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Prineville makes more sense for Forest Service

We agree that government should be downsized, but we don't see moving the Ochoco National Forest Service offices to Deschutes County as the best answer. If we're going to talk about really combining government management land agencies to save money, let’s look one step farther. Rather than moving Forest Service to Deschutes County a better idea would be to combine the offices of the Deschutes National Forest, the Ochoco National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management and any other Federal Government agencies that manage government lands into one agency. As one entity, all overlapping jurisdictions, redundant service departments and duplicated efforts could be combined in one super lands agency. Personnel could be consolidated with one boss and fewer workers. The new agency should be centrally located. If you look at a map showing the jurisdictions of the three current agencies, the absolute center is Prineville, and what a perfect place that would be for the new super lands agency. Prineville already has two almost new buildings, which coincidently already house the Ochoco National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management. To make space for the new workers from the Deschutes National Forest a state of the art campus style facility could be added next to the current buildings. With lower land prices it should be much cheaper to build in Prineville. As for the dedicated employees of the new group, those already living in Prineville would stay put, and those currently in Deschutes county have the option of commuting, or they can sell their homes in Bend and Redmond at a big profit and invest in the best housing bargains in central Oregon, which coincidently are in Prineville. Okay, the idea of a super lands agency would have to come from the President and Congress, but the idea makes sense here and across the country. Unfortunately just the opposite action is about to take place. Two weeks ago the Forest Service announced that Bend, Redmond and Prineville were all being considered as the site of the consolidation of the Ochoco and Deschutes Forest offices. Last week a forest service news release said, "After a discussion with community leaders in the three cities and employees of the two forests, Prineville is no longer being considered as a future Headquarters location." Strangely, Crook County Judge Scott Cooper was the only Prineville representative at that meeting which included principals of several development interests in Redmond and Bend and key decision makers from the Forest Service. In our estimation that was not a fair representation from the community most affected: Prineville. The entire process smells like another attempt to pull a fast one on Prineville. We think it's time the Forest Service and our elected officials hear our side. It's time for us to tell them that "we’re mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more." Please write, phone, e-mail or fax the following people. Tell them you want to keep the Ochoco Forest Service office in Prineville. These letters will have a special impact if those of you who will be directly affected write them. If you work for the Forest Service, or if you are in any way affected please write. All other letters are important too, so please write now. To save time, if you'd like a letter ready to go, log on to the Central Oregonian web site www.centraloregonian.com and click on "Opinion". At the end of the above editorial will be a letter ready to download into your e-mail, fax or letter. FOREST SERVICE Leslie Weldon, Forest Supervisor Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests 1645 Highway 20 East Bend, OR 97701 Phone:541 383-5300 Fax: 541-383-5531 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT President George W. Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Phone: 202-456-1414 Comment line: 202-456-6213 Fax: 202-456-2461 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden(D) 516 Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510 Phone 202 224-5244 Fax: 202 228-2717 email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R) 404 Russell Senate Office Building Washington D.C. 20510 Phone: 202-224-3753 Fax: 202-228-3997 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Dist. 2) 1404 Longworth Building Washington, D.C. 20515. Phone: 202-225-6730 Fax: 202-225-5774 email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (simply copy the following letter, address it to the official and print it for mailing, or email) Dear __________: As a citizen of Crook County, Oregon, I am very concerned about the U.S. Forest Service plan to move the Ochoco National Forest offices from Prineville to Deschutes County. The Ochoco National Forest and Prineville go back to the early 1900’s with its centrally located office serving the four ranger districts and 848,000 acres of public lands. As small, rural economically disadvantaged community, which has had to endure sizeable job loses in the timber industry, we don’t have the luxury of being able to loose even 50 jobs, which would happen under the latest Forest Service proposal. Combining the two National Forests, the Ochoco and the Deschutes, is probably, a good idea, economically speaking. However, overlooking both the benefit of locating the headquarters for this combined operation anywhere but Prineville would take away from that financial benefit. Additionally, beyond the loss of jobs represented by the people who work in the Ochoco National Forest office would strike a near disasterous blow to the local economy. Another negative factor is the loss of Forest Service personnel, many of whom have been valuable participants as volunteers on a number of community boards and commissions. The fact that the decision to pull the office from Prineville, without any public imput from those concerned, makes me believe that the decision was entirely political. I understand the need to consolidate government services to try to save money, but I believe that might be more easily accomplished by moving the entire organization to Prineville and taking advantage of existing facilities and more favorable land values. Before the decision is finalized, I strongly encourage everyone involved to take into account the concerns that residents of Prineville and Crook County have and to give the decision makers an opportunity to be hear those concerns. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,