Pape Machinery and Western States for a loader for the county road department. Drushella will provide his recommendations during the next county court meeting;

• received a notice from Malheur National Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin stating that an oral auction for saw timber will take place July 22;

• discussed Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding;

• received a copy of a Linn County resolution in the matter of supporting Second Amendment rights. Nichols requested that the court make a declaration showing Harney County’s support for the Second Amendment. Grasty will ask county counsel to draft a statement or resolution to be presented to the court for consideration;

• briefly discussed the upcoming Association of Oregon Counties Summer Summit that will be held in Bend.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the county court will be held Wednesday, July 15, at 10 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

A meeting to review the livestock grazing portion of the Blue Mountains Revised Forest Plans will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, at the Harney County Community Center at 484 N. Broadway in Burns.

According to Maura Laverty, grazing lead for the forest service on the Revised Forest Plan, there are several purposes for the meeting. “First,” Laverty said, “we would like to share with the public what we heard about grazing during the comment period. Second, we would like to talk about the legislation that permits and ensures grazing on forest service lands. Third, we want to hear what folks think about the preferred alternative in the Revised Forest Plan and how it relates to grazing on the southern Malheur National Forest.  Lastly, we are interested in hearing where folks think we should go from here with the preferred alternative.”

Sabrina Stadler, Forest Plan Revision team leader added, “The forest service is looking for recommendations that will help us build better plans.”

This meeting is one of a series of meetings being held in Burns and across northeast Oregon this summer to gain more public input on the Revised Forest Plan and specifically on the issues of access, grazing and the pace and scale of restoration.

The High Desert Partnership is sponsoring the meeting and will be providing the facilitation services of Seneca rancher Jack Southworth. As part of their mission, the High Desert Partnership supports groups engaging in the collaborative process including the Harney County Restoration Collaborative that has led to successful forest restoration and timber harvest projects on the southern Malheur National Forest.

If you have concerns or interest in grazing on national forest lands, please make plans to attend this meeting on July 14. For more information, contact Jack Southworth at 541-542-2558.

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Thanks to a grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, the city of Burns will make more improvements at the Burns Cemetery.

At the Burns City Council meeting Wednesday, June 24, it was announced that the city had received a $5,300 grant to go toward creating a burial information center in the chapel at the cemetery. The match amount for the city is $7,300, which includes volunteer and employee time, brings the total cost of the project to $12,600.

Dick Day, a member of the cemetery committee, told the council the chapel will be repainted and maps, showing the sections and grave locations in the cemetery, will be placed inside. He added that city hall will also have a map of the cemetery and index so if someone comes in looking for information, city hall staff can provide it in an efficient manner.

Councilor Dan Hoke noted that Lois Taylor had spent numerous hours making sure grave locations were correct and creating a data base, and thanked her and the others for their work on the project.

Day, Taylor, Jackie Caizza and Jan Cupernall worked on the specifics and submitted the grant request to the state.


City Manager (CM) Dauna Wensenk reported they had received eight applications for the public works director position and there were six candidates that she would like to be interviewed for the position.

The council discussed possible dates to conduct interviews and decided to hold them Wednesday, July 8, beginning at 9 a.m.


Deputy Tax Collector Karen Zabala was present to discuss with the council  the foreclosure process regarding four properties in the city that had been designated as nuisances and dangerous buildings.

Zabala explained the redemption process and time lines for each location and identified the Oregon statutes that apply to the proceedings.

Later in the meeting, the council approved Resolution No. 15-608 ordering the nuisance at 730 South Egan to be abated, and the dangerous building at the same location to be removed.


CM Wensenk stated the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had contacted the city and had recognized they had underpaid the city $14,267.23 in rental payments from March 1, 2006, to Feb. 29, 2016 for the BLM facility at the Burns Municipal Airport. She explained their lease year begins in March and they will continue to the city the same amount they are currently paying through February 2016. After that date, the adjusted rental amounts will go into effect and will be paid on an annual basis.


Regarding the automated irrigation system at Triangle Park, CM Wensenk stated the city received one bid for the project. She stated there are only two licensed landscape companies in Harney County, and the bid received was from Paul Everett Bradley — Landscape Services in the amount of $18,499.

The council voted unanimously to accept the bid.


Harney County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chelsea Harrison told the council the Burns Paiute Tribe had established a strategic plan, and the plan included liquidating merchandise stored in the tribe’s building on North Broadway.

Harrison asked the council for permission to close off A Street next to the building July 10-11 so the merchandise can be moved into the street for the sale.

The council approved the request.


The council approved Resolution No. 15-605, allowing the city to apply for $50,000 from the state of Oregon to be used for street repair.

The work includes a chip sealing project on West Pierce Street and crack sealing Railroad and South Egan avenues.

The council approved Resolution No. 15-606, a resolution adopting the budget in the amount of $6,875,030, making appropriations and imposing and categorizing taxes.

The council also approved Resolution No. 15-607, setting the rates for water and sewer services provided by the city, pursuant to the water and sewer ordinance.

Mayor Craig LaFollette stated the city has a system in place that includes a table of scheduled rates created to keep the water and sewer fund solvent.

The resolution includes a 1 percent increase to water rates and a 3 percent increase to sewer rates.


In other business:

• the council approved an application from Burns Elks Lodge No. 1680 to hold a street dance, with beer garden, from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4;

• the council reviewed a liquor license application from Jeff Evans of the Beer and Smoke Shop at 493 South Kearney. Mayor LaFollette said a letter from Police Chief Newt Skunkcap accompanied the application, and Skunkcap recommended denying the application.

During a discussion, Skunkcap stated Evans wasn’t truthful on some questions he answered during the process.

It was pointed out that even of the city denied the application, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission could still grant a license.

Councilor Hoke determined that alcohol wasn’t sold on the premises before Evans bought the business, so if the problems were taken care, Evans could then re-apply.

“I just want to give him a chance,” Hoke said.

The council voted to deny the application;

• Harrison reported the Seven Wonders of Harney County ad was on the back cover of the June issue of the Cascade A&E magazine, and presented a copy to each councilor.

She said that arts and entertainment have been in the top five of searches on the chamber’s website for the past two years, and the magazine is a great way to promote the local events in Central Oregon.

She also reminded those in attendance of the activities planned for the Fourth of July;

• CM Wensenk recommended that Dawn Crafts be appointed to the position of city clerk on July 1, and she hoped to have the position of accounts receivable/payroll clerk filled by Aug. 1;

• The council also reviewed  a request for refueling and de-icing fees at the airport from Airport Manager Jeff Cotton.

The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at city hall.

Bishop reports on the state of the district

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Harney District Hospital (HDH) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jim Bishop began the regularly-scheduled meeting of the Harney County Health District Board of Directors (held June 24) with a presentation detailing the district’s history. The district is celebrating its 25-year anniversary July 1.

“Elected leaders and community volunteers looked to the future and did what’s right, instead of what’s easy,” Bishop said regarding the formation of the district. “Honestly, I think they were crazy or half crazy to think they could pull this off.”

He added that the district achieved all five of the top goals that were put forward when it was founded, and he encouraged the board to continue its efforts to ensure another 25 years of success.


Bishop, who is retiring after nearly 15 years of service, provided the board with his final State of the Harney County Health District report.

He reported that there are more than 180 full and part-time positions within the district, and employment will continue to rise. For example, two new family practice doctors and their support staff are being hired. Additionally, HDH Family Care clinic will add staff to increase outreach and expand hours of operation to six full days per week.  Behavioral health services will also be added to the clinic, and the district will add surgical staff as procedure numbers increase.

According to Bishop, employee surveys indicate that job satisfaction is above average. He added that employee wages and benefits exceed $1 million per month, adding significantly to the local economy.

Bishop observed slow declines in inpatient census, which he attributed to regulatory changes that promote shorter inpatient stays,  as well as efforts to promote population health and reduce readmissions. However, he stated that increases in outpatient procedures “more than offset” these small declines. He also noted that there’s been an increase in Medicaid-insured and Veterans Affairs patients.

