More than 800 wild horses were recently rounded up in southeast Oregon by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as part of a sterilization project to control their population.
The BLM conducted the wild horse gather from Oct. 2 through Oct. 23, during which time the agency rounded up 846 horses, 41 burros and two mules, leaving roughly 20-30 horses in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area, said Tara Thissell, public affairs specialist for the agency.
“We are overpopulated on the range for sure,” Thissell said.
The agency plans to return 200 horses to the range, with the ovaries removed from half the female population and the other half being left intact as a control group, she said. A portion of the mares and stallions will be outfitted with tracking collars.
The two populations that will be returned to the range are part of the “behavioral and spatial ecology portion of the study,” which will also sterilize additional mares that will remain in captivity so the rate of medical complications can be analyzed, Thissell said.
Thissell noted the project is supported by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, which wants to see whether ovary removal from wild mares is a “viable population management tool.”
Wild horses are controversial on the range, as ranchers often blame them for causing environmental damage that’s blamed on livestock or that justifies grazing curtailments.
Before the roundup was even finished, however, the BLM’s project was challenged in federal court by the Friends of Animals, a nonprofit advocacy group based in New York that calls it an “unethical and ill-informed experiment.”
The plaintiff complains that separating the two study populations with a fence will create a “zoo-like herd management area” without first conducting sufficient analysis and public participation as required under the National Environmental Policy Act and the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
Friends of Animals notes that testing conducted between 2001 and 2010 found genetic diversity in the herd had declined and claims that BLM doesn’t plan to conduct additional environmental assessments each time it conducts roundups as part of the 10-year management project contrary to NEPA.
Removing ovaries is characterized in the complaint as a “dangerous surgery” that will leave mares “highly traumatized” and will adversely affect their health over the long term.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the sterilization experiment and 10-year management plan for the wild horses as well as reimbursement for the plaintiff’s litigation costs.
Growing up in Bend, Ore., Shea Booster was such an outgoing kid he earned himself the nickname “motormouth.”
“I was never shy,” Booster said. “Every time I met someone new, I just loved to talk to them.”
That personality is part of what led Booster to join FFA as a freshman at Mountain View High School, and later serving as Oregon FFA state president in 2016-17. On Oct. 27, Booster was one of six leaders elected to the National FFA Officer team during the organization’s annual convention in Indianapolis, as the western region vice president.
Over the next year, Booster, 21, will spend more than 300 days traveling across the country, flying 100,000 miles and talking to local FFA chapters, farmers and legislators, spreading the good word about agriculture education. He couldn’t ask for a more perfect role.
“I’m super excited,” Booster said. “It still hasn’t really sank in yet.”
Booster is not your traditional FFA student. He was not raised on a farm or ranch. He didn’t spend summers milking cows or driving combine. But that is the beauty of FFA, he said — since 1988, when the “Future Farmers of America” officially changed its name to the National FFA Organization, it has strived to become an all-accepting youth leadership and development group, with chapters in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities.
Today, the National FFA Organization has nearly 670,000 members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“The FFA has been a highly diversifying and inclusive organization,” Booster said. “It has always made that a priority.”
Back in high school, Booster said FFA was the one place where he felt he could truly be himself. He took immediately to the organization, and made it a personal rule of thumb to try a new career development event every year.
“I was the agriculture rookie,” he said. “Any time I had the opportunity to try something new, I would.”
Booster graduated from high school in 2016, and is now a sophomore at Oregon State University majoring in agricultural business management, with a double minor in communications and Spanish. He will return to campus from Indianapolis on Nov. 1 and wrap up classes by Thanksgiving before heading back out with the National FFA Officer team on Nov. 24.
The 2018-19 officers also include Luke O’Leary, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., who was elected national president — the highest rank of any FFA officer. O’Leary previously served as California FFA president in 2017-18, and is now studying agriculture leadership and development at Texas A&M University.
Rounding out the team is Layni LeBlanc, an animal science-science and technology major at Louisiana State University, who was elected national secretary; Adrian Schunk, a communications major at Michigan State University, who was elected eastern region vice president; Ridge Hughbanks, an agribusiness major at Oklahoma State University, who was elected central region vice president; and Jordan Stowe, agriscience education major at Auburn University, who was elected southern region vice president.
Booster said he is eager to see how FFA is continuing to develop students’ confidence and leadership skills, as it did for him.
“FFA truly focuses on developing students,” he said. “Being a part of FFA, you get to see youth that is just supremely confident.”
Nine Oregon farms and ranches will receive financial assistance from the USDA to build small-scale solar power and hydroelectric projects, saving a combined $100,000 per year on their utility bills.
Funding comes from the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides grants and loans for renewable energy, such as wind, solar, hydro and geothermal installations, as well as energy efficiency improvements like insulation and replacing old farm equipment.
The national program recently awarded $427,739 in Oregon for nine projects from Roseburg to Enterprise that will generate a total of 901,160 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy each year. That’s enough juice to power roughly 80 homes.
John Holman, energy programs coordinator for USDA Rural Development in Oregon, said the Rural Energy for America Program is broken down into two funding streams — grants, which cover up to 25 percent of the total cost for smaller projects, and loan guarantees for larger, utility-scale projects covering up to 75 percent of the total cost.
Since the program was first authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, Holman said the agency has awarded grants in Oregon for 136 projects totaling more than $3.5 million, and loan guarantees for 27 projects topping $165.5 million. Collectively, these projects are expected to produce more than 3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.
“The main purpose of rural development is economic development for our rural communities,” Holman said. “(This program) is helping businesses and agricultural producers to save energy.”
While the 2018 Farm Bill remains in limbo, Holman said he anticipates the program will continue to receive funding, but cannot speak directly to its future. Small businesses are eligible to apply so long as the are located in rural areas — that excludes Portland, Salem, Eugene, Bend and Medford. Any farm or ranch is eligible to apply regardless of location.
