Court discusses livestock grazing

Posted on August 13th in News

Court rejects Blue Mountains National Forests RLMP/DEIS

by Samantha White
Burns Times-Herald

Denny Thomas and Brandon Baron attended the regular meeting of the Harney County Court (held Aug. 6) to discuss issues concerning livestock grazing and wildfire control.

Thomas asked what the court’s priorities are regarding these topics.

Harney County Commissioner Dan Nichols said he’s been discussing these issues with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

“I’ve got say, the BLM in this district is very responsive to what needs to be done,” Nichols said.

However, he acknowledged that local staff have to act within the parameters of the federal agency.

Baron said, “While we may stand against some BLM policies, we will support the local office if they will stand with us.”

Nichols also mentioned that an Oregon Consensus project was started two years ago to help address these issues.

“We’ve made tremendous headway,” Nichols said regarding the project. However, he admitted that it’s a slow-moving process. “It takes time and patience and people putting everything aside to go to those meetings,” he said.

Baron asked how this progress jibes with research conducted by the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) regarding grazing and fuel load.

Nichols replied that efforts are being made to incorporate that science. He added that groups like the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) are also involved, and they are beginning to understand that grazing can be used as a management tool.

“They are starting to understand their fallacy in some of their ways of looking at things,” Nichols said. “It takes a lot of time. But the process is very much worth it in the end because you work together collectively in a progressive, forward, beneficial manner.”

But Baron replied, “We’ve heard that whatever may be happening isn’t enough.” He added, “We’re at the point where everyone has agreed that the process isn’t working.”

Baron said a small group has been meeting to discuss forming a local grazing board that could make decisions based on EOARC research.

Nichols said the court didn’t disagree with what Baron was doing or his intent.

“We are trying to do the same thing,” he said.

He added that the “first, cheapest” thing you can do is increase the animal unit months (AUMs) that are allowed after a wildfire, but there are standards in place that prevent that. (An article published on the University of Arizona’s website defines one AUM as “the amount of forage required by an animal unit (AU) for one month, or the tenure of one AU for a one-month period.”

Nichols said, “Some changes will literally take an act of Congress.” He added, “We need a diverse group to make this happen.”

Baron replied that these changes would not require an act of Congress, but rather an act of the citizens.

“We’re going to throw open the gates,” he said. “If we have to, we’ll have a standoff…What we’re going to do is with cows and grass on real land with real people in Harney County. I think that’s the only way that things are going to happen here.”

Harney County Judge Steve Grasty replied, “If you get there, I won’t be there,” explaining that, if it comes to violence or a standoff, the court will not support it.

Addressing Baron, Nichols said, “I hear you. And, again, I don’t disagree with anything other than an out and out confrontation.”

Nichols then reiterated the importance of collaboration.

However, Baron replied that working with some of these environmentalist groups would be like befriending “the guy that’s beaten you up and stolen your lunch money.”

Harney County Commissioner Pete Runnels said communities have been giving to special concerns since the spotted owl, and it’s time for these groups to start giving back. However, he reiterated that it will be a slow process.

Baron asked, “Do we have 10 years to fiddle around with this?”

Barbara Kull, who attended the meeting as a member of the public, agreed that action should be taken quickly.

Nichols said the court is willing to stand up, but it will do so respectfully and collaboratively.

Baron said his group would like to have a discussion with the BLM before anything is planned.

Grasty asked that the proposed grazing board form a mission statement and a list of standards. He explained that, if the board is diplomatic and collaborative, the court may be able to support it.

Grasty also asked the group to invite the court to its meetings.

“Let us know when the meetings are,” Grasty said. “We will attend if we are invited and try to put realism on the table.”

Grasty also noted that EOARC researchers should not be put in the middle of a conflict.


The court also discussed the United States Forest Service (USFS) Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision, which will impact the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests (collectively referred to as the Blue Mountains National Forests).

During a public meeting held March 18, Steve Beverlin, acting forest supervisor on the Malheur National Forest, explained that the National Forest Management Act of 1976 requires forest plans to be revised every 10 to 15 years. However, he said plans for the Blue Mountains National Forests haven’t been revised since 1990.

