Under this proposed Wilderness Act, BLM Access will be limited access to the BLM lands and the parties involved on the private sector would compromise by having a trail-head with limited access which would now be on their land and not on the once county road they want vacated. Just think about having arm guards asking for your hunting liscense before entering Public Land!
Since this involves everyone that uses Federal Lands for pleasure, sometimes a voice needs to be heard and sent out to fellow outdoor enthusiasts!
A great problem exists in the Western States with B.L.M., land-locked B.L.M. and private. Specifically, I am referring to a large private landing holding in Central Oregon where this has major problem for almost 30 years Recently I spoke with a person (government employee) about B.L.M. lands that are land-lock on this private holding and lack of access. He commented that you can work the corners (checker board BLM) by using Global Positioning Systems. To his amazement I told him that it was against the Law to do so. Regardless of your ability to jump the corners and work them, you still come in the land owner’s air space.
The particular area I am addressing is east of Madras, Oregon and near Historical Donnybrook and borders the John Day River, with both Wasco County and Jefferson County have county roads in the land area. To many it is known as the “Big Muddy Ranch” notoriously it was known as the Rancho Rashneeshpuram. Today it is known as the Washington Family Ranch, which is under the direction of Young Life.
There has been a bill drawn up by a couple of Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to do a Land Swap between a numbers of private property owners with B.L.M. encompassed on their lands. The name of this Bill is S. 2963, Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven Wilderness Act. I believe the idea of consolidating the B.L.M., which has been land-locked since before my time. I am not sure though that it should become a Wilderness Area. After looking at the proposed map of the land swap, there is at least one major issue and that there is no public access to Cathedral Rock.
From what I see one Young Life will have greater benefits then the public would with the present proposal. The greatest concern is the issue with public access to the lands. Cathedral Rock or Coffin Rock would be the toughest proposal due to lack of road access touching the land. There would be on river access on the John Day River and that side of the land is extremely steep and if I remember there is only one real slot to come in from the river. For years now you could have access to the B.L.M. in the area via the N.E. Muddy Creek Rd. The public could get to Wagner Mountain (Cathedral Rock) and Horse Heaven via the N.E. Muddy Creek Rd. Understanding from reliable sources; Young Life has tried to vacate the roads. What his means is that the county road that goes into the area will become a private road. The result is a portion of the proposed land swap could only be used by Young Life and that would be for hunting purposes most likely. In a recent land hearing, the comment by the Director of Young Life is that they would regulate the usage of the road at specific times of the year. The comment was made that the ranch is has youth on the ranch and want to regulate people in the area. Young Life themselves have hunts going on the ranch during the big game season and bird season. Since the Washington Family donated the land to Young Life there is great deal of the money generated from the hunting on the ranch! It was once said when Young Life took over that land that they made comment that to the effect of wanting to put up a game fence 8’ high to keep the game on the ranch. It is strange but understandable that you can’t find a link on the Washington Family Ranch (Young Life) page for hunting or even fishing, rest assure they have it and there is a Game Director for the Ranch!
I personally believe in Young Life’s mission statement!
At this point there is no real benefit to the public or others such as Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs who might have sites in the old B.L.M. that are cultural importance to them to have access.
According to Town Meeting it was said, Young Life feels that all hunters want to trespass their lands to gain access to the B.L.M. or just trespass to hunt. Majority of the public does not realize that Young Life has patrollers during the hunting season patrolling their lands and the B.L.M. (will stop you on the B.L.M.) via truck, ATV or horseback. It should also be known that much of the B.L.M., lands ATV’s are no longer allowed, and you have walk in. There is a section of land east of Donnybrook on top of Gosner Road (Horse Heaven) that many hunters and hikers will camp at. During the hunting season patrollers of Young Life will come into the B.L.M. area that hunters camp on and take vehicle license numbers down and sometimes there have confrontations. This is a known fact, as I myself have experience a number of times of the years. One such encounter was with handgun carrