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Commission adds voice to opposition

Whychus-Deschutes Wilderness proposal
The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners has added its voice to the opposition to the proposed Whychus-Deschutes Wilderness Area.
   On Oct. 5, the commission decided to submit letters to Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Greg Walden expressing their concerns about the plan to set aside 15,234 acres, including the Lower Whychus Creek and the Middle Deschutes River canyons and surrounding uplands, which are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Crooked River National Grassland.
   "We join the Crooked River Ranch Rural Fire District's and Crooked River Ranch Homeowner's Association's opposition to this proposal," the letters noted.
   The commission pointed out that in a recent vote, 66 percent of the Ranch homeowners who returned their ballots were opposed to the wilderness designation.
   The Ranch, which has a population of 4,600, is the second largest community in the county.
   "The current property for the most part is under federal ownership and not in danger of development," the county stated. "The county recently updated the Community Wildfire Protectin Plan in May 2011, and we do not believe that a wilderness designation within the three-mile wildland urban interface is desirable adjacent to an established community."