The latest round of projects includes:
• Triple Creek Ranch, Joseph — $108,625 award for an 85-kilowatt hydro turbine that will replace 95 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $18,381 per year.
• Greater Northwest Nursery, Silverton — $98,779 award for a 250-kilowatt solar array that will replace 64 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $27,089 per year.
• Hanna Limited Partnership, Roseburg — $60,923 award for a 94-kilowatt solar array that will replace 14 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $9,827 per year.
• Chapin Dehydrating, Salem — $60,082 award for a 507-kilowatt solar array that will replace 104 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $16,114 per year.
• Alpine Solar, Enterprise — $49,896 award for a 125-kilowatt solar array that will replace 66 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $11,405 per year.
• Taylor Farm, Silverton — $20,000 award for a 78-kilowatt solar array that will replace 97 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $10,788 per year.
• Myrtle Creek Farm, Myrtle Creek — $10,937 award for a 7-kilowatt solar array that will replace 97 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $6,576 per year.
• Persephone Farm, Lebanon — $9,342 award for a 7-kilowatt solar array that will replace 91 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $1,059 per year.
• Groundswell Farm, Langolis — $9,155 award for a 10-kilowatt solar array that will replace 99 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $1,147 per year.
The next application deadline is April 1, 2019. For more information, contact Holman at 503-414-3369 or email email@example.com.
FORT KLAMATH, Ore. — The number of cattle believed killed in the Fort Klamath area by the Rogue Wolfpack now totals four.
Officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who over the weekend confirmed the killings of three yearlings found over a three-day period last week, are awaiting confirmation of a fourth animal found dead Friday morning. The first three yearling calves were found Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings on Wood River Valley ranchlands owned by Bill Nicholson and leased to DeTar Livestock of Dixon, Calif. The fourth was discovered Friday on neighboring land owned by Roger Nicholson, Bill Nicholson’s cousin.
Bill Nicholson said ODFW personnel are taking turns camping in a field where they are using non-lethal methods, including large bonfires, strobe lights and the firing of cracker shells, to try to deter wolves. One camper reported hearing howling and distressed bawling about 1:30 a.m. Friday, but no noise has been reported the past few nights.
“Everything is quiet now,” Nicholson said Monday.
Two remote cameras are being used to help track possible movement and five traps have been set in hopes of capturing and collaring wolves with tracking devices. Efforts at tracking wolf movements have been frustrated because none of the Rogue Pack wolves, including OR-7, have operating collars. Nicholson said the number of wolves in the valley is uncertain because one camera picked up six, including OR-7, while five were seen by another camera in a nearby field at about the same time. OR-7 has a collar but it is no longer transmitting signals.
In 2016, when four grazing cattle were attacked and eaten alive by wolves, ODFW and other game biologists also stayed overnight in an effort to deter wolf predation. At the time, one wolf had an operating collar that helped track the pack’s movements.
On Saturday, when ODFW biologists visited the Nicholson ranch, it was determined one steer had been attacked and was bleeding when it was dragged 500 feet to a ditch, where it died of its wounds.
Until last week it was believed the Rogue Pack was on the west side of the Cascades. In September it was determined a large dog guarding cattle near Prospect had been killed by a wolf. Before the recent killing, the last confirmed cattle attacks by the Rogue Pack were in January, when two calves were killed two days apart near Butte Falls.
Based on the ODFW findings posted on its website, a dead 600-pound calf, carcass A, that was found Wednesday was intact but open at the abdomen with evidence of feeding on the right flank. Examinations of two other dead calves from the same pasture, which had been buried but were unearthed, determined that wolves fed on the flank of carcass B, which was found Tuesday, while a third, carcass C, had been mostly consumed and probably died Monday.
Physical evidence indicated a “struggle/kill scene” for carcasses A and C, which included blood spray, and pooled blood.
“There was a trail of blood and rumen for 50 feet ending at carcass A. Carcass A was skinned and partially shaved, revealing numerous quarter-inch wide bite scrapes on both armpits, the hind legs above the hock, flanks and the groin. Deep underlying tissue damage with associated premortem hemorrhaging was evident under the bite wounds,” according to the report. “Calves B and C were skinned, revealing premortem tissue trauma on the hind legs between the hock and anus, and behind the elbows. These injuries are clear evidence of predator attack and the size, location, and severity of bite injuries are similar to injuries observed on other calves attacked by wolves.”
Remote camera photographs showed Rogue Pack wolves 2.5 miles from the pasture on (Tuesday), according to the report. “The Rogue Pack has depredated on this property before. Since the evidence shows that each calf died on a different night, these are considered three separate incidents of depredation.”
Details of are available at the ODF&W Wolves and Livestock Updates website at http://dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/wolf_livestock_updates.asp.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $1.5 million to the campaign against a ballot measure in Oregon that would ban any future taxes on grocery revenue and items sold in supermarkets.
The Oregonian/OregonLive said Monday that Bloomberg has not commented publicly on his donation, which was disclosed Friday. The donation was first reported by Portland’s weekly newspaper, Willamette Week.
As New York City mayor, Bloomberg unsuccessfully tried to ban super-sized sodas.
He also spent $5 million in 2017 to support a proposed soda tax in Chicago.
Oregon’s measure proposes a state constitutional amendment to prohibit new taxes on grocers and most groceries, including food and soda.
Taxes would still be allowed on alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.
DENVER (AP) — A federal trial in Colorado could have far-reaching effects on the United States’ budding marijuana industry if a jury sides with a couple who say having a cannabis business as a neighbor hurts their property’s value.
The trial set to begin Monday in Denver is the first time a jury will consider a lawsuit using federal anti-racketeering law to target cannabis companies. But the marijuana industry has closely watched the case since 2015, when attorneys with a Washington, D.C.-based firm first filed their sweeping complaint on behalf of Hope and Michael Reilly.
