- JOHN DAY, Oregon (AP) -- Residents of this eastern Oregon
ranch and timber region are a self-reliant lot. Hard winters and a depressed
economy have forged hardscrabble attitudes toward outsiders and "the
- Grant County voters passed two ballot measures last month
reflecting the frustration of residents who feel they no longer control
their lives, livelihoods or the land.
- By about a 2-to-1 margin, residents approved a measure
banning the United Nations in the county and another allowing people to
cut trees on federal land, whether or not the U.S. Forest Service approves.
- "We intend to push the limit, push the envelope
on this," said Dave Traylor, a stocky, bearded jack-of-all-trades
who helped write the measures.
- Home to about 7,500 people, Grant County is a place where
cowboy hats, hay farms and horse trailers are ubiquitous, where the high
school teams are the "Prospectors," and the two radio stations
play Christian or country music.
- The county covers an area about the size of Connecticut.
More than 60 percent of the land is managed by the federal government.
The jobless rate, 13.5 percent, is the second-highest in Oregon. Many people
have seen their logging livelihoods dribble away.
- Backers of the two ballot measures blame federal timber
policies and environmental restrictions that they say are keeping them
off public lands that had given them jobs as loggers, mill workers and
- Supporters hope to push the Forest Service into allowing
more logging. They say millions of board feet of timber could be salvaged
by allowing people to cut the big ponderosa pines and firs that are hazards.
- "If we could just address salvage on the dead, dying
and blowdown, we could provide a lot of trees to the mills," said
- Dennis Reynolds, who as Grant County judge serves as
its chief administrator, said the county government likely will endorse
a plan to allow residents to cut dead, dying and wind-damaged trees on
- "The question now is, what is the federal government
going to do?" he said. "These people are lashing out in the only
way they can. Now we have people willing to go to jail over this issue."
- Roger Williams, deputy supervisor of the Malheur National
Forest, which manages more than 1 million acres of forested land in the
county, hopes to avoid conflict.
- "We're looking into what we can do to relieve some
of the pressure that led these people to put this measure on the ballot,"
- It is the latest conflict to arise in the West with federal
- In San Bernardino County, Calif., ranchers chafing at
cattle grazing restrictions imposed to protect the threatened desert tortoise
were supported recently by Sheriff Gary Penrod, who canceled an agreement
that gave Bureau of Land Management officers authority to enforce state
laws on federal land.
- In the Klamath Basin, on the Oregon-California line,
farmers and others last year had tense confrontations with the Bureau of
Reclamation over its decision to give irrigation water to endangered fish
rather than farmers.
- Also last year, residents in northeast Nevada defied
the Forest Service by attempting to rebuild a washed-out stretch of road
in Elko County, work the Forest Service said would threaten the bull trout.
The confrontation lasted months.
- The second measure that passed in Grant County says the
United Nations wants to take away people's guns, seize private property,
control the education of children and establish "one world religion-Pantheism
(and) world taxation."
- Stacie Holmstrom, 35, a lifelong John Day resident, said
the measure is too radical.
- "I thought that was a real extreme idea," she
said. "Grant County sometimes has that stigma anyway -- that we're
'out there' -- and this is just going to add to that."
- But others in the county say they believe the allegations
made by the measure. Road signs proclaiming Grant County a "UN-free
zone" are going up.
- "The U.N. scares me. If anything ever got bad, we
could have foreigners here controlling us," said John Day painter
and muralist Patricia Ross, 55.
- Voters in La Terkin, Utah, next year will see a similar
anti-U.N. measure on the ballot. An anti-U.N. ordinance was approved in
July but repealed by a new Town Council. Organizers are hoping to revive
the measure on the 2003 ballot.
- William Luers, a former U.S. ambassador and now president
of the United Nations Association of the USA, said the anti-U.N. sentiment
- "The United Nations absolutely has no capacity,
resources or forces to take over anything in the world," Luers said.
- Bud Trowbridge, whose grandfather settled in John Day
in 1862, said he's ready to use force to protect his property from the
- "We're trying to avoid a fight. But we still got
our guns," he said.
- Copyright ¬© 2002, The Associated Press