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Crooked River Roundup

Land issues on horizon at Ranch

   By John Bowler
   CRR Correspondent
   Land in all its permutations and combinations has long been a subject of considerable interest at Crooked River Ranch and cause for extensive investigations, deliberations and negotiations.
   Of late, there has been some action on current Ranch land projects and it seems like a good time to review the latest developments to determine where things stand.
   Current activity has centered around 101 acres of land that has been discussed at length during the two most recent meetings of the Ranch Club and Maintenance Association Board of Directors by Kristin Kovalik of the Trust for Public Land.
   In 2010, the trust purchased 101 acres of undeveloped land on the rim of the Crooked River extending south along the rim between the river and the Ranch golf course and driving range.
   The original owner of the land approached a homeowners association board in the 1990s seeking permission to extend the existing Ranch road through the Ranch commercial area beyond its termination point at the Sunview Motel.
   He said the extension was needed to allow owner as well as public access to his planned condominium development on the rim property.
   That proposal caused quite a stir -- not only on the HOA board but among the resident membership.
   It was debated vigorously and at length. The result was outright rejection of the rim property owner's request by a vote. At the time, it was thought the increased traffic that would result on the road through the Ranch commercial area would be excessively disruptive to regular users and the road too expensive to maintain.
   The trust has other plans for the land now. Kovalik says they have an agreement with the Bureau of Land Management for the latter to purchase the land from the trust.
   The BLM then would provide public access through the Ranch commercial area (again) down Hollywood Road as a scenic pedestrian hiking trail.
   The trust has asked the HOA board to approve public access to the Hollywod Road entrance through the Ranch commercial area. In return, they will negotiate easements to the Ranch for a couple of existing encroachments of trust land by the Ranch golf course and driving range.
   The new proposal for public access through the Ranch commercial area has revived many of the points deliberated back in the 1990s by the HOA board and membership.
   Also, once again the owner of the rim property has already made a specific plan for further use of the land that hinges on obtaining that access. Kovalik said the trust hopes to conclude this purchase by BLM within a year.
   Further deliberations between the trust and the HOA are planned and, at this point, outcome is still up in the air. The main difference this time is that the intended eventual use of the land is for public entertainment and pleasure. In the 1990s, it was for a return on the investment in the land by a private owner.
   Another proposal about land within Ranch boundaries concerns about 50 acres owned by the MacPherson family just south of the CRR Fire Hall.
   It has been proposed that land be swapped for a like amount of land owned by the Ranch at its northern boundary. The purpose of the swap would be for the construction of a Ranch Community Center.
   This idea was originally put forth and discussed in a public meeting late last fall, conducted by Frank Wood, founder of the Community Development Organization.
   Nancy Popp is currently the elected president of the organization and de facto liaison between the Ranch HOA and the MacPherson trust, represented locally by attorney Paul Sumner.
   This past July, it was agreed that a meeting would be arranged between the Ranch HOA board and the head of MacPherson trust, Murry MacPherson, to further explore and ultimately negotiate the land swap.
   There has been no further word on when that meeting is likely to take place. Neither Nancy Popp nor Paul Sumner had responded to an update request by Monday.
   One other long-debated Ranch land-use issue is the conversion of a 52-acre Wilderness Study Area on the western perimeter of the Ranch to a permanent wilderness area.
   The conversion was supported by the Oregon Natural Desert Association, but Ranch membership voted to turn down the conversion in a lopsided, but limited response survey of HOA membership last summer.
   An interesting sidelight of this proposal includes converting an existing unimproved gravel road exit out of the Ranch to Lower Bridge Road.
   The road lies partially within the Wilderness Study Area. The proposal is to improve and pave the existing road to make an alternate Ranch exit and evacuation route.
   An alternate exit to the Ranch, in addition to the Chinook Road connection out to Lower Bridge Road, has long been a desired objective by Ranch officials. All other alternate exit possibilities studied have turned out so far to be too costly in the current economic recession environment.
   ONDA's project leader on the proposed wilderness area, Gena Goodman-Campbell, said further action on the proposal is probably not imminent because Congress has other more urgent priorities at this time.
   She added that ONDA still has this project in its sights for completion and that Cindy Murray of the relatively new Fans of the Deschutes Canyon Area (www.fansdeschutes.org) has also shown interest in the project.