One of the couple’s lawyers, Brian Barnes, said they bought the southern Colorado land for its views of Pikes Peak and have since built a house on the rural property. They also hike and ride horses there.
But they claim “pungent, foul odors” from a neighboring indoor marijuana grow have hurt the property’s value and their ability to use and enjoy it.
“That’s just not right,” Barnes said. “It’s not right to have people in violation of federal law injuring others.”
An attorney for the business targeted by the suit plans to argue the couple’s property has not been damaged, relying in part on the county’s tax valuations of the Reillys’ land ticking up over time.
Vulnerability to similar lawsuits is among the many risks facing marijuana businesses licensed by states but still violating federal law. Suits using the same strategy have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon.
Mirroring the Reilly complaint, several claim the smell of marijuana damages neighboring owners’ ability to enjoy their land or harms their property value.
The question now is whether jurors accept the argument.
“They can claim a $1 million drop in property value, but if a jury does not agree and says $5,000, that’s not that big of a deal,” said Rob Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who specializes in drug law. “That’s why there are a lot of eyes on the case.”
Congress created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — better known as RICO — to target the Mafia in the 1970s, allowing prosecutors to argue leaders of a criminal enterprise should pay a price along with lower-level defendants.
But the anti-racketeering law also allows private parties to file lawsuits claiming their business or property has been damaged by a criminal enterprise. Those who prove it can be financially compensated for damages times three, plus attorneys’ expenses.
Starting in 2015, opponents of the marijuana industry decided to use the strategy against companies producing or selling marijuana products, along with investors, insurers, state regulators and other players. Cannabis companies immediately saw the danger of high legal fees or court-ordered payouts.
That concern only grew when a Denver-based federal appeals court ruled in 2017 that the Reillys could use anti-racketeering law to sue the licensed cannabis grower neighboring their property. Insurance companies and other entities originally named in the Reillys’ suit have gradually been removed, some after reaching financial settlements out of court.
The case focuses on property in Pueblo County, where local officials saw marijuana as an opportunity to boost an area left behind by the steel industry. Most Colorado counties ban outdoor grows, forcing pot cultivators to find expensive warehouse space.
Pueblo officials positioned their sunny, flat plains as the alternative. They created financial incentives in hopes of drawing growers to outdoor fields or cavernous buildings left vacant by other industries.
Parker Walton was among the early comers, buying 40 acres in the rural town of Rye in 2014.
Barnes said the Reillys made three separate land purchases between 2011 and 2014, gradually reaching more than 100 acres. They learned about plans for the marijuana business bordering their final purchase four months after completing the sale, he said.
Walton put up a 5,000-square-foot building to grow and harvest marijuana plants indoors. The Reillys filed their lawsuit in early 2015. A year later, Walton announced the company’s first harvest via Instagram, snapping a photo of a strain dubbed “Purple Trainwreck” hanging to cure in a dim room.
Fewer than five people including Walton work for the company, which sells its products to retail stores, his attorney, Matthew Buck said.
Buck said he’s confident jurors will decide the Reillys’ property has not been harmed. Buck warned, though, that defending against a similar lawsuit comes at a high cost for marijuana businesses while plaintiffs with support from a large law firm have little to lose.
Cooper & Kirk, the firm handling the couple’s suit, has a conservative reputation, including a founding partner who worked for the U.S. Justice Department during the Reagan administration. Barnes said members of the firm were “troubled” as states began legalizing the adult use of marijuana because of the inherent conflict with federal law, and they brainstormed legal strategies.
Walton created a website this month to raise money for his defense. He wrote that a loss could jeopardize “all legal cannabis operations in all states.”
But some lawyers who have defended companies in similar lawsuits said those fears are overhyped.
Adam Wolf, a California attorney, said he believes the suits are primarily intended to scare third-party companies into cutting ties with marijuana firms or persuading cannabis companies to shut down. But long-term, Wolf said the U.S. Supreme Court has curtailed lawsuits making civil racketeering claims against other industries.
Courts could apply the same logic to cannabis, he argued.
“What the plaintiffs seemed to be saying is anybody who touched, in any matter, any marijuana business is potentially liable,” Wolf said. “And that is a soundly rejected argument by the courts.”
Barnes, though, said the number of racketeering lawsuits awaiting action suggests attorneys with no ties to his firm believe in the strategy.
LA GRANDE, Ore. — Just one month into his new position as regional forester for the Pacific Northwest Region, Glenn Casamassa is directing his attention to the widely contested Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision, a guiding document for three Eastern Oregon national forests covering 5.5 million acres.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., introduced Casamassa on Oct. 25, just one month into his new position with the U.S. Forest Service, to members of the Eastern Oregon Counties Association and ranchers concerned about key provisions in the forest plan. They said they believe the plan calls for too little timber harvest and unnecessary increases in grazing restrictions.
“I have concerns about people feeling like they were listened to, especially on issues regarding timber harvest levels,” Walden said.
The Eastern Oregon Counties Association members prepared a seven-point, one-page summary of their objections to the plan and presented it to Casamassa.
Susan Roberts, Eastern Oregon Counties Association chairman, said, “What we put together represents how we feel our forests should be managed.”
The association listed concerns about the Forest Service being able to meet timber harvest levels, asked for the the removal of the 21-inch diameter restriction and requested that the plan expedite work on the forests, especially post-fire salvage logging. The association objected to any further wilderness designations and the inclusion of wildlife guidelines and standards for elk and wolves and grazing guidelines that did not go through a proper public process.
Casamassa, formerly the forest supervisor for Colorado’s Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest based in Fort Collins, said he was aware that the Blue Mountains plan would be a top priority in his new position as regional forester for Oregon and Washington. The plan includes the Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur national forests, which encompass an area about the size of New Jersey.
