It’s not too often that a Lake County Commissioner and a Congressman get together, especially on top of Bald Butte Lookout.
However, on Monday, Oct. 29, this was the case as State Rep. Dan Shoun and Congressman Greg Walden were accompanied by Forest Supervisor for the Fremont-Winema National Forest Barry Imler and journeyed to the top of the lookout to talk about land management and observe the remains of the fires surrounding the area.
This was the first instance of Walden observing the land, although he and Shoun had talked about the possibility for years.
“We’ve been good friends for many years and his people reached out about wanting a half a day to go out,” said Shoun. “It was something he really wanted to do.”
Shoun pointed out in 360 degree fashion all of the scorned areas below from the Watson Creek Fire and over to the Winter Rim Fire.
Like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, being there is more impactful than the pictures and means more than words. Walden was thousands of feet in the air taking in his surroundings and the moment.
The group then traveled around the area, observing the chipping away of roads, underutilization of range allotments and lacking of signage.
“Federal rules for the parameters becomes a huge fuel bed when these range allotments are overgrown and ranchers have to move their cattle out in advance,” said Shoun.
Once a fire begins and if it catches these areas, spreading becomes more aggressive. These lands are dealt with federally and this is where Walden’s voice would come into play. There are number one priorities at the federal, state and local levels. For Walden, a lot on his plate makes these meetings integral in discussing an issue and finding a solution. Although the solution may not be coming for years, the experience caused a stirring in Walden’s head.
During a dinner later in the week, Walden spoke with Commissioner-elect Mark Albertson saying that he wanted to take the photographs to the top, to Washington D.C. and President Donald Trump’s desk.
A lofty expectation for Lake County, but a strike to be had if capitalized on.
Although it may be years away, this is the progress Lake County needs regarding land management and Walden could be at the helm for change.