Cooperation vs. Governmental Coercion

By Barbara Cannady


May 7th is marked as an historic day on my calendar. In the County Commissioner’s meeting, on the issue of proposed Sage Con restrictions, Commissioner Nichols proposed a Resolution that there would be no more Sage Grouse regulations affecting agriculture in Harney County.  The County would not give anymore.

Commissioner Runnels agreed and Commissioner Grasty made it unanimous.  Finally!!  They got to a point where they would say “NO MORE.”  That will be a Resolution worth celebrating.


Saying “NO” is the only option left to stop the continuous demands that diminish private property rights at an ever faster pace.  Our leadership has tried all sorts of committees in the name of “Collaboration!”  As everyone knows by now, Collaboration is our current national environmental buzz word.  A word which historically means “to invite the enemy.”  And, unfortunately, the process appears to live up to its definition.


The County Commissioners have moved forward to sign The Conservation Agreement with Assurances, which is another give by landowners.  Each landowner needs to decide for themselves.  At least landowners are allowed an option of whether or not they wish to participate. 


Options are not being considered with the County “Map” of public, private and permissive roads.  The Commissioners are taking the position that roads can be added but not removed, even if their lines are inaccurate or opposed by the legal owner.


The County will argue that they are protecting “us” from ONDA, and the possible wilderness designations in areas where there is more than 5,000 road-less acres.  Be Afraid!  In our case, they are inviting ONDA and all the other groups that want access to our property.  I am afraid!


The County will argue that they need these road designations on both public and private property to defend us against further Sage Grouse regulation.  Be Afraid!


The truth needs to be said out loud.  First, closing public lands and opening private lands has been a part of the liberal democratic agenda for over twenty years.  This is not new!   I have been in the road-less area Map discussions since they started two years ago.  Concerns about private property rights were expressed at that time.  We all knew that the finalization of a County Road “Map” would bring those conflicts to the surface again.  A request for an interim Resolution to approve “the Map” was not expected.  An alarm needed to be sounded.  I am sounding the alarm.  “The Map” is to be displayed in the foyer of the Court House so that the public can review.


Second, Harney County screwed up!  By failing to follow the legal processes for establishing roads…… we have a number of “county roads” that are not legal (the County does not own portions) but the public uses them every day.  By going back to maps of roads/trails that may have disappeared in grandfathers’ day, and claim historic use, the Commissioners hope to clean up “this mess”.  In other words, seize lands for public use without compensation.  You may recall, my driveway was practice for this process.    The governmental focus should be on seeking landowner cooperation, not coercion.   


Third, there are private landowners that want their roads identified within a County transportation network.   The County lost the window for cleanly dealing with the Meadowlands easements several years back.  Now the owner of the easements does not want any involvement.  It has been suggested that the landowners sue the Meadowlands Corporation with the expectation that they would win by default when the corporation does not appear.  Question:  Why cannot the District Attorney do this in the name of the landowners and resolve “this mess?”  There must be a reason.  Just asking.


Finally, there is a legitimate need to identify all forms of roads and accesses on public lands if they are to be accessible by the public (OWNERS).   Again, the governmental focus should be on seeking landowner cooperation, not coercion.