Bishop also reported that the Paragon hospital information system was installed one year ago, and, although there have been some “bumps in the road,” overall performance has been good. In fact, HDH is one of less than 20 percent of hospitals in the United States that has achieved Meaningful Use II compliance. Meaningful use sets specific objectives for using certified electronic health record technology. Hospitals and eligible professionals must achieve these objectives to qualify for incentive programs. In addition to the expected reimbursement from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, HDH is qualified for a significant bonus.

Bishop wrote that, “In the 25 years of the health district’s existence, its financial health has never been better.”

He explained that, several years ago, the board and administration agreed to hold a minimum level of cash and use any excess to pay extra on the district’s higher interest, long-term debt. At least $800,000 in additional debt reduction is planned for this coming year.

Regarding the district’s future, Bishop stated that providers have embraced health care reforms, which move away from the historic procedure-based healthcare model to focus on wellness, prevention, health outcomes, and cost moderation. The district is achieving leadership in a number of areas, including patient-centered medical home status, care management, close coordination of care and follow up between HDH and the clinic, and adding behavioral health to the clinic. Bishop stated his belief that these efforts will continue to help the district obtain grants, receive fair compensation for services, and recruit and maintain providers and staff.

“I think the health district is well-positioned to move forward into this exciting and challenging future,” he concluded.


The board agreed to approve the 2015-2016 Workplan Goals, which include attracting and retaining high-quality employees, expanding services to address community needs, continuously improving district operations, strengthening the financial base, and developing excellence in reputation and service to the community.


The budget hearing was opened at the beginning of the board meeting, and  budget committee chair Fred Flippence recommended approving the budget with a 4 percent price increase.

HDH Chief Financial Officer Catherine White explained that a 5 percent increase was originally proposed, but the budget committee elected to reduce the increase to 4 percent in order to keep rates as low as possible for the community. She added that each percentage point affects the budget’s bottom line by $150,000.

Board secretary Susan Doverspike noted that Rite Aid is in the process of coming on board with the 340B Drug Pricing Program, which will bring  “a significant chunk of change” to the district that it’s not accustom to receiving.

She added that, prior to committing funds to the proposed clinic remodel, she’d like to pay down debt.

White said she’s working with the Bank of Eastern Oregon on lowering a loan’s interest rate from 6.75 percent to 4.5 percent, which would save approximately $600,000 over the 15 years remaining on the loan. She added that she needs the board’s approval to “get the ball rolling.”

The board agreed to authorize White to move forward with investigation to lower the interest rate.

Upon recommendation from White, the board also agreed to switch the  credit card vendor from Umpqua Bank to Bank of Eastern Oregon.

After closing the hearing, the board agreed to approve the budget for fiscal year 2015-2016, as presented.

Board member Ann Vloedman abstained from  voting to avoid a potential conflict, as her husband is a hospital employee.

The board also passed Resolution 2016-01 adopting the annual budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 in the total amount of $30,955,328, making appropriations, and imposing and categorizing a tax rate of $1.9314 per $1,000 of assessed value.


Board members Tim Smith and Preston Jannsen were recognized and thanked for their service on the board, as both of their terms are ending.

Both Smith and Jannsen thanked the board for the opportunity to serve. Smith also expressed his appreciation for HDH staff, especially White and Bishop.

Vloedman moved to wait another month and continue advertising efforts before filling the board’s vacant positions.

Doverspike seconded the motion, and board chair Dan Brown voted in favor of it. Smith and Jannsen abstained from voting, so the motion passed with two abstentions.


