NE Oregon . . . get friendly with wolf watchers and lose your property rights

Couple near Joseph, Oregon have plans for a bed and breakfast rejected because they associate with enviros and might enjoy wolves-

A couple owning 16 acres of land deemed unsuitable for agriculture have lost their first round in an attempt to build a tiny bed and breakfast on their land because local folks believe they associate with environmentalists who are interested in the local wolf population.

The Wallowa County Planning Commissioners voted three to three to deny them a building permit after allegations that they had hosted members of the group Oregon Wild on their property. Fears were raised that those who would visit might call wolves in and that would harm the local agricultural segment of the economy. Oregon Wild is suing the Oregon Department of Fish and Wild over wolf management. Three local ranchers have intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of ODW. They opposed the permit. There was also opposition based on the contention that a bed and breakfast inside a barn and local agriculture did not mix.  Now the issue will go to the local county commissioners.

There have always been threats to peoples’ property rights, the reason why they are protected in the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. This is a very unusual reason for attempting to abridge property rights.

A “blow-by-blow” description of the controversy appeared in the local Observer newspaper.  The comments section to the story is also very revealing showing local xenophobic sentiment.

Update 11/1/11: The owner of the Barking Mad Farm has commented on this post saying that:

We had been steered there by the same commission that then turned us down!




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  1. Paul Avatar

    I have seen this “prohuman” clown post elsewhere. Now wolf lovers are terrorists:

    “Yes, well I have a stack of evil, vile, nasty, death threats from the lunatic fringe from the wolf lovers. Is that who you are talking about? Better be careful where you buy your fancy house ALF terrorist have been known to burn down houses. But like most radical groups ALF and wolf lovers go hand and hand. Or was the Seattle area where ALF the number 1 DOMESTIC TERRORIST GROUP IN AMERICA burn down all those fancy homes. It’s hard to keep up with all their terrorist activities.”

    Somehow I doubt it is the “wolf lovers” who are making the “threats” in this case. How this putz can equate pro-wolf advocates to nut-job ALF terrorists is beyond me.
    – – –
    Just a note from the webmaster. Paul is referring to one of the comments made on the story that appeared in the Observer. RM

    1. william huard Avatar
      william huard

      This is the type of rhetoric that Bruce Hemming spews. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was him.

      1. Barb Rupers Avatar
        Barb Rupers

        A website for Bruce Hemming has and email address that starts prohuman@

        1. Paul Avatar

          This clown sure gets around. He was posting is garbage in the comments section of Wisconsin news sites whenever there was a story about our wolves. If I am not mistaken this fool also posted on the story of the “scared wolf killin’ granny” from a few weeks ago. He was saying that there were hunters being “attacked” left and right by wolves, but there was this grand conspiracy not to report it.

          1. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue

            He’s also the guy responsible for the posts that the Lolo elk herd has been reduced from 20,000 to their present levels because of wolves.

        2. Kristi Avatar

          That is Bruce Hemming and that is his website.

  2. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    Would this be the North Dakota nit wit

  3. Nancy Avatar

    +Botts said she believes that a bed and breakfast is not compatible with farming and ranching+

    This is almost laughable. I personally know ranching families that have turned their property into dude ranches, built cabins to accommodate guests or fixed up old cabins for rent.

    What about the traffic from hunters on some of these “ag” properties? Not to mention fertilizer trucks, tractors, trucks hauling produce and stock trailers coming and going, clogging up the roads? And these wimps are worried about a handful of guests coming and going??

    I’d be willing to bet if this property owner wanted to hold revival meetings every Sunday on their property, no one would be having a problem.

  4. Jon Way Avatar

    These conservative (not conservation that is for sure) type of people are the biggest hypocrites that there could possibly be. Yet there will likely be a private property complaint made from these people like we see in places outside of Yellowstone and many other places. Hypocrites.

  5. WM Avatar

    The bickering and the substantce of the dispute aside, the core of the issue before this local planning commission and Board of Commissiners (locally elected) is whether the proposed use is compatible with existing use and whatever zoning they have.