“One of the first things when I knew when I was coming out here this (Blue Mountain Plan) was front and center in the region and had been deliberated longer than a decade, longer than it should last,” Casamassa said. “It would be advantageous for all of us to get it to the finish line.”
Toward the end of November, Casamassa said a group of Forest Service staff from the Washington, D.C., office will be holding community meetings across the Blue Mountain region.
“In these communities, resolutions will occur not by letters, not by phone, it will be in community. This is something I wanted to make sure of,” Casamassa said.
He said the resolution process will be deliberative, asking staff to see what adjustments can be made.
Sitting down with county and regional leaders at the Union County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in La Grande gave Casamassa a chance to listen in more detail to frustrations with the Blue Mountain Plan.
Timber harvest and mills provide jobs for Oregon’s rural, forested counties, but diminished harvest has greatly reduced the timber-based economic engine, ultimately reducing school and county road funding. Money designated to Eastern Oregon counties through the Secure Rural Schools Act offsets some of the loss of timber receipts on which local governments once relied to pay for roads and schools. Grant County Judge Scott Myers told Casamassa he’d like to see a more stable funding source for his county, which is 63 percent federally managed land.
“It’s so undependable, we never know if it’s going to be there or not,” Myers said. “With 900 miles of county roads we would like to have some more regularity of revenue that we can count on.”
Casamassa said he was thankful for the act’s reauthorization for one more year.
“I know it was a heavy lift for Congress to get that through and I am aware and understand how important those receipts are to the counties,” Casamassa said. “It may seem like small amounts of money to some, for others it is the difference between having a sheriff’s deputy or search and rescue.”
Matt McElligott, the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association’s public lands chairman, told Casamassa the plan overemphasizes the condition of a public grazing pasture’s riparian area as opposed to its overall condition.
“For some reason we find riparian trumps everything — it doesn’t matter what the rest of it looks like,” McElligott said.
The plan’s record of decision, now in the objection period, added 300-foot buffers along streams that McElligott said makes it harder to meet standards and guidelines.
“Even fish biologists say we don’t have the science behind those numbers and they shouldn’t be used in planning,” McElligott said.
Todd Nash, a rancher and Wallowa County Board of Commissioners chairman, said grazing on public land is in jeopardy with the overall number of permittees reduced from 9,000 to 6,000.
“Wallowa County was hit really hard by decisions that closed or vacated allotments and in areas where we do graze we live with the threat of being run out,” Nash said.
Shea Booster, an agricultural business management major at Oregon State University, was elected western region vice president at the National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis during the weekend.
Booster, a graduate of Mountain View High School in Bend, was previously the 2016-17 Oregon FFA president.
Each year at the national convention, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as national officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary, and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern, and western regions of the country, according to a national FFA organization press release.
Luke O’Leary, an agricultural leadership and development major at Texas A&M University, was elected national president.
Layni LeBlanc, an animal science-science and technology major at Louisiana State University, was elected national secretary.
Adrian Schunk, a communications major at Michigan State University, was elected eastern region vice president.
Ridge Hughbanks, an agribusiness major at Oklahoma State University, was elected central region vice president.
Jordan Stowe, an agriscience education major at Auburn University, was elected southern region vice president.
National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each officer travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public, and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training conferences for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 669,989 student members who belong to one of 8,630 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 459,514 alumni members in 2,236 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.
FORT KLAMATH, Ore. — A trio of cattle deaths in the Fort Klamath area earlier this week are being blamed on the Rogue Wolfpack.
The carcasses of three yearling heifers were found Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings by Butch Wampler, who oversees cattle grazing on Wood River Valley ranch lands owned by Bill Nicholson and leased to DeTar Livestock of Dixon, Calif. The remains have been sent for examination before an official determination is made.
Following the discovery of the first heifer Monday morning, Nicholson said the carcass was too badly eaten to determine how it died. A second dead heifer was found Tuesday morning. Both had been buried but were unearthed following the discovery of a third heifer Wednesday that, according to Nicholson, showed traits consistent with a wolf kill. After the dead heifer that was discovered Tuesday was unburied and skinned, it was determined it also had been eaten by wolves, pending the autopsy.
After finding the third dead heifer, Nicholson contacted Tom Collum, the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Klamath Falls district biologist. Video cameras showed six gray wolves from the Rogue Pack, including OR-7, which is collared but no longer transmitting signals, in the Fort Klamath area.
Collum spent Wednesday night camped in a field near the grazing cattle. Other biologists are scheduled to take turns in the field the next several night in efforts to deter the wolfpack. In 2016, when four grazing cattle were attacked and eaten alive by wolves, Collum and others took turns staying overnight using non-lethal methods — massive bonfires, honking horns, beaming strobe lights and firing cracker shells, which travel about 100 yards before exploding — as part of an effort to deter wolf predation.
“We didn’t know the Rogue Pack was back in this area,” Collum said Wednesday, noting they had been seen on the Jackson County side of the Cascades. Last month it was determined a large dog guarding cattle near Prospect had been killed by a wolf. The last confirmed cattle attack by the Rogue Pack was in January, when two calves were killed two days apart near Butte Falls.
Emphasizing that no final determination has been made on the deaths of the three Fort Klamath area heifers, Collum described the kills discovered Tuesday and Wednesday as “textbook.” The carcass of the heifer discovered Monday may be too destroyed to make a determination. He said tracking is difficult because none of Rogue Pack wolves have operating monitors.
Each summer upwards of 35,000 cattle graze on Wood River Valley pastures. Most have been trucked to pastures in the Redding-Cottonwood area of northern California. The relatively small numbers of remaining cattle will be shipped out within the coming month. Nicholson noted all three of the dead cattle are heifers, year-old cows weighing 550 to 650 pounds that have not produced calves. On neighboring fields with mother cows and calves, he said there have not been any known wolf attacks.
“I think maybe the cows protect the calves,” Nicholson speculated.