In other business, the board:

• is waiting to hear back from its attorney regarding the Harney County Health District Bylaws;

• learned from HDH Development Coordinator Denise Rose that an architecture company will be on site July 7 to look at the clinic and learn more about team-based care. However, the actual construction phase is not planned in this year’s budget;

• upon recommendation from HDH Human Resources Manager Sammie Masterson, approved Policy 915.HR.309 “Employee Vaccinations and TB Testing” and Policy 915.HR.201 “Drug Free Workplace;”

• received a report from  Clinic Manager Stacie Rothwell, stating that the clinic hired Richard Friday, a behaviorist who will start July 13. She also reported that the clinic began the process of re-attesting to the Oregon Health Authority for Primary Care Medical Home designation;

• approved policies 100.115 “Special Committees,” 100.120 “Removing Board Members,” and 100.125 “Strategic Planning” without changes;

• granted medical staff privileges to Luther Hemphill, certified registered nurse anesthetist (anesthesiology); Nicholas CB Branting, MD (radiology); Henry Elder, MD (psychology); and Dr. Heidi Vanyo (family practice);

• re-appointed Laura Schaben, MD (neurology) to medical staff.

The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 in the hospital board conference room.

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

As of today, July 1, the Burns Times-Herald is under new ownership.

TGRF Media, owned by Randy Fulton and Terry Graham, has purchased the newspaper from Survival Media, LLC, who owned the paper since 2006.

Two of Graham’s sons, Jeff and Nolan, are moving to Harney County from the Portland area to assume duties at the paper. Jeff and his wife, Becky, have four sons, and Nolan and his wife, Brenda, have two sons and a daughter.

Ridin’ high

Posted on July 1st in News
Clint Johnson, a native of Harney County, was one of the competitors in the “Challenge of Champions” bull-riding competition on Saturday, June 27, at the Harney County Fairgrounds. For more photos, please see page 17. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Clint Johnson, a native of Harney County, was one of the competitors in the “Challenge of Champions” bull-riding competition on Saturday, June 27, at the Harney County Fairgrounds. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

As of today, July 1, the Burns Times-Herald is under new ownership.

TGRF Media, owned by Randy Fulton and Terry Graham, has purchased the newspaper from Survival Media, LLC, who owned the paper since 2006.

Two of Graham’s sons, Jeff and Nolan, are moving to Harney County from the Portland area to assume duties at the paper. Jeff and his wife, Becky, have four sons, and Nolan and his wife, Brenda, have two sons and a daughter.

A crash involving two motorcycles and a pickup occurred on Highway 20 near Sage Hen rest area on Thursday. (Submitted photo)

A crash involving two motorcycles and a pickup occurred on Highway 20 near Sage Hen rest area on Thursday. (Submitted photo)

According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Sergeant Brian Williams, on June 18, at about 3:43 p.m., a 2009 Harley Davidson motorcycle, operated by Steven A. Gale, 71, of Montara, Calif., rear-ended another motorcycle on Highway 20 at milepost 114 (near Sage Hen rest area). The other motorcycle, a 2008 Harley Davidson, operated by Robert Resch, 65, of Half Moon Bay, Calif., lost control and crashed on the highway. Resch and his passenger, Janet Kluzik, 54, of Half Moon Bay, Calif., were both ejected.

After striking Resch’s motorcycle, Gale’s motorcycle veered into the path of a 2011 Ford F250 head-on. Gale was deceased upon arrival of emergency crews. The occupants of the F250, Richard Chernabaeff and Kristine Chernabaeff, both of Kerman, Calif., were not injured.

Resch was taken to Harney District Hospital for minor injuries. His passenger, Kluzik, was taken to Saint Charles Medical Center in Bend by air ambulance for serious injuries.

Preliminary information indicates Gale and Resch had been traveling together when they became separated. It appears Gale was traveling at a high rate of speed when he collided with Resch, who had just pulled out from Sage Hen rest area.

OSP was assisted at the scene by the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, Hines Police Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation. The investigation is still continuing and information will be released when it is available.

by Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Glen Allen Hudspeth

Glen Allen Hudspeth

On Tuesday, June 16, Glen Allen Hudspeth was found guilty by a 12-person Harney County Circuit Court jury of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse, and was remanded to custody pending sentencing on June 29.

The trial, which included two cases and 10 counts against Hudspeth, lasted 10 days, and the jury deliberated for two hours before coming back with guilty verdicts on all 10 counts.

