To the Editor:
For nearly a year the Forest Service has stalled on the request to hold a public meeting with those who use firewood in Grant County.
The County Court, Chamber of Commerce and Grant County Public Forest Commission have all endorsed a public meeting because of an outcry from citizens over the firewood restrictions and consequent citations that are issued to federal court in Pendleton. If letters to the editor are any indication, people in the county are generally fed up with the restrictions in the “terms and conditions” of the firewood permit.
After meeting with District Ranger Dave Halemeier and airing views that represented seven other senior citizens, six of them veterans, I was optimistic that the ranger had the authority to issue “permission” in writing that we could use an ATV and a method of loading firewood. I did not ask to be on a road, trail or area closed to their use. But Malheur Forest Deputy Supervisor Steve Beverlin comes up with this excuse to justify a refusal on something we did not ask!
Also it was reported the decision was based on “without hearing specifications on the kind of equipment that would be used.” Just great! He won’t meet with us to learn what reasonable method we want to use, but can deny that he is discriminating against us because he is going to treat everyone alike.
Doug Gochnour, the previous forest supervisor, said that ATVs could go 100 yards off road because that is about as far as most people camp from the roads. If we can go that far to camp using an ATV, then why can’t we bring firewood back to the road using one? On the one hand we’re told we can do something ,but a Forest Service cop will write a ticket because the firewood permit says anything besides a chainsaw, a chainsaw winch or bumper mounted winch is prohibited.
The only way this mess can be cleared up is a public meeting. The Forest Service knows full well the problems they have created and solutions need to be sorted out. It is obvious that the Forest Service and Deputy Supervisor Beverlin are incapable of making reasonable changes without input from the citizens of Grant County. We demand that the Forest Service meet with the public and quickly! If the Forest Service fails to cooperate, we will communicate the problems to higher authorities, congressmen, publications and talk shows for starters. That’s a promise!