Noting the same trend, Collum said, “They’ve not protected the same way (as calves with cows). The wolves seem to know that.”
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by an Oregon county that targeted the state over legalized marijuana.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane signed a formal order dismissing Josephine County’s lawsuit earlier this week, saying a city or county doesn’t have standing to sue a state in federal court, The Daily Courier reported Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed in April and contended that federal law banning marijuana pre-empts Oregon’s law legalizing marijuana for commercial sales.
County legal counsel Wally Hicks says he and the county Board of Commissioners accept the ruling. He told the newspaper that county leaders have not yet discussed whether to appeal.
The lawsuit was the latest battle between Josephine County and the state over pot. After commercial marijuana grows became legal in Oregon in 2016, the county tried retroactively to place limits on them by banning pot grows in areas zoned rural residential.
Marijuana growers appealed and the state’s Land Use Board of Appeals ultimately froze the county’s regulations, saying it hadn’t provided proper notice of its new rule. That set the stage for the federal lawsuit.
The judge found that the state hadn’t “substantively” prevented the county from enacting its own local rules.
The county in southwest Oregon just is miles from the California border, in an excellent region for growing marijuana, and has struggled with a boom in marijuana grows since state legalization.
The county Board of Commissioners recently unveiled a new attempt at restrictions on marijuana farming in rural residential zones. The new proposal would allow legal commercial farms to continue but ban new ones.
A hearing has been set for Nov. 7 on the latest proposal.
To satisfy the notification requirement, the county added flyers to property tax bills that were sent out earlier this month.
SEATTLE (AP) Weyerhaeuser Co. (WY) on Friday reported third-quarter net income of $255 million.
The Seattle-based company said it had net income of 34 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for pretax gains, were 28 cents per share.
The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 39 cents per share.
The timber and paper products company posted revenue of $1.91 billion in the period.
Weyerhaeuser shares have dropped 18 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has increased 1 percent. The stock has declined 17 percent in the last 12 months.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A new court filing says FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita and several colleagues on the bureau’s elite Hostage Rescue Team are under investigation for alleged “lack of candor” in their statements after the shooting of refuge occupation leader Robert “LaVoy” Finicum.
The agents are the subject of an ongoing administrative investigation and review by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, federal prosecutors said in the document filed Wednesday, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Astarita was among FBI agents and state police trying to arrest leaders of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as they drove on a remote highway to a community meeting in Jan. 26, 2016.
Prosecutors had alleged that Astarita covered up that he fired at Finicum’s truck after it swerved into a snowbank at a police roadblock. They also alleged Astarita and his colleagues picked up and removed shell casings from the shooting scene.
In August, a jury acquitted Astarita of all federal charges.
While Justice Department officials have said the agents would be investigated for alleged misconduct, the legal brief that prosecutors wrote mentions for the first time that the inquiry regards alleged lack of candor.
Prosecutors made the notation in their legal response to a motion by Astarita’s lawyers about whether certain documents from the Astarita trial should remain under the court’s protective order.
At trial, the government prosecutors played for jurors the FBI’s aerial infrared video that they said captured Hostage Rescue Team agents scouring the scene that night for evidence, bending down and looking under trucks and appearing to pick things up.
Each federal agent testified they were conducting searches for remnants of flash-bang grenades or for lost gear. They also testified that they didn’t hear gunfire come from Astarita and didn’t see him fire any shots that day.
Astarita said he had never fired his gun on duty and didn’t know the type of ammunition he loaded into his rifle Jan. 26.
With Astarita’s acquittal, exactly who fired twice after Finicum stepped from his truck with his hands in the air and shouted, “Go ahead and shoot me,” remains unclear.
Two state police SWAT officers then shot and killed Finicum after he walked away from his truck and was seen reaching into his jacket pocket where police said he had a loaded pistol. The fatal shooting was ruled justified by the Deschutes County district attorney.
Investigators recovered only two shell casings of eight shots fired.
Finicum’s family has a pending wrongful death lawsuit against the FBI, Oregon State Police, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and others.
Oregon farm regulators are contemplating reducing the “exclusion zone” for growing canola in Oregon’s Willamette Valley by more than half from an earlier proposal.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has floated the idea of establishing a new 889,000-acre exclusion zone for the crop, down from the 1.96 million acres proposed five years ago.
Canola is controversial in the region, as some farmers see it as a potentially valuable rotation crop while others fear it will cross-pollinate with other Brassica species grown for specialty seed.
After ODA proposed relaxing restrictions on canola in 2013, the resulting dispute that erupted wound up before Oregon lawmakers, who imposed a 500-acre cap on its production until 2019.
During an Oct. 25 meeting in Salem, Ore., agency officials proposed a map of the significantly reduced exclusion zone to representatives of specialty seed producers, canola growers and other interested parties.
Jim Johnson, ODA’s land use specialist, explained that he designed the map by studying where specialty seeds and canola have been grown and overlaying that data with information about soil quality and available irrigation water.
Specialty seeds are typically grown in higher-quality soils and require irrigation, while canola can be grown as a dryland crop that would compete with grass seed.
“Canola can go places specialty seed can’t,” Johnson said.
In some cases, topographical features like the Chehalem Mountains will serve as a natural barrier between canola and other Brassica species, he said.
The revised exclusion zone also doesn’t include the Portland metropolitan area and forestland, where neither canola nor specialty seeds are likely to be grown, Johnson said.
Shrinking the exclusion zone was also motivated by an Oregon State University study that concluded canola doesn’t pose a greater pest or disease risk than other Brassica crops, said Alexis Taylor, the agency’s director.
“It has gotten smaller based on the additional information we have now,” Taylor said.
At this point, the exclusion zone is just a concept that ODA is exploring and it may be paired with other tools, such as buffers and isolation distances, she said.
Though it’s called an exclusion zone, canola wouldn’t necessarily be entirely prohibited within its boundaries — ODA could allow the crop to be grown within the zone under more stringent rules.
Under its existing authority, ODA can regulate canola and other Brassicas to reduce pest and disease risk, but the agency may ask for additional legal authority when it presents a report to Oregon lawmakers that’s due in mid-November, Taylor said.
The agency’s goal is to allow a new industry — canola production — into the Willamette Valley while limiting and managing the associated risks, she said.
The Willamette Valley Specialty Seed Association, which is concerned about the impacts of canola, would like to extend a “non-voting affiliate membership” to canola growers, said Greg Loberg, public relations chairman for the organization and manager of the West Coast Beet Seed Co.
That way, canola farmers could participate in WVSSA’s “pinning map,” which identifies where certain species are grown to prevent cross-pollination, he said.
Canola growers would be non-voting because they’d likely outnumber specialty seed growers and effectively take control of the association, he said.
The Willamette Valley Oilseed Producers Association, which supports easing canola restrictions, favors canola farmers using the WVSSA pinning map within ODA’s proposed exclusion zone, said Anna Scharf, the association’s president.
Outside the exclusion zone, however, the pinning map for canola and other Brassicas should be managed publicly by ODA and possibly OSU, with rules developed through an administrative process, Scharf said.
Oregonians for Food and Shelter, an agribusiness group, would be amendable to an exclusion zone based on pest and disease risk, but not one that would favor specialty seeds over other crops for market-based reasons, said Scott Dahlman, the group’s policy director.
“We don’t think the department should be in a position of picking winners and losers,” he said.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The bankruptcy trustee for Oregon’s troubled Lost Valley Farm will shut down the dairy and put it up for sale next year.
The Statesman Journal reports trustee Randy Sugarman announced the plan Wednesday for the dairy, which has been out of compliance with its wastewater permit since it opened in Boardman in April 2017.
In a status report to the court, Sugarman says the dairy needs to invest $35 million to $40 million to meet its pollution permit requirements.
Owner Greg te Velde declared bankruptcy in April to stave off a previously planned auction of cows as part of a bank foreclosure.
Sugarman asked the court last week to approve selling the cows at public auction.
Te Velde says he hadn’t heard about the decision to close the dairy.
State farm regulators earlier this month issued a record fine of more than $187,000 to the dairy, citing more than 220 violations of its wastewater permit between last December and late August.
In addition to Lost Valley Farm, two dairies in California — GJ te Velde Ranch in Tipton, and Pacific Rim Dairy in Corcoran — are involved in the bankruptcy proceedings. The dairies have a combined total of 53,382 cattle.
Capital Press staff added to this story.
The Chuck Eggert family, which last year sold Tualatin, Ore.-based Pacific Foods to Campbell Soup Co. for a reported $700 million, has purchased Willamette Valley Cheese Co. of Salem in a move that will take the cheese company organic and considerably increase its production volume.
Charlie Eggert, farm manager for the Eggert family’s four dairies, said the purchase “seemed like a good partnership for us with our dairies and the kinds of things we are trying to do to create jobs in the Willamette Valley.”
“We are just interested in keeping good things around and we’ve always had a lot of respect for Willamette Valley Cheese and the products they create,” he said.
Under terms of the sale, Willamette Valley Cheese Co.’s Rod Volbeda will stay on as facilities manager and cheese maker at the Salem location.
“The idea of staying the same and doing what we’ve always done and then transitioning to organic just made me get excited again,” Volbeda said.
“It was getting hard going by myself,” he said when asked why he sold. “The debt load I had was getting up there, and I’m at the age where I need to slow down a little bit.”
Volbeda, 53, said the company will continue producing its line of award-winning cheeses, including Creamy Havarti, Eola Jack, Fontina, Gouda and Cheddar, and will continue operating its tasting room just west of Salem at 8105 Wallace Road NW.
He declined to give a dollar amount of the sale, but said he was satisfied with the terms. “They gave me a very good job to run this facility and their plan is to build more small cheese operations, and I’m hoping to be involved in that.”
Willamette Valley Cheese Co.’s volume is expected to increase five-fold under the new ownership, he said, from its current 10,000 pounds a week to 50,000 pounds once the transition is complete.
“It is still going to be single-herd milk supply,” he said. “It is just the cows will not be on this facility, so we will not be farmstead.”
Willamette Valley Cheese Co. sold the last of its cows two months ago and has been purchasing milk from Darigold since. That arrangement will stay in place for the near future, according to Eggert.
“We haven’t made the transition yet (to supplying the cheese company’s milk),” Eggert said. “We are working on the details and going through the process with Oregon Tilth on what it is going to take to turn organic and use our milk.
“We don’t have any plans right now as far as when the changeover will take place, but that will ultimately be our goal,” he said. “It is a complicated process and we have never made organic cheese, so we are going to learn as we go.”
The Eggert family operates two organic dairies in the Wilsonville area, one in the Albany area and one near McMinnville. It sells most of its milk to Organic Valley.
Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau for nearly 20 years, has a new job: Oregon state executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency.
Bushue, who started Oct. 9, replaced Acting State Executive Director Wes Jennings. Prior to Jennings, Phil Ward served as executive director from 2014 to 2016.
“Bushue is a proven leader and advocate for agriculture and natural resources in Oregon with over 25 years of experience in the industry,” the agency wrote in an Oct. 11 release announcing the appointment.
Bushue earlier retired as president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, a position he held for just under two decades.
He said he accepted the FSA position in part because of his respect for the work of the agency.
“I’ve always been a big believer in the USDA,” he said. “And I’ve been impressed with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“This was an ideal opportunity for me to work for Oregon agriculture and an agency that I felt has been very strong in its advocacy for agriculture,” he said.