In the first case, Hudspeth was found guilty of sodomy in the first degree (forcible compulsion), sodomy in the first degree (mental defect), sexual abuse in the first degree (forcible compulsion), sexual abuse in the first degree (mental defect), sexual abuse in the second degree, and sodomy in the third degree.

In the second case, Hudspeth was found guilty of rape in the first degree (forcible compulsion), rape in the first degree (mental defect), sexual abuse in the second degree and rape in the third degree.

On Dec. 31, 2013, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office conducted a criminal investigation into the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old female in rural Harney County.

Following the investigation, a warrant was issued for Hudspeth, who turned himself in to the Harney County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 6.

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

A group of concerned citizens, local government  officials, and agency representatives met Tuesday, June 16, at the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center to discuss forest access in relation to the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision. The relationship between the Forest Plan Revision and Travel Management Rule was also discussed during the meeting in an effort to clear up any confusion that the public might have concerning these processes.

Additionally, facilitator Jack Southworth hosted a round table discussion in which participants were given an opportunity to ask questions, provide comments, and share their greatest fears concerning forest access.

About the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision

The National Forest Management Act of 1976 requires every national forest or grassland that’s managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to develop and maintain an effective land management plan (also known as a forest plan) to guide future management of natural resources for a period of approximately 10 to 15 years.

However, plans for the Blue Mountains National Forests — which include the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests — haven’t been revised since 1990.

Numerous public meetings, as well as meetings with local, state, and federal agencies and tribes, have been held since the revision process began in 2004. Finally, a draft Forest Plan Revision was released in 2014.

Unfortunately, however, Malheur National Forest Supervisor Steve Beverlin said, “The teacher in the class wouldn’t like the grade we got.”

He added that, of the more than 1,000 comments that were received regarding the proposed revision, the three primary points of contention were regarding access, the pace and scale of restoration, and grazing and other associated uses on the forest.

In an attempt to address these concerns, the USFS decided to take a step back and reengage the public by participating in meetings in affected communities throughout Oregon and Washington.

(Additional meetings will be held in Harney County to address the pace and scale of restoration, as well as grazing and other associated forest uses. A final meeting will provide a recap of all three topics.)

Separate, but connected

During the June 16 access meeting, USFS staff explained that the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision and travel management planning under the Travel Management Rule are both separate and interconnected processes.

Beverlin explained that, although they do not make site-specific or project-level decisions, forest plans “will set the stage for all the activities in the forest.” Thus, travel management planning must be consistent with relevant forest plans.

He added that travel management planning will not be completed on the Malheur National Forest until after the Forest Plan Revision is finished.

About the Travel Management Rule

Announced in 2005, the Travel Management Rule requires every national forest or grassland in the United States to identify and designate the roads, trails, and areas that are open to motor vehicle use.

Dennis Dougherty, Blue Mountain Revision Team recreation planner, explained that these regulations implement Executive Order 11644 “Use of Off-Road Vehicles on Public Lands” — which  was issued by former President Richard Nixon Feb. 8, 1972 — and the May 24, 1977 amendment (Executive Order 11989). These executive orders direct federal agencies to ensure that the use of off-road vehicles on public lands will be controlled and directed in order to protect resources, promote the safety of all users, and minimize conflicts among the various uses on those lands.

The Travel Management Rule is divided into subparts A, B and C.

Subpart A provides an analysis of what is needed to administer and maintain road systems within the forest. Although it is not a decision document, Subpart A will be used to inform future project-level decisions and planning efforts.

Subpart B requires each national forest or ranger district to designate the roads, trails and areas that are open to motor vehicles. The designation must include the class of vehicle and, if appropriate, the time of year for motor vehicle use. Once designation is complete, motor vehicle use off the designated system (or use that is inconsistent with the designations) will be prohibited. Designation decisions will be made locally, with public input and coordination with state, local, and tribal governments. Additionally, the designations will be shown on a motor vehicle use map that can be updated annually.

Subpart C designates the roads, trails, and areas for over-snow vehicle use and applies where snowfall is adequate for that use to occur.

In March 2015, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Jim Peña asked Beverlin and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Tom Montoya to defer any additional work required under Subpart B of the Travel Management Rule until after the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision is complete. However, work on subparts A and C will continue.

The Umatilla National Forest already completed subpart A and B analysis.

Current road closures

Dan Haak, Oregon executive director of the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, asked why roads are being closed prior to travel management planning.

Mike Masterson said he likes to use public lands to hunt, fish and camp, and he fears road closures will prevent him from doing that.

Jon Reponen said he fears the last road to his property will be closed, and Gene Scrivner asked why roads are being closed without public input.

Beverlin replied that some roads have been closed in order to complete projects.

Emigrant Creek District Ranger Christy Cheyne added that project planning is a public process, and she encouraged interested individuals to contact her or Lori Bailey for maps detailing proposed closures.

“As we move forward with projects, I hope you’ll get a map and voice your concerns,” she said.

Public relations

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty said many have developed a trust issue with the USFS. He clarified that the issue is not with individual staff members, but the system as a whole.

Jennie Stearns said she fears “rules are being dictated by outsiders who haven’t got a clue.”

Haak and Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels both expressed concern that mandates from Washington, D.C. will negate the efforts of small focus groups, and Runnels asked whether more weight is given to comments from people who live in the affected areas.

Blue Mountain Revision Team Leader Sabrina Stadler said the Forest Plan Revision is not a voting process, comments are given the same consideration, and deciding officers look at “the greatest good.”

However, Beverlin said more weight is given to local comments because they are generally more specific and can be used to make specific modifications to the proposed revision.

“Name specific roads. We can use that,” he said. “We desire hearing from you to add weight, substance, and agreement to our alternatives.”

Stadler agreed, stating that a comment requesting to keep all of the roads open wouldn’t be specific enough. However, a comment requesting to keep a certain road open so that people can pick berries in the fall would be considered.

Scrivner urged USFS staff to continue participating in public meetings and increase public relations efforts.

“Road closure rings a bell that sets people off,” he said, adding that he’d like agency staff to write public relations pieces explaining the implications that individual projects will have on the roads.

Haak agreed, stating that meetings regarding specific road closures would garner significant public participation, but not a lot of people are willing to attend meetings concerning plans and projects. He added that he’d like to see more young people get involved, as they are the people who will be using the forest when the plans are implemented.

Regarding the proposed rules, regulations and road closures, Cindy Grasty asked, “Does anyone take the time to consider what this does to a community?”

Beverlin replied that the USFS is hiring more people like Regional Social Scientist Lis Grinspoon to provide social and economic analysis.

Grinspoon explained that social scientists gather as much information as they can regarding peoples’ values, attitudes and beliefs concerning the forest and then strive to find an alternative that provides the most comfort to the most people while remaining in compliance with laws and regulations. She explained that this can be especially difficult considering that the people within a community can have many different ideals.

Peace and quiet

Roy Sutcliffe and Karen Nitz both said they’d like to have quiet areas where they can get away from motorized vehicle traffic.

Masterson said he isn’t against having quiet areas, but he expressed concern that his older relatives won’t be able to access the areas that they’ve been visiting for years if roads are closed to motorized travel.

Bob Stearns expressed similar concerns, stating, “I’m at an age where if you close a road, I’m not getting there.”

Sutcliffe replied, “It’s a big playground. I think there’s enough use for all of us.”

Cheyne and Beverlin both said they’d like to discuss quiet area use.

The next steps

Beverlin said efforts to complete the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision will continue, as reengagment meetings are held throughout Oregon and Washington. The revision team will collect and sift through comments in an attempt to incorporate them into the revision’s proposed alternatives.

The public is encouraged to continue the conversation by contacting the revision team via email at or visiting the team’s website at Stadler can also be reached by calling 541-523-1264.

Whaddya Think?

Which game show would you like to be on?
  • Wheel of Fortune (30%)
  • The Price is Right (24%)
  • Jeopardy (18%)
  • Family Feud (18%)
  • Let's Make a Deal (6%)
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionare (4%)

33 total vote(s)

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Destination Harney County

Destination Harney County 2012


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