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Court passes resolution to convey Goal 5 work plan

During its regular meeting on Dec. 7, the Harney County Court revisited its conversation concerning updating Goal 5.

Goal 5 is one of Oregon’s 19 Statewide Planning Goals, which express the state’s policies on land use and related topics. The goals are achieved through local comprehensive planning, but local plans must be consistent with statewide goals. Once a local government’s plan is acknowledged by the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC), it becomes the controlling document for land use in the area covered by that plan. The LCDC is the seven-member volunteer citizen board that guides the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Covering more than a dozen resources, Goal 5 and related Oregon Administrative Rules describe how cities and counties are to plan and zone land to conserve resources listed in the goal.

Stan Foster, a consultant for the Goal 5 update, said “This is the beginning of a future process to update and make some changes in our comprehensive plan here for Harney County that would reorient the plan with a focus on the human uses of the land.”

The Goal 5 update process began with a series of meetings held throughout Harney County to gather community input.

That input was compiled into the Harney County Goal 5 Road Map, and Resolution 2016-19 was drafted.

During the Dec. 7 meeting, Harney County Judge Steve Grasty requested that the term “road map” be replaced with “work plan” in both documents.

After a lengthy discussion, the court also agreed that language should be added to the newly renamed Harney County Goal 5 Work Plan.

Thus, Foster and Harney County Planning Director Brandon McMullen added the following statement to the work plan’s introduction:

“Limitations within the Oregon Administrative Rules governing resources fail to recognize forest use, timber, rangeland and water as vital natural resources to Harney County. This statement is intended to stress the importance of  addressing land use goals in an integrated manner, rather than as stand alone resources.”

The court then agreed to approve Resolution 2016-19 in the matter of conveying the work plan to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

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Christy Cheyne, Melissa Ward and Travis Swaim of the U.S. Forest Service attended the meeting to discuss the Flat Vegetation Management project, which will be located in the northern portion of the Emigrant Creek Ranger District and the southern portion of the Blue Mountain Ranger District in Harney and Grant counties.

Developed in cooperation with the Harney County Restoration Collaborative, the project proposes to treat almost 26,400 acres of vegetation with commercial and noncommercial treatments. Landscape-scale fuel treatments are also proposed across 46,728 acres. Forest road activities would include closing, decommissioning, and opening roads. Typical road maintenance activities designed to meet Malheur Forest Plan standards and guidelines would also be performed.

Public scoping began Dec. 7 and will end Jan. 6.

Cheyne said scoping is the best time for the public to comment because these comments can “really move the project in one way or the other.”

Individuals and entities who have submitted timely, specific written comments regarding a proposed project or activity during any designated opportunity for public comment may file an objection. Specific written comments should be within the scope of the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and must include supporting reasons for the responsible official to consider.

Grasty suggested that the court write a letter of support for the project, adding that he believes the court has discovered the correct wording to position itself to be part of the  process if anyone objects.

Scoping packages can be obtained from the Emigrant Creek District Office in Hines or the Malheur National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=47364.

Comments can be submitted to Lori Bailey at 265 Highway 20 South, Hines, OR 97738 or via phone at (541) 573-4300. Comments may also be emailed to: comments-pacificnorthwest-malheur-emigrantcreek@fs.fed.us.

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Harney County Emergency Management Coordinator Loren Emang attended the meeting to provide an update.

Emang discussed the Oregon Office of Emergency Management document concerning the solar eclipse that will occur August 21, 2017 from about 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

This will be the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years, and the path of totality (where the moon will block the view of the sun completely) stretches across Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Lincoln, Linn, Jefferson, Malheur, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Wheeler and Yamhill counties.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management estimates that increases in traffic and a strain on public safety services may occur as a result of increased  visitors.

Emang also discussed the Public Safety Interoperable Communications Assessment dated Oct. 13, 2016. The assessment was intended to help identify gaps in emergency radio systems, and each agency’s systems were analyzed.

Grasty requested that the assessment be added to the county’s website.

•••

The court received a letter from Harney County Fair Board Chair Kevin Pryse recommending fair board appointments. The court is responsible for making these appointments.

Grasty reported that Wayne Evans resigned from the fair board, leaving another vacancy to fill.

Anyone who is interested in serving on the fair board is encouraged to submit a letter to the court for consideration.

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In other business, the court:

• was addressed by Barbara Cannady regarding the availability of draft meeting minutes on the county’s website.

Grasty advised that only approved minutes are posted at this time;

• was addressed by John Thelen regarding the exploration of solar farms in Harney County.

Grasty replied that multiple solar promoters have met repeatedly with the Harney County Planning Department, but they have yet to submit any applications;

• presented the Harney County Employee Handbook to all of the department heads for review on Dec. 8. During the next county court meeting (Dec. 21), the court will approve the handbook for adoption on Jan. 1;

• will add the two historical documents that were recently discovered by Grasty to the Commissioners Journal.

One is a letter from Leon Thompson who was president of the Harney County Stockgrowers Association. Dated Dec. 30, 1964, the letter stresses the importance of Burns-Frenchglen Highway 205 to the cattle industry.

Dated April 14, 1960, the other document is the Structural Investigation and Report of the Harney County Courthouse;

• discussed the finalization of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Planning 2.0 Rule with Holly Orr of the Burns District of the BLM.

“It’s planning on a resource-based scale, rather than on a small scale,” Orr explained. “The theory is [that] the forest doesn’t shut off at the boundary of the administrative unit, the rangelands don’t, the migration of sage grouse doesn’t. That’s the thought process behind it.”

The final Planning 2.0 Rule can be accessed online at www.blm.gov/plan2;

• reviewed water use request;

• received the preliminary population estimate for July 1, 2016 from the Portland State University Population Research Center. The estimate for Harney County is 7,320 people;

• received correspondence from the Vale District of the BLM regarding emergency stabilization and rehabilitation actions planned for the burned area of the Cherry Road Fire;

• acknowledged National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The next regular meeting of the Harney County Court will be held Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 10 a.m. at the courthouse.

Samantha White

Samantha White was born and raised in Harney County, and she graduated from Burns High School in 2005. After high school, she attended the University of Oregon where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in magazine journalism. White was hired as a reporter for the Burns Times-Herald in September 2012.

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