At FSA, Bushue said he hopes to increase awareness of the many loan programs the agency offers through its county offices, including direct operating loans, microloans for small and beginning or non-traditional farmers, direct farm ownership loans and emergency loans.
“I think the programs are useful, they are valuable, they are important, they provide critical safety nets for folks,” Bushue said.
Among other features, FSA loans are designed to help family farmers and ranchers start, improve or expand existing operations, add value to farm products and get young people involved in farming, according to the FSA website.
Leaving the Oregon Farm Bureau’s presidency wasn’t easy, Bushue said. “When you spend that much time with an organization and with the people that supported you, sure it is hard to leave. But that also opened up opportunities for change there that may not have happened as early as if I hadn’t made the decision, and it opened up Farm Bureau for some new, young and exciting leadership.
“There are a lot of young, bright folks at the Farm Bureau that have all the capabilities and more than I had,” he said. “It was a smart time for me to go.”
In addition to serving as Oregon Farm Bureau president, Bushue served as vice president of the American Farm Bureau for eight years, ending in 2016.
The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be cut from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District on Friday, Nov. 2.
Two public events will be hosted by Sweet Home Ranger District so Oregonians can both see and celebrate the cutting, part of the ongoing U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree campaign.
Fifty people who register at capitolchristmastree2018.eventbrite.com will be able to attend the tree cutting event. Willamette officials said the number of public attendees is limited by the size of the area surrounding the tree and the need to accommodate tree-lifting cranes and a large truck.
The event will include brief remarks by the Forest Service employees, local officials and partners. Attendees will be shuttled to the site, which is about an hour from Sweet Home on rural forest roads.
The tree cutting will take place between 11:15 a.m. and noon. The tree will be cut with a saw donated by Husqvarna and the tree-lifting crane and supporting equipment provided by Papé and Axis Crane. Attendees will be shuttled back and should return to River Bend County Park by 1:30 p.m. There will be tents and bathroom facilities, but people should be prepared for inclement weather, including rain or snow. For full event details, participant requirements and online registration, visit capitolchristmastree2018.eventbrite.com.
A second celebratory event will be at River Bend County Park at 1:30 p.m. A video of the tree cutting will be broadcast on a giant screen and light refreshments will be provided. The event is open to the public and registration is not required. In attendance will be the “tree team” comprised of Forest Service officials, partners and sponsors.
“We are thrilled to be able to share this exciting part of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree’ s journey with our fellow Oregonians” said Nikki Swanson, Sweet Home District Ranger. “The people of Oregon have been instrumental to the success of this project. From the kindness of our cooperators to everyone who helped make ornaments and tree skirts, Oregonians have come together to send this beautiful Noble Fir and over 10,000 ornaments as a gift from the state of Oregon to the U.S. Capitol and all Americans,”
After the tree is cut, it will go to Sweet Home where it will be prepared for the eastward journey on a Kenworth W990 truck. It will leave Sweet Home on Friday, Nov. 9, for its 3,000-mile road trip through Oregon and across the country to Washington, D.C.
The theme for the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is “Find Your Trail!” in recognition of two 2018 anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act and the 175th commemoration of the Oregon Trail.
The tree will leave Oregon following the reverse path along the Oregon Trail following stops in Albany, Springfield, McKenzie Bridge, Oakridge, Bend, Detroit, Salem, Oregon City, The Dalles, and Baker City. A series of festive events will be hosted by communities along the way. A complete schedule and list of special events is available at www.capitolchristmastree.com.
The trip to Washington, D.C., is made possible by large and small companies and volunteers locally and across America, including Papé, KGW8, Kenworth Truck Company, Central Oregon Truck Company, SkyBitz, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Hale Trailer, VanDoI Adventure Vans, Alaska Airlines, Husqvarna, Meritor, Pilot Flying J, Truckload Carriers Association, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, Axis Crane, Eaton, Great West Casualty Company, the National Forest Foundation and the City of Sweet Home.
The U.S. Forest Service has provided the Capitol Christmas Tree every year since 1970. In January 2018, the U.S. Forest Service announced that the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree would come from Oregon’s Willamette National Forest. The 80-foot noble fir tree was selected by a representative of the Architect of the Capitol in August. It’s the first time in the program’s 47-year history that a noble fir has been a U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree.
The tree will be displayed on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., with a public tree-lighting ceremony in early December. The last time Oregon was chosen to provide the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was in 2002, when a tree was selected from the Umpqua National Forest.
Seventy smaller companion trees will also be sent to Washington, D.C. from the Willamette to decorate government buildings and public spaces. Oregonians have contributed 10,000 handmade ornaments.
CHILOQUIN, Ore. — It isn’t that Bill Boyd isn’t friendly, it’s just that he often finds himself being more comfortable around man’s best friends.
“I’d rather be around them than people,” Boyd says of spending time with working cattle dogs. “They’re amazing.”
Making good dogs even more amazing is what the 78-year-old Boyd does in his semi-retirement. During his many years working on and managing ranches, he learned the value of working cattle dogs. “It took me a couple years to get educated,” he says of training dogs, mostly border collies.
His education with working dogs and training them spans a career that’s included stops at ranches in California, Arizona, Texas and, since moving near Chiloquin 16 years ago, Oregon. Before the move, he spent nine years as cow boss for the San Emigdio Cattle Co. near Bakersfield. The 100,000-acre cattle ranch ran upwards of 1,500 cows and 12,000 yearlings, mostly Beefmaster, a breed known for being heat- and insect-resistant, because in Southern California “you needed something that would travel.”
Working with cattle and dogs came naturally. Raised near Bishop, Calif., he drops his hand below his waist as he tells, “I’ve always wanted to be around animals since I was this high.”
Boyd earned degrees in animal husbandry and farm management at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, but his real-life education came while working on ranches.
“I didn’t understand dogs at that time,” he says. He gained that understanding while moving cattle, and by using the dogs to teach cattle to come to him. “If the cattle come to me,” he explains, “they don’t get bit.”
