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Judge invalidates Public Forest Commission

By Sean Hart

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on September 14, 2016 11:19AM

Public Forest Commission candidate Sam Palmer, right, speaks at a candidate forum in April before the May primary election as other commission candidates listen. The Public Forest Commission candidates will not appear on the November ballot, however, after judge nullified the measure that created the commission Sept. 14.

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Public Forest Commission candidate Sam Palmer, right, speaks at a candidate forum in April before the May primary election as other commission candidates listen. The Public Forest Commission candidates will not appear on the November ballot, however, after judge nullified the measure that created the commission Sept. 14.

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Grant County voters will not see Public Forest Commission candidates on the November ballot after a judge nullified the measure that created it.

Grant County Circuit Court Judge William D. Cramer Jr. ruled today that the measure creating the commission that was approved by county voters in 2002 “conflicts with paramount law in both the State of Oregon and federally” in a brief opinion letter to the county, which defended the measure, and Mark Webb, who challenged it.

Cramer stated the measure was improper and granted a summary judgment nullifying it. He said he intends to prepare a more detailed opinion explaining the decision but offered the abbreviated opinion to advise Grant County Clerk Brenda Percy, who is preparing the ballots for the upcoming election.

Measure 12-39, which was adopted by a majority of county voters through the initiative process, established a seven-person commission “with the responsibility of managing all public lands and natural resources within Grant County.” The measure authorized the commission to divide public land into ranger districts and to purchase, sell and trade public land with voter approval.

Webb argued in his petition for judicial review that the measure conflicted with state law by authorizing the commission to manage land currently managed by state agencies, such as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. He argued it conflicted with federal law by authorizing the commission to manage Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land.



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