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By Ruth Hall 

Commissioners have made public lands private

Letter to the Editor


I think what people may not know regarding the road closures in the South Okanogan County, from 2001 until the recent Three Devils Road in 2015, is that there are thousands of acres of public land that the public no longer has access to. The only access is for the large landowners — Gebbers/Gamble corporations and DNR & Forest Service agencies (who have keys to the gates). This vacation of roads in favor of the Gebbers/Gamble corporations has been occurring for years.

We are currently in appeals court to determine whether our current county commissioners acted correctly in taking away the public’s “right-of-way” on Three Devils Road. According to Washington state law, a road vacation needs to be a benefit to the public and the road needs to be found useless. The current commissioners voted to vacate both Hooker Creek & Three Devils Road in favor of this large landowner, despite public testimony against the closures.

Sheilah Kennedy’s website states the visiting judge from Douglas County agreed with their decision. On the contrary, the judge didn’t understand why they voted against their hearings examiner’s recommendation, but ruled that it was a legislative/political decision rather than a quasi-judicial decision. Therefore, our remedy is at the ballot box.

The appeals court, in Spokane, will be making a ruling on this.

County commissioners make some very important decisions that affect us all. Please take the time to get to know the candidates running for the two positions. Your vote counts!

Ruth Hall


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