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Commissioners review multiple updates

Lake County’s Board of Commissioners reviewed multiple topics of discussion during the department and liaison updates segment of their Tuesday, Jan. 21, work session.

Commissioner Brad Winters commented on forthcoming meetings, including the Special Transportation Improvement Plan, slated to meet this week to discuss its 2018/2020 plan.  Also meeting this week is a committee pertaining to the Connect Oregon V program, which funds a variety of projects, including transportation-related proposals.

Commissioner Winters also said that Sen. Ron Wyden is reportedly slated to pay Lakeview a visit in the near future, and also commented favorably on a recent meeting of the Lake County Railroad Advisory Committee.

Commissioner Ken Kestner commented on a recent meeting with Brent Fenty, executive director of the Oregon Natural Desert Association conservation group, to discuss the ONDA’s interest in federal designation of the Oregon Desert Trail as an interconnector route with existing national recreation trails.

A portion of this trail’s route passes through parts of Lake County.

Kestner reported the request was a mixed decision by ONDA’s board of directors, and plans to continue addressing this proposal out of concerns that such a designation would lead to future restrictions on land use in the region.

Kestner also commented briefly on the sage grouse issue, with regard to a proposal in the BLM’s preferred alternative to remove grazing from prime habitat, despite more than a century and a half of grazing history in the area.

Commissioner Dan Shoun updated the board on the fate of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, a federal program that reimburses communities featuring large tracts of public lands, for which property taxes are not assessed.

Shoun reported discussions of a permanent solution occurring at the federal level that would circumvent a year-to-year renewal.

Among these discussions have been talks of a renewal through 2023, he said, marking a 10-year extension which would afford affected communities greater funding stability.

Commissioner Ken Kestner affirmed the need for a sustained program.  Shoun said counties need to push for mandatory funding, whether a permanent extension or one of 10 years, and that the funds should not be at the whim of Congressional discretionary funding practices.

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