Reckless Burning Charge Against Federal Burn Boss Dismissed

JAYSON JACOBY – Baker City Herald, Ore.

Criminal charges have been dismissed against Ricky Lane Snodgrass, the U.S. Forest Service employee charged with reckless burning after overseeing a prescribed fire in Grant County in October 2022.

Charges were moved from Grant County Circuit Court to federal court in March 2024.

An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for July 11 and a jury trial was tentatively set to start Nov. 12.

But on June 5, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Hallman signed a motion to dismiss the criminal charge, a Class A misdemeanor.

The state did not oppose Snodgrass’ motion, according to a court document.

The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the charges can’t be refiled.

Snodgrass’ attorneys filed the first motion to dismiss on May 10.

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“Mr. Snodgrass was a federal employee doing what was necessary and proper to carry out his duties,” the motion states. “He is entitled to immunity. The State’s disagreement with the Forest Service’s decision to conduct a prescribed burn on October 19, 2022, does not entitle them to charge a federal employee with a state crime for doing his job. This case must be dismissed.”

Then, on June 5, Snodgrass’ attorneys, along with Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter, filed a joint motion seeking to dismiss the case with prejudice.

Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley arrested Snodgrass on Oct. 19, 2022, while he was supervising a prescribed burn in the Malheur National Forest near Bear Valley. Embers from the planned burn area blew across the Izee-Paulina Highway and charred close to 20 acres of timber and grazing land belonging to a private ranch before the blaze could be put out.

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It is believed to be the first time a Forest Service firefighter has been arrested in the course of doing their job.

On Feb. 2, 2024, more than a year after his arrest, Snodgrass was indicted on a single misdemeanor count of reckless burning by a Grant County grand jury. He was arraigned in Grant County Circuit Court on Feb. 16. A plea hearing was scheduled for April 1, but Snodgrass’ attorneys asked that the hearing be postponed pending the outcome of their request for case transfer to federal court.

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(c)2024 the Baker City Herald (Baker City, Ore.)

Visit the Baker City Herald (Baker City, Ore.) at www.bakercityherald.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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JAYSON JACOBY – Baker City Herald, Ore. Criminal charges have been dismissed against Ricky Lane Snodgrass, the U.S. Forest Service employee charged with reckless burning after overseeing a prescribed fire in Grant County in October 2022. Charges were moved from Grant County Circuit Court to federal court in March 2024. An evidentiary hearing was scheduled for July 11 and a jury trial was tentatively set to […]

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