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Citizen group will work with Natural Resource Manager on local public lands issues

PHOTO COURTESY OF OCHOCO NATIONAL FOREST - The Natural Resource Committee is expected to discuss potential solutions to the laminated root rot problem in the Walton Lake area.

Crook County has approved its new 11-member natural resource citizen committee, and the group will meet for the first time on Monday.

The committee members were chosen by Natural Resource Manager Tim Deboodt following an applicant search that began this past August. He recommended the top applicants to the Crook County Court, which approved the group during its Nov. 8 meeting.

County leaders hired Tim Deboodt as natural resource policy coordinator this past April, and part of his job focuses on several areas critical to the county, such as responsible use of natural resources, access to public lands, economic implications for natural resources, and health and sustainability of public lands.

To that end, he was asked to form a citizen committee to help him achieve those and other objectives as well as partner with federal agencies and explore potential opportunities with state agencies.

The application asked for people to provide their education and any professional licenses, registrations and certifications, and applicants were prompted to provide relevant experience in federal land use planning, as well as any current or former affiliation with any boards or other organizations.

Committee applicants provided examples of past experiences that show the ability to work collaboratively with others, including people who have differing viewpoints, to achieve a good faith compromise.

"The primary criteria is that the applicant is a resident of Crook County, first and foremost, and that they have an interest in how the natural resources within the county — both private and public — are managed," Deboodt said in August. "We are looking for a diverse cross section of interests and expertise."

The County's Natural Resource Policy called for a nine-member committee, but once Deboodt began combing through the applications, he asked county leaders to bump the number to 11.

"He had several good applicants, and he felt that to get all of the interests heard from in the community, he needed 11," said Crook County Commissioner Jerry Brummer.

Members of the committee represent everything from the U.S. Forest Service and Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative to private ranching and timber, the local business community and Prineville City Council.

Brummer said the committee will elect its officers during the meeting before likely launching into a discussion on the Walton Lake laminated root rot issue.

"They are going to have discussion and input, and then this board will recommend to him what they feel is the best thing for the county to do on certain issues and how to proceed," he said.

In addition to tackling individual natural resource issues and projects, Brummer said that the County Court wants Deboodt and the committee to look into providing education on local natural resources in the local schools, particularly at the elementary school level.

"We don't have a lot of that on natural resources," he said.

Meanwhile, the group will develop relationships and work with the local Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management agencies on broader topics like forest management and the reduction of wildfires.

"This will be a good opportunity to go to the agencies, talk to them, and ask them what we can do to help," Brummer said.

Sidebar

The Crook County Natural Resource Citizen Committee will meet on Monday, Dec. 10 at 10:30 a.m. at the Crook County Open Campus building. The meeting is open to the public.

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