The Union County Board of Commissioners has substantially altered the Forest Management Plan for the Mount Emily Recreation Area with no public notice, no public hearings  and no public input — apparently not even from the MERA Advisory Board. There appears to be no noticing or minutes on the county website, as far as I can make out.

A substantial commercial logging operation is set to begin in MERA this winter, rather than the former plan’s thinning and fire control operations. The commercial logging will degrade, and in places destroy, the pedestrian, mountain bike and equestrian trails laboriously put in place by MERA volunteers. It will compromise the scenic values we all enjoy in MERA.

MERA is a place all La Grande and Union County residents enjoy for outdoor recreation. More than that, since the trail system’s creation, it has become a major draw for outdoor enthusiasts from all over the region (and even farther), especially mountain bikers. This pumps money into our local economy at a time our local retail and hospitality businesses desperately need it.

Why is there such a lack of transparency to the county’s actions? Is the public’s interest being considered here? Please contact the commissioners and request public meetings on this issue at a time the working public can attend. Let your commissioners know you care about MERA.

David Moyal

La Grande

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