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I am appalled at the Bureau of Land Management's response to Sen. Ron Wyden's letter asking BLM to drop or drastically reduce the $10,990 it intends to charge Cycle Oregon for using only 35 miles of constructed roadway and one campground lunch stop (MT, June 17).

BLM is claiming that the Cycle Oregon Group Tour in September is a commercial use of BLM public land. The agency also claims, "The fees are intended to be a fair return in return for use of public land and that they charge for logging trucks and car rallies."

If BLM is serious about collecting user fees and getting a fair return, they must begin charging off-road vehicle groups who are using our public lands as playgrounds every day. All-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes continue to zip along hundreds of miles of roads and trails (both legal and illegal) with devastating environmental consequences. Year after year the damage piles up — trampled vegetation, fragmented habitats and soil erosion.

The mass appeal of these machines is commercialism of the highest order and fixing what they leave in their dust is costing BLM (us) a fortune. Better start collecting. — Chris Bratt, Applegate

Malin, Ore., population over 700 residents, is observing their centennial the weekend of July 17. A century ago (1909) 66 Czech immigrants settled in Klamath County. Perhaps the compilation written by Ryan Bartholomew on the history of Malin states it best about this rural farming community.

"Today, like throughout history, Malin represents what is right about rural America. Malin's history is about neighbor helping neighbor, and hardworking people creating their own opportunities. Although Malin has seen changes, one thing that has never changed is its strong community spirit which is envied by other communities in the area. A community spirit which will continue to help Malin grow for years to come." The rest of this can be read online via Google.

Two letters of mine alluding to Malin's centennial ran in the Ashland Daily Tidings for 2009. They are:

"Celebrating rural Oregon" (Thursday, April 2) and "Musing of firearms, rural communities (Monday, May 18) respectively. These are both archived at www.dailytidings.com. Enter Malin, Oregon into "search." Perhaps native Czech folk dancing, food, etc., will be present at Malin's upcoming centennial observance. — James A. Farmer, Ashland

Christine Mitchell asked why Palestinians "had to be displaced (punished) for what the Nazis did." Though many Jews immigrated to Palestine because of European persecution beginning in the 1800s, Jews have been living there continuously for 3,000 years. Jews are as indigenous to the area as Arabs.

In 1900, there were more Jews than Arabs in Jerusalem and Hebron.

In 1947, the United Nations offered a two-state compromise to Palestinian Jews and Arabs. Only 20 percent of the original "Palestine" was available because the recently created Arab state of TransJordan received 80 percent of Palestine after World War I. The Jews accepted the compromise; the Arabs refused.

When surrounding Arab nations declared war on Israel in 1948, Israel invited Arabs living in Israel to stay (except those attacking Israel from within) and many did. There are 1.5 million Arab Israelis today.

Attacking nations suggested all Arabs in Israel leave while they destroyed it. When Israel wasn't destroyed, 700,000 Arab Palestinian refugees were created whom the surrounding Arab countries refused to absorb.

The 800,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from surrounding Arab nations were absorbed by Israel.

Thousands of Arabs chose to leave and were not displaced by the creation of Israel. — Eliza Kauder, Ashland

Please continue carrying the columns of Leonard Pitts. He is often interesting and definitely informative. If Mr. Smith does not like facts, he can choose to read something else. Today the Republican Party is the party of opportunity for corporations and the very wealthy. — Mary-Kay Michelsen, Ashland