    Change the facts a bit to see the issue at hand: Say the existing land use of the area is a large housing development, with nice homes, restaurants and businesses dependent on clean air and scenery. A proposal before the planning commission is for a big dairy adjacent to existing uses. Whose rights should prevail?

    The question is whose EXISTING property rights are affected by the PROPOSED use, and whatever property rights might accompany that proposed use? Ultimately that is how the matter will be reviewed, and that is the function of planning and zoning commissions.

    Is a dinky B&B going to significantly change the character of this predominantly agricultural area by MAYBE catering to a pro-environmental, pro-wolf business, and possibly calling in wolves? Will it change the character of the community and who stands to lose or gain economically from approval of the use? As they say all politics is local.

    1. Jon Way Avatar

      In your hypothetical example, the 1 dairy farm will claim that his constitutional rights are being violated. He will then build a huge, stinking (literally) farm around the subdivisions, the local land will be denuded with cow crap – everyone will complain around him, but he will keep his permits b.c cows rule.

      God forgive a bed and breakfast go up. It is their land and those locals are hypocrites. How impacting can a bed and breakfast be compared to just about any kind of agriculture.

      1. WM Avatar

        I agree jon.

        Wallowa County has just a few thousand residents, where everybody who is anybody knows everybody else who makes decisions. Agriculture dominates the economy, and conservative folks are not particularly liking to change (and then there are those uninvited federal wolves coming in from ID, with that state wolf plan made by the damn bureaucrats in Salem, and the enviros are even challenging that because its not liberal enough for ’em). Wikipedia says it’s 63% R’s.

        Any predictions on a final outcome for this land use proposal?

        1. taz alago Avatar
          taz alago

          Good chance it’ll pass.

    2. JB Avatar

      Zoning disputes have a way of getting ugly. In the small town where I grew up a local landowner petitioned to have zoning change to accommodate his desire to start a mobile home park. The Board refused, noting that the land was zoned for agriculture and putting in a mobile home park would be an eye-sore. The landowner ultimately got the last laugh. He put in a pig farm and used hollowed-out mobile homes as shelters for the pigs. All within the letter of the law.

      I still snicker every time I drive passed the property.

    3. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      The Joseph, Oregon area does not see itself as a place incompatible with bed and breakfasts as this web page shows. Agriculture isn’t even mentioned on the city web page.

      A search shows a number of B and Bs already existing in the area.

      It is a flat out attempt to deprive these people of their rights under the Constitution because of who they are thought to associate with.

      1. WM Avatar

        Ralph, you may be correct on the city of Joseph perspective, afterall this is Hell’s Canyon country and recreation is the attraction.

        This, however, is a county land use decision, not City of Joseph, although they may be asked for input. I am much less sure on the depriving of property rights, though the objectors’ rational seems bogus on its face. There are likely legal opinions being sought by the County and maybe the applicant, prior to a decision by the Commissioners, but its a small county so who knows how sophisticated they might be in that regard (recall Ravelli, ID and some of its anti-wolf antics).

        Agriculture (labeled AG/foresty/fishing/hunting), according to this website, which has more information than anyone would ever want to know about a county, seems a dominant sector of the economy with something like 23% of all jobs are in the catagory for males and another 10% or so for females. So that seems alot to me.

        1. taz alago Avatar
          taz alago

          Ag has 23%, not ranching per se. . Traditional ranching is fading here, but new progressive outfits like the Carmen Ranch are prospering. You can listen to the entire planning meeting by buying the CD ($5) from the County.

      2. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        What a bunch of freedom-loving patriots on that commission.

  6. Kathy W. Avatar
    Kathy W.

    It’s really so very sad that you can’t even make a dream come true due to simply being friends with or enjoy certain wildlife. What kind of people is Oregon producing or any other state who would go so personally as to attack a persons right of making a living because of who they might associate with or what type of animal they find enjoyable? These are the types of businesses that would bring income in to more than just the B and B it will be the whole area that will lose out on extra income. Again so very sad humans have become so intolerable of each other they would rather see someones income cease or not start due to their own hatred of a whole other species.. You should hang your heads in shame those who voted against this.

