If this new bill passes, 4,700 river miles in Oregon will be included in the Wild and Scenic designation. It's considered a “remarkable achievement” by some, while others see a monster land grab, a back door to more lock up and lock out.

Increasing the buffer zone from a quarter to a half-mile on both sides of the rivers creates approximately 3,008,000 acres of de facto wilderness. Baker, Union, Wallowa and Grant counties will be saddled with 700 miles. Wallowa County alone (will have) 440 miles. Management plans will be developed by the U.S. Forest Service or another agency. Presently, the Forest Service is way over its head in managing the forest, so maybe the other agency that is referred to in the Feb. 13 article in the Baker City Herald, can take on the chore.

Unsettling, upsetting, disturbing — this is happening under the term democracy. How and when did we lose control to a room full of politicians in Washington D.C.? Have we become so complacent this is acceptable? Ignoring impacts and input at the local level has become standard operating procedure. Lack of coordination with the counties circumvents local input (coordination is the law). Failure to recognize local concerns was the primary factor in the Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision withdrawal. “Ditto,” trying it again.

No one cares more for our public lands and waterways than the residents of Eastern Oregon. Federal and state agencies use many tools to protect and preserve special places. Additional restrictions, outside those presently available are unwarranted.

I’m urging the Eastern Oregon Counties Association to join in and support Baker County’s opposition to The River Democracy Act.

D.M. and Wanda Ballard

Baker City

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