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History supports USFS decision

To the editor: I have been following the Forest Service brouhaha with great interest, and as a central Oregon historian of sorts, feel that Judge Scott Cooper seems to be on the right track when he was quoted in an Aug. 9 article, as follows: “The Ochoco National Forest was created by an act of Congress and can’t be undone by regional decision”. The person, or persons, who made the decision to consolidate in Bend seem to have conveniently forgotten that in 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt signed a proclamation establishing the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve, the father of the Ochoco National Forest. Responsibility for the implementation of this act was given to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, then later to the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service who established headquarter offices in Prineville. Allen G. Hodgson, then Deputy Forest Supervisor, in his a History of the Ochoco National Forest, written in September 1913, points out the permanent establishment of the reserve was approved directly by the Secretary of the Interior. Originally, the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve (the name “Reserve” later to be changed to “Forest”) included land in the following counties: Umatilla, Union, Baker, Grant, Malheur, Harney, Wheeler and Crook. (Keep in mind Jefferson County and Deschutes County did not exist at that time, being part of Crook County until 1914 and 1916 respectively.) In 1907, a new proclamation was issued from Washington D.C., establishing the Strawberry Reserve with a headquarters office in John Day. This proclamation put both Grant and Malheur counties under a separate jurisdiction. The Maury Mountain Reserve was consolidated with the Blue Mountain Reserve to become the Blue Mountain (West) National Forest. Bear with me. On July 1, 1908, again by proclamation, and as reported by Allen Hodgson, “All that area on or around the Paulina Mountains and all of the territory east of the Deschutes River (including the Fremont National Forest) ...” was placed under the administration of the Prineville office. Hodgson went on to state “These portions of the Forest were added to the area known as the Blue Mountain (W) National Forest.” This proclamation greatly enlarged the size of the Prineville headquarters. After the establishment of a District Office in 1908 in Portland, by Gifford Pinchot, boundaries of the Deschutes Forest were again changed by proclamation on May 20, 1910. On June 30, 1911, a new proclamation was issued that established the Ochoco National Forest with a temporary boundary at Emigrant Creek. The temporary boundary was made permanent by still another proclamation of June 30, 1911. By now, I guess you have the picture. The bottom line seems to be that we are missing a proclamation, or edict, from a real source of authority before the Ochoco and Deschutes National Forest can be combined into one district. Instead we have the personal wishes of Leslie Weldon, a local Forest Supervisor, who, as I understand, made this decision on her own. If she has the authority to issue such a proclamation, so be it. But does she? I doubt it. As Judge Cooper stated, this is not a decision that can, or should, be made at the regional level. Martel Scroggin Prineville