  7. Catbestland Avatar

    Isn’t this a violation of these people’s civil rights as well? (by not allowing them to conduct a lawful business) I would sick the ACLU on them.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I think the county might be at jeopardy on this. These folks seem to have lost their right to develop their small business because of who they associate with, or are rumored to associate with. Your property rights can’t be taken from you on the basis of the political views of your friends.

  8. CodyCoyote Avatar

    I thought April Fool’s Day wasn’t for another five months.

    This is possibly the most boneheaded thing I have heard of any western County Commission doing, and that is saying something. Eclipses them all : the Jardine NV Shovel brigade, Catron County New Mexico shenanigans , Utah ummpa-lummpas…

  9. BnB owner Avatar
    BnB owner

    We are the owners of the site and the applicants for a two room BnB for up to FOUR people a year. We have run our current business for 6 years in an agricultural area with no problems, complaints or negativity. We pointed out that we have fulfilled ALL the legal requirements for this use. We bought land that had been legally split off in an Oregon land use decision and is NON ag land and that nobody else wanted. We had been steered there by the same commission that then turned us down! We have put all our utilities underground, put in a new 1/4 mile long road, our materials and colors all fit in with the landscape which we have repaired and removed weeds from. We told the commission and assorted speakers that we do not and will not and never have run or participated in any kind of tour – bronze, art, eco, rodeo, whatever. We do not and will not screen our guests on race, creed, political beliefs and do believe that eco tourism is a great and growing industry and economic boon for this County. We feel that we, as do they, have EQUAL rights to develop and make a living on our land and to choose our friends freely. About 15 people spoke about wolves (with their supporters there too) and how we do not ‘fit in’ and they do not want change and ridiculous “what ifs” like what if a car alarm went off (the nearest house is about 1 mile away) or what if our guests were upset by gunshots, or a dead cow or….a cow got on our property (we run cattle and grow hay at our current location!!!)We appreciate your support and interest- it means a lot to us. Thank you.

  10. timz Avatar

    Eastern Oregon is often compared to Arkansas, you know inbreeding, etc.

  11. Nancy Avatar

    Incredibly beautiful state, not enough room for another little Bed & Breakfast?

  12. Mike Avatar

    Go to school, folks. Listen to what the teachers say, and do a bit of travelling. Spend time talking with people who don’t look like you now and then. Visit a few museums. Learn a bit about history and various cultures. More books, less TV.

    This is how you avoid being “them”.

  13. mad Avatar

    I think you folks have it all wrong, these Commissioners are just trying to save their community. Why just check out their concern expressed at the Board of Commissioners meeting last month, 10/3/11, in the minutes:

    Commissioner Castilleja stressed that he is going to draft a resolution setting policy not to accept any new
    “not native” species of animals into Wallowa County. He would like to have this resolution approved by
    the end of the year. There was discussion of recent wolf activities in Wallowa County.

    See, rocket scientists, all of them. How utterly pathetic. Those owners better get a good attorney to help them fight for a 5th Amendment taking, just like the Property rights whackos were doing against all the ESA and CAA and other environmental regs.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      Solzhenitsyn wrote about a large meeting in front of a local party chief in the Soviet Union. A tribue to Stalin was called for, and there was a standing ovation that lasted for over 20 minutes. Nobody wanted to be the first one to quit clapping. After a while, one poor soul finally quit and was then subsequently shipped off to the Gulag.

      Can’t you picture a bunch of these county commissioner types in the same situation when a tribute to the almighty cow is called for? Don’t a powerful member of the ranching lobby see you flinch, no matter how ridiculous it gets!

  14. Connie Avatar

    About 10 years ago while visiting my son in Portland, we decided to drive to Hell’s Canyon for a looksee and ended up in Joseph. It was one of the most beautiful areas and charming small towns I’ve ever visited. Best wishes, BnB Owners! I would gladly return and frequent your establishment.

  15. Daniel Berg Avatar
    Daniel Berg

    Kelly, this isn’t about ranchers, it’s about a bed and breakfast. The fact that you start your post by complaining about ranchers not being able to shoot wolves for any reason they see fit arouses suspicion about your judgement regarding this B&B issue.

    I wonder how many people can read your first paragraph and then turn around and buy into your statement that,”It is a process that takes place in any county when a variance of land use is requested.” without questioning whether the commissioners are of your same mindset.

