Grant County passes measure allowing cutting timber without permission.

By JOSEPH B.  FRAZIER The Associated Press
5/22/02 5:44 PM

Grant County voters overwhelmingly passed a measure allowing cutting of
dangerous or fire-prone trees on federal land without permission, setting
up a potential showdown with forest officials.

The measure passed 1,512 to 745 Tuesday despite cautions that county law
does not override federal regulations, which prohibit people from freely
cutting trees on their own.

Herb Brusman, who helped write the measure, said Wednesday it would reduce
the threat of wildfire by letting residents thin trees, remove trees in
danger of falling onto roads and provide income to loggers and mills.

He said his group would meet with county officials.

"If they go along with us, all well and good and the same goes for the
Forest Service," he said.  "Whatever happens, we are still going to do it."

The measure recalls the "Sagebrush Rebellions" of the 1980s in which
counties in some Western states claimed control of federal land within
their borders.

More than 60 percent of the Connecticut-sized county of 7,500, economically
depressed by reductions in logging, is publicly owned.

Sawmills still operating do so on reduced shifts because of log shortages.
The eastern Oregon county's unemployment rate -- 13.5 percent -- is the
second-highest in the state, and people are moving away.

The measure passed on Tuesday is an expression of residents' frustration.

It reads that residents may "participate in stewardship of natural
resources on public lands within the County when those resources or the use
of those resources become detrimental to the health, welfare or safety of
the people."

The measure would help area loggers, log haulers and mills, Brusman said.

"Instead of the county paying for a faller to go in, we are going to do it
free.  The difference is we are going to harvest the tree, take it to a
mill and the profits will be divided," he said.

Jennifer Harris, spokeswoman for the Malheur National Forest, much of which
lies within the county, said she understood Brusman and his backers will be
presenting a plan "and we will be a part of that discussion."

"We understand the frustration the folks in the community have," said Rex
Holloway, a spokesman for the U.S.  Forest Service in Portland.

"We have restoration work that we have been working with the community on
and will continue to work with them on."

He said there also is thinning work.  "It has taken a little longer than we
wanted but we feel we are beginning to make some progress," he said.

The projects will produce jobs and could involve logging, Holloway said.

The county also passed 1,326 to 959 a measure banning United Nations action
in the county.

The measure asserted U.N.  activity would subject the county to the
confiscation of weapons, a one-world education, confiscation of private
property, a one-world pantheistic religion, a world tax and subjugation to
world courts.

Brusman admitted that the U.N Charter does not call for all those things.

"But there is a lot on their agenda," he said.

"We don't want the U.N to come in here and step on us as a county and a
state.  It's a communist organization as far as we're concerned," he said.

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