LONG CREEK - The North Fork John Day Watershed Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, at Long Creek School to continue a discussion concerning a request for a conservation easement on the Middle Fork John Day River at Big Creek and Hawkins Creek.

Other action, according to an agenda from the council, will include: election of officers for 2003, by-law changes, and discussion on an advisory group convened by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation to assist management planning for the Forrest and Oxbow ranches.

At the council's Dec. 17 meeting, the Nature Conservancy and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation presented a proposal for an easement, which could prevent subdivision and provide the tribes and the Nature Conservancy with the right to preserve and restore 1,699 acres of wildlife habitat and 3.9 miles of riparian area.

The negotiations were initiated by the landowners. If the easement were approved, the properties would remain on the tax rolls, with the landowners responsible for all taxes, according to Jeff Fields, manager of the Dunstan Homestead Preserve for the Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy and the tribes are applying for an Oregon Water Enhancement Board grant to help fund purchase of the easement. The grant proposal will be presented at the Jan. 21 meeting, where they are seeking council endorsement.

Other discussion at the last meeting included the following:

• North/Middle Fork weed control project, weed treatment contracts, developing a list of priority weeds. Grant County Weed Control may be able to hire an employee to work with the council to control weeds in the northern part of the county.

• The council discussed the Bureau of Reclamation's environmental analysis for restoration in the John Day Basin and was preparing a response.

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