    I hope you’re not employed in public relations……

  16. BnB owner Avatar
    BnB owner

    If anybody would like to help, comments should be addressed to Mike Hayward, Board of Commissioners. Leaving out wolves – or at least comments about them would (except as an attractant for tourism and bringing $$ to our community)be helpful. Property rights, personal rights, tourism, and anything else would be constructive. And also that a lot of people seem to care about this issue.
    Please leave out vitriol and accusations…it is cathartic but maybe not constructive 🙂 We deeply appreciate your help.

  17. BnB owner Avatar
    BnB owner

    Update on our Bed and Breakfast application….because we support eco and wolf tourism as a great income source in Wallowa County (Oregon) we were told that “putting a BnB in this farm country is like putting a mosque at Ground Zero”…we have 10 days to gather support for our endeavors. Help appreciated!

    1. JB Avatar

      Thanks for the update. What kind of help do you need?

    2. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      “because we support eco and wolf tourism as a great income source in Wallowa County (Oregon) we were told that “putting a BnB in this farm country is like putting a mosque at Ground Zero”…”

      Bastardization of analogy. So….. wolf and eco tourists, can’t drink from the same fountain as others, back of the bus, can’t sleep and eat in…

      As JB asks, how can we help?

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Perhaps you can help by contacting the Wallowa County Commission and letting them know it makes the place appear unfriendly, hostile, and maybe even dangerous to those who visit. You might be at risk if there is anything about you that makes you look like a “wolf watcher” in the stereotyped view of some aggies. Decision day is Dec. 19.

  18. Jersey Avatar

    Ralph – nice – YOU are spreading the hateful stereotype – telling people they might be at risk if they “look like a wolf watcher, And to tell the comissioners that. I would have thought you would have better judgement than to join the agenda driven. This is NOT about wolves – this is about a use of the property that is outside of the lawfull allowance…. Private prop. or not – there is other land in this county that is suited for what the Hunters are trying to do; zones that ALLOW it outright. You seem so ill versed in the REAL issue here…..

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      I believe there are some real unfriendly folks in Wallowa County, though no doubt some honorable folks too.

      Tim Egan in his book Lasso the Wind describes in some detail the Wallowa “lynching in effigy” of Andy Kerr and Ric Bailey. They were two environmental activists who moved there (timber activists I believe). I had forgotten this until I got an email about it. Read up folks: Terrorism in a Small Town. This is from 1995.

      While this was a long time ago (1887), Egan also writes about the murder of 31 Chinese miners by “toughs” in the area. Some of them were never prosecuted. Others were acquitted by a local jury. Egan also details the wrongs to the Wallowa Nez Perce tribe. We could argue that the Hunters are suffering the same thing as Bailey and Kerr.

      Now I have no animosity to folks in Eastern Oregon. My wife found summer employment to the south of the Wallowa Mountains near Halfway for a number of years, most recently in 2010. There is more tolerance there in my opinion. I know a Forest Service employee from Halfway, however, who had not to use the Forest Service vehicle when on the backroads of Wallowa County for fear of harm from locals.

  19. Diana Hunter Avatar
    Diana Hunter

    The bed and breakfast application was turned down today.

    1. Paul Avatar

      Is there a lawsuit in the works?

  20. Nancy Avatar

    THIS, is absolute rubbish and a fine example of that sense of entitlement, control, still so prevalent in western states that are run, literally, by ag interests.

    “But in the end, he said, his decision came down to a matter of basic land-use planning, “where you put more intense development closer to cities rather than clear out by themselves where they don’t have services and tend to conflict more with the rural nature of the area.”

    He decided the standalone bed and breakfast would have too many potential conflicts with ranches in an exclusive farm use zone.

    “There’s a difference between a bed and breakfast on a working ranch or farm and having 16-acre parcel where the b&b is it – a standalone business surrounded by working ranches,” he said. “The potential conflict is much higher than if you’re part of a ranch operation”

    Maybe Jersey can log back on and explain the difference between a

    “bed and breakfast on a working ranch or farm and having 16-acre parcel where the b&b is it – a standalone business surrounded by working ranches”


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan