Mark Albertson

Albertson

Lake County Commissioner Mark Albertson is seeking a second term in the 2022 election to see through projects.

Albertson was elected in 2018 and was sworn in at the beginning of January 2019 with his fellow Commissioner James Williams. Albertson said that much of the first year was learning the ins and outs of what it means to be a Commissioner and understanding how to communicate the needs of Lake County to elected representatives in the Oregon Legislature and various organizations Lake County of which Lake County is a part.

“There are a variety of projects that I want to see through completion,” said Albertson when asked why he decided to run for another term.

He noted that there are a number of issues facing Lake County and he wants to be a voice of the people of the Lake County community especially when representing them at the state and federal level.

“There have been a number of issues that I have accomplished during my first term,” said Albertson. “This included working with Reschke and Findley in saving the Warner Creek Correctional Facility from closing.”

Albertson said he also worked on helping the County hire a grant writer on a contract basis. He said that the County and its departments were losing out on the potential of winning millions of dollars in grants. While the position is not full time, the grant writer is paid per grant written.

“Hiring the grant writer has helped our County apply for grants that we might have otherwise missed out on. Not all of our department heads are grant writers and they do not always know about the different grant opportunities available,” he explained.

One major challenge that keeps returning every summer is forest management during the wildfire season and what can be done to help the forest thrive while limiting the number of damaging megafires.

“Back in the 70s and 80s a huge wildfire was considered to be 20,000 acres or larger. I think that these large wildfires are not getting the press coverage like they should. If you combine the Bootleg, Patton Meadow and Cougar Peak fires it burned up the equivalent of 2/3 of the state of Rhode Island. Now if 2/3 of the state of Rhode Island burned up, that would be all over the news,” he said.

He indicated that public lands are not as well maintained as private lands and wildfires do not respect property boundaries and fences, and this impacts private landowners who are working on maintaining forest and land health.

Albertson praised the work the Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council (LCUWC) has been doing with its projects and working to reintroduce fire to the landscape through prescribed burns. Albertson said that the County needs to work more with the federal public land agencies to work toward a more sustainable path.

“We need to work on diversifying our economy. One of the things I want to work on is something called Ranchbnb, which would be similar to Airbnb,” said Albertson.

Most of the economy of Lake County is still reliant on agriculture, ranching and timber, though tourism is starting to make more of an impact. With timber being impacted by cheaper Canadian imports and restrictions due to the Northern Spotted Owl, Albertson said that providing more diverse ways for operations to earn income is his goal.

Through Ranchbnb, people would stay at working ranches throughout Lake County. Whether specific events would be held during a person’s stay is up to the individual ranch; Albertson noted that offering stays on working ranches provides education to people who might not know how ranching operations work. Albertson envisions events such as branding, horse rides, opportunities to hunt and fish as ways for ranchers to earn extra income.

“I want to show people that our ranchers and farmers are truly good stewards of the land that God gave us,” he expressed.

A topic that has been in the news recently is renewable energy facilities and in particular solar facilities. Albertson said that he is not against solar facilities, but that they should not be built on agricultural land that could be irrigated.

“We are the only county in Oregon and possibility the nation that is carbon neutral. I am not 100% opposed to solar facilities, I just do not want them built on agricultural land that could be irrigated,” said Albertson. “We have a large untapped geothermal potential in Lake County and I want to work on expanding geothermal access.”

One area Albertson said needs updating is the Lake County Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. Both documents no longer mesh with each other and have caused issues at the state and county level. Albertson is in favor of revamping the solar ordinances and updating both documents.

There are a variety of projects Albertson said will be coming through the pipeline over the next several years and that he wants to see through. One item will be unveiled at the Lake County Chamber of Commerce Gala on Saturday, Jan. 15. It involves a major update to the Lake County Fairgrounds, though Albertson would not go into detail.

Another is the concept of a regional landfill in the North Lake area. Albertson said that this will take in garbage from other communities that is already baled. This would provide a number of high paying jobs to people living in North Lake and additional funds to Lake County.

Currently, Albertson is running against Karen Morgan in the Tuesday, May 17 primary. If there are no additional entrants then the election for Albertson’s Commission seat will be decided in May. People have until Tuesday, March 8 to register their candidacy.

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