We can say this much for the Oregon Natural
Resources Council: at least the litigation-happy
group didn't sue to try to force the government to
use private lands to settle tribal land issues. Yet.
The ONRC contributed its four bits on the subject
Wednesday. We'd say "two bits," except issues
involving the ONRC tend to get expensive when the
legal fees are figured in.
The organization jumped into the negotiations
between the Klamath Tribes and the federal
government about the possibility of turning over to
the tribes ownership of national forest lands that
were once part of the Klamath Reservation. The
reservation was terminated by the federal government
in 1954, and payments were made to tribal members.
The reservation then became the Winema National
Forest and part of the Fremont National Forest.
The Klamath Tribes were re-recognized in 1986 and
have been trying to get land for a reservation.
The ONRC said that no public lands should be used to
re-establish the reservation. Instead, it favors
buying up or condemning private lands that were
within the 1954 reservation boundaries - about
470,000 acres - and using that for a reservation.
Homes and up to 40 acres of adjoining lands would be
The ONRC said that it was against using national
forest land to re-establish the reservation because
it believes the best way to protect land is keep it
in public ownership.
Forcing people to sell their land - at least in a
case like this - is unfair and poor public policy.
Whatever agreement is made with the Klamath Tribes
should come from the publicly owned lands.
Whether the reservation should be re-established at
all is an unsettled issue.
The Tribes are expected to make public their
proposed plan for use of forest lands within a few
weeks and that may shed more light on things.
Efforts to convert any lands - public or private -
to re-establish the reservation are going to
conflict-ridden and difficult. We can reduce the
issues involved by ending the talk of using private
The federal government should tell the ONRC thanks,
but no thanks.
The "H&N view" represents the opinion of the
newspaper's editorial board, which consists of
Publisher John Walker, Editor Tim Fought, City
Editor Todd Kepple and Opinion Editor Pat Bushey.
Most of the editorials are written by Bushey.
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