He’s also learned the dogs inevitably will “take a pounding. When you’re working cows and calves they’re going to get run over.”
His dog, Rusty, a 12-year-old border collie, has had his share of broken bones but he still jumps at the opportunity to work cattle or sheep.
“He had it in him and he’s not afraid of anything,” says Boyd, explaining he looks for characteristics he says are inbred in dogs that can be fine-tuned to work on ranches or perform in dog trials.
Rusty and Boyd’s other dogs are kept in individual kennels in a barn behind his house. It’s a wide-ranging group that includes Billy, only a couple months old, and 2-year-old Cinder, who Boyd has been training the past year and will be entered in competition and put up for sale at the Red Bluff Round-Up, a three-day rodeo in April. “She’ll make a good ranch dog.”
Working with dogs — some his own, many belonging to others — begins when they’re as young as 9 or 10 weeks old, first with sheep. “You can’t take dogs to cattle ’til they’re about a year old. If they have confidence, they can work them. It’s just bred into them.”
Some dogs are trained for dog trial competition while some owners want their dogs trained to be obedient or to work cattle.
Because of his background, Boyd says dog owners seek him out. “You’re legitimate,” he says of the reputation he earned by working with dogs on large ranches. “It’s an advantage because I’ve worked with wild cattle. ... I can train dogs real quick.”
He’s passed on his cattle- and dog-handling skills to his children. Two live nearby. His daughter, Jody Boyd, manages the Dixon Ranch in Fort Klamath while his son, Craig, who previously managed yearlings for the San Emigdio Cattle Co., works on the Buckhorn Ranch, which summers cattle in the Fort Klamath area. Two other daughters, Lora and Kristy, live in Bakersfield and Lake Tahoe.
Boyd and his wife, Nedra, live on their 80-acre ranch near Chiloquin. High school sweethearts, they married two years ago following the death five years ago of Merna, Boyd’s wife of 50 years, from Parkinson’s Disease. Nedra, also 78, has two sons and ranched for 22 years near Fruitland, Idaho.
Over the years, Boyd has been the headliner at Bill Boyd Stock Dog & Dog Trial Clinics on Horseback. Although his business, Bill Boyd Stock Dogs, slowed when he suffered back problems, he’s again training dogs, although he says he wants to slow down.
“I’m trying to retire,” he claims, but that hasn’t happened. Not yet. He’s still enjoying working with Rusty and his other best friends.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Researchers say active fault lines on Mount Hood could potentially trigger a 7.2 magnitude quake that could reach Portland.
KGW-TV reports the recently discovered fault lines to the north, south and southwest of Mount Hood extend to the Columbia River.
Ian Madin of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and Ashley Streig of Portland State University found the fault lines during an analysis with new imaging technology. The fault lines were verified through field research.
Streig says the quake would be a short crustal earthquake, and it “would be strong enough to knock you off your feet.”
Streig says the Portland area would likely see “strong ground motions and could suffer liquefaction damage along waterfront areas.”
The volume of timber cut from Northwest national forests is increasing due to collaborative planning and growing state involvement in logging projects, according to an Oregon forest supervisor.
For example, the Willamette National Forest — Oregon’s foremost timber producer and a regular top contender nationally — aims to generate 100 million board-feet in 2020, up from about 75 million to 80 million board-feet in 2018, said Tracy Beck, the forest’s supervisor.
Last year, 66 million board-feet were harvested from the forest, according to federal statistics.
Contrary to the common belief that federal logging projects are being tied up in litigation, lawsuits have only been a filed against a handful of the hundreds of projects in the area, Beck said at a recent timber industry tour in Corvallis, Ore.
“We’re winning most of those cases,” he said. “I really feel like collaboration has helped keep us out of court.”
Collaboratives are groups, such as nonprofits, that help steer the federal government’s thinking on logging and thinning projects and build agreement among the timber industry, environmental groups and others.
Another recent tool that’s expected to increase timber volume from national forests is the “good neighbor” authority granted by Congress in 2014 that allows state governments to carry out projects on federal land.
While such logging projects are still subject to federal environmental laws, states have more flexibility with contracting rules and are able to carry out projects more effectively, said Mike Cloughesy, forestry director of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, which organized the tour.
Federal contracting regulations are more complicated and have set wages for certain jobs — such as road crews — whereas state regulations allow for more cost-efficiency, he said.
Earlier this year, Oregon lawmakers approved $500,000 for the Oregon Department of Forestry to assist with the planning and implementation of projects under the “good neighbor” authority.
As ODF increases its capacity to manage such projects, the Willamette National Forest hopes to eventually reach about 120 million board-feet in timber volume, said Beck, the forest’s supervisor. The forest is estimated to produce about 1 billion board-feet a year in new timber.
At roughly 650 million board-feet of timber harvested in 2018, the Forest Service region that includes Oregon and Washington this year achieved its highest volume in two decades, he said.
“The future looks bright,” Beck said.
The OFRI tour, held on Oct. 19, included a visit to new mass timber buildings under construction on Oregon State University’s campus using cross laminated timber and mass plywood, which are pre-fabricated panels that allow for the efficient assembly of multi-story wooden structures.
The group of about 50 lawmakers, government officials and industry representatives also walked through long-term research plots at OSU’s McDonald-Dunn Forest that analyzed different harvest and reforestation methods.
The university harvests about 7 million to 9 million board-feet a year from 15,000 acres that include the McDonald-Dunn and surrounding forests, said Steve Fitzpatrick, director of research forests at OSU’s College of Forestry.
Managing the forestland presents unique challenges due to the high volume of tourists and the proximity to residential homes, which can lead to controversies and compromises over forest management, he said.
“You get the full range of emotions, from ‘Well, it’s your property’ to ‘I’m going to sue you,’” said Fitzpatrick.