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Posts Tagged ‘oregon parks and recreation department’

At its Corvallis meeting on Wednesday, November 20 the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved all four motions regarding this action (quoted below from the meeting’s press release http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/Documents/bandon-november-action.pdf):

Motion 1: the Commission finds that the contemplated Bandon Biota exchange meets the “overwhelming public benefit” standard of OAR 736-019-0070(4) and instruct the department to prepare a proposed final order for Commission approval.Motion 2: the Commission finds that the acquisition of Grouse Mountain Ranch meets the acquisition standards in OAR 736-019-0060 and instruct the department to prepare a proposed final order for Commission approval.

Motion 3: the Commission directs the Department to continue good faith efforts to address local community concerns as reflected in the Governor’s letter dated November 19, 2013.

Motion 4: the department will accept additional written testimony until December 6, 2013, regarding the proposed exchange or the proposed Grouse Mountain Ranch acquisition to afford the department the opportunity to consider the comments in preparing the proposed final orders.

Apparently the Bandon Biota’s latest golf course, slated for the Natural Area, is overwhelmingly beneficial to the public. Other pledged land and matching cash for acquisition, lots of cash for a new eastern Oregon State Park, and a promise of gorse removal might have had something to do It. The letter Governor Kitzhaber penned supporting the swap might have also had some impact on the decision.

I admit I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the 2+ hour audio of the meeting. A quick glance through the additional comments received didn’t seem to suggest overwhelming approval from the public, especially those in Grant County, the eastern Oregon locale of the potential new state park. Skimming through the botanist’s report on the natural area vegetation in the swap area, I noticed some interesting maps, two which appeared to  show rare plant distributions (pg. 38 and 39), and another (pg. 44) at least one area of “highest natural resource value. Habitat contains legally protected species.” http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/Documents/bandon-habitat-inventory-20131029.pdf

I also noted that the Governor’s letter was not “cced”  to any elected official or office in Grant County. I doubt State Parks employees are looking forward to addressing Motion 3’s direction to address local community concerns. As far as I can tell, so far nobody’s talked much with anybody out there at all about this idea.

Final Commission approval is slated to be considered at its next meeting, February 5, 2014 in the Salem area.

Want to get involved? You’ve got until December 6. Email at: oprd.publiccomment@state.or.us

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In July (“South Coast Natives?”) we reported on a proposed land swap plus money deal proposed to the Oregon Recreation and Parks Department (ORPD) by Bandon golf course developer Mike Keiser (dba Bandon Biota). This  revises their 2010 proposal which was rejected because it did not meet the ORPD criterion of “overwhelming public benefit”.

From ORPD’s The Bandon State Natural Area Exchange Proposal:

“The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and representatives with Bandon Biota have created a framework for an agreement to exchange a 280 acre portion of 878-acre Bandon State Natural Area in trade for:

  • 111 acres of property next to the Natural Area.
  • 97 acres on Coquille Spit north of Bandon.
  • As much as $2.95 million in cash, part of which helps match a grant to acquire 10 acres of Whale Cove in Lincoln County, and part of it would purchase 6,100 acres of the Grouse Mountain property in Grant County for use as a future state park.
  • $300,000 work of gorse control in Coos and Curry counties.”
Bandon Property Boundaries  courtesy of the Oregon Coastal Alliance

Bandon Property Boundaries
courtesy of the Oregon Coastal Alliance

Public meetings were held in Bandon and Mt. Vernon in mid-August, and 35 written comments have been posted online. Of those written comments, 12 were in favor of the deal (mostly from Bandon), 22 against and one suggested a different approach entirely.

Yeses cited mostly economic advantages (jobs and tourist dollars) and Mr’s Keiser’s conservation record at his other Bandon golf courses. (Also it was pointed out that few Bandon residents aren’t receptive to gorse removal help wherever it comes from.)

Gorse Removal in BSNA courtesy of oregonlive

Gorse Removal in BSNA
courtesy of oregonlive

The 22 Nos were a surprising coalition. There were parkland preservationists (mostly from the south coast), who lamented the loss of unique public coastal habitat, and questioned both the swap’s legality based on Department of Interior stipulations on the land which was given to the state in the late 60s, and the precedent this swap would set for the whole Oregon park system. They were joined by a vocal group of Grant County (site of Grouse Mountain) ranchers, farmers and elected officials who don’t want any more public land in their county, period. Nor were they pleased to have no opportunity for a public meeting or discussion in their neck of the woods.

The earliest State Parks Commissioners could decide is November. For more info and to read all the comments see: http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/pages/commission-bandon.aspx.

Updates to continue.

 

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