Numerous meetings have been held since 2004 to discuss the proposed revision, and public scoping began in March 2010. The USFS used comments gathered during that time to develop the Blue Mountains National Forests Proposed Revised Land Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (RLMP/DEIS). The RLMP/DEIS offered six alternatives, ranging from A to F, for revising the plan.

However, during its Aug. 6 meeting, the court agreed to sign Resolution 2014-10, rejecting all of the alternatives presented in the RLMP/DEIS.

The resolution states that, “The Harney County Court finds all alternatives to be unfounded and requests that the Forest Service step back and reassess the conditions on the ground and develop a range of alternatives that address the on the ground conditions focusing on the need to improve and protect the forests; to secure favorable conditions of water flows; and to furnish a continuous supply of timber.”

Grasty said the resolution basically states that, although the USFS has been working on the revision for 10 years, they should throw it away and start over. He added that nothing in the RLMP/DEIS benefits Harney County and said he believes most Eastern Oregon counties will sign similar resolutions.


The court resumed its discussion concerning a map of roads within the county.

A public hearing to discuss the map was opened during the previous county court meeting (held July 16).

After a great deal of discussion, the court agreed to leave the hearing open and continue accepting public comments concerning the map’s disclaimer, as well as requests to add or remove roads.

During the Aug. 6 meeting, Grasty recognized that additional written comments were submitted by Allen and Stephanie Farnsworth, as well as Barbara Cannady.

The court agreed to leave the hearing open until Oct. 15 and make a decision Nov. 5.

Grasty also suggested that the court set aside time during the afternoon of the next county court meeting (to be held Thursday, Aug. 21) to discuss the map and review any testimony received up to that point.


In other business, the court:

• met with Kathleen Johnson, executive director of Coalition of Local Health Officials, to discuss national accreditation for the Harney County Health Department;

• was addressed by Herb Vloedman who expressed concern about economic development in Harney County;

• was addressed by Cannady who said she was notified by CenturyLink that the company is discontinuing dial-up Internet service Aug. 15. Cannady said she will have to find an alternate provider, likely satellite, which will be much more expensive.

“That’s a huge issue,” Grasty said. “I’d love to follow up on that with you, if you want;”

• discussed ongoing efforts to replace the 4-H/FFA grandstands at the Harney County Fairgrounds with Karen Moon of the 4-H livestock committee. Moon requested that the court fund the cost of building permits for the new grandstands. Nichols moved to cover the costs in the amount of $1,375, Runnels seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously;

• recognized a resolution from the board of directors of the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center, which officially donates the center’s building addition to Harney County;

• ratified Resolution 2014-09 in the matter of requesting an emergency declaration for Harney County, which was deemed necessary in light of the situation with the Buzzard Complex wildfire;

• agreed that Runnels should pursue membership on the Community in Action board;

• received notice of a signal replacement and upgrades project on Highway 20/395 in Burns. The project will replace existing signals at the intersection of Hilander and Oregon avenues (near the high school) and the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Monroe Street. Construction is expected to take place between June 1 and Oct. 31, 2015;

• agreed to sign an order of sale of county property that has been acquired by Harney County by foreclosure of delinquent tax liens, exchange, devise, or gift;

• discussed Oregon Department of Forestry fire patrol costs. The court will send a letter of inquiry concerning the increase in these costs.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting of the county court will be held Thursday, Aug. 21, at 11 a.m. in Judge Grasty’s office at the courthouse.

Gifft receives 2014 NAEE award

Posted on August 13th in News

CUHS teacher selected as 2014 ‘Outstanding Young Member’

Bibiana Gifft, agricultural educator at Crane Union High School, has been selected as the 2014 Oregon winner of the Outstanding Young Member award given by the National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE).

Outstanding Young Member award winners are agricultural educators who have been teaching for no more than six years and who have demonstrated significant progress toward establishing a successful agricultural education program. Applicants are judged on a variety of criteria, including teaching philosophy, effective classroom and experiential instruction, development of partnerships, and professional growth.

The Outstanding Young Member award was created to encourage early career agriculture teachers to both remain in the profession and become active members in their professional association. If selected as the Region 1 Outstanding Young Member award winner, Gifft will be recognized at the 2014 NAAE convention.

The NAAE Outstanding Young Member award program is sponsored by John Deere as a special project of the National FFA Foundation.

NAAE is the professional organization in the United States for agricultural educators. It provides its nearly 8,000 members with professional networking and development opportunities, professional liability coverage, and extensive awards and recognition programs. The mission of NAAE is “professionals providing agricultural education for the global community through visionary leadership, advocacy and service.” The NAAE headquarters are in Lexington, Ky.

Wednesday August 13

Posted on August 13th in Community Calendar

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

The city of Burns Public Safety Committee meets the second Wednesday of each month at 3 p.m. at the Burns Fire Hall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday August 14

Posted on August 13th in Community Calendar

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

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

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

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

Friday August 15

Posted on August 13th in Community Calendar

CAN Cancer Horseshoe Tournament Friday, Aug. 15, at 6:30 p.m. Join Harney District Hospital for a fun evening horseshoe tournament at Big Bear Lodge! All proceeds split 50/50 between CAN Cancer and the winner! For more information, contact Harney District Hospital’s Kristen Gregg, 541-573-8614.

Oregon Old Time Fiddlers, District 9, meets the first, third and fourth Friday of each month. Call Micky at 541-573-2515 for time and place.

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

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

Saturday August 16

Posted on August 13th in Community Calendar

Free Brook Trout Fishing Derby at High Lake (in Strawberry Mountain Wilderness), Saturday, Aug. 16. Youth and adult divisions. Registration is limited. Pre-register to Burns Paiute Tribe fish biologist Kris Crowley at 573-8083 or

Harney CASA and the Kids Club of Harney County will be holding a fundraising golf scramble Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Valley Golf Club. The event will also feature an auction and pulled pork dinner. To register as a team, stop by the Kids Club and pick up a registration form.

The 3rd annual Thunder Ride Poker Run will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, to benefit a local charity. Sign in at the Central Pastime. The run is open to everyone 21 years of age or older.

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

Sunday August 17

Posted on August 13th in Community Calendar

A free community dinner, eat in or take out (no strings attached), will be held from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, at Burns Christian  Church, 125 S. Buena Vista in Burns. Call 541-573-2216.

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

Monday August 18

Posted on August 13th in Community Calendar

The Burns Lions Club meets every Monday at noon at the Burns Elks Lodge. Those interested in serving the community are welcome.

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

Burns Fire Dept. meets each Monday at the Burns Fire Hall at 7 p.m.

The Hines Volunteer Fire Department meets at the Hines Fire Hall each Monday at 7 p.m. (except the last Monday of the month). Prospective members may contact Fire Chief Bob Spence at 541-573-7477 or 541-573-2251.

Narcotics Anonymous meets each Monday at 10 a.m. in the community room at Saginaw Village, 605 N. Saginaw. For more information call 541-589-4405.


Tuesday August 19

Posted on August 13th in Community Calendar

The American Legion Harney County Post #63 meets at 63 W. “C” Street the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

Harney County Watershed Council meets the third Tuesday of each month at the EOARC (Section 5) on Hwy. 205 in the conference room at 5:30 p.m.

Sylvia Rebekah Lodge meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at the I.O.O.F. Hall, 348 N. Broadway, at 6:30 p.m.

Harney County Preppers, a group to help people get going and stay going in their preparedness, meets the third Tuesday of the month every other month in the courthouse basement meeting room from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Harney Basin Writers meets each Tuesday from noon until 4 p.m. in room 302 of the former Lincoln School, corner of A Street and Court Ave. in Burns. Elevator on the south side. Quiet writing time until 2 p.m., then readings begin. Adults of any writing style are welcome to attend.

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

Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance Program (SHIBA) trained volunteers will be at the Harney County Senior Center each Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call the senior center at 541-573-6024.

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


Pickup crashes near Willow Flat

Posted on August 6th in News

Vehicle engulfed in flames

Harney County Sheriff Dave Glerup reported that on Wednesday, July 30, at approximately 6:23 p.m., the sheriff’s office responded to a single-vehicle crash on U.S. Forest Service 47 Road, milemarker 10, near Willow Flat.

The sheriff’s office and Oregon State Police responded and found the 2002 Ford F350 pickup engulfed in flames. The driver of the vehicle was identified as Richard Burton Willeford, 57, of Hines.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the Harney County Sheriff’s Office, with the assistance of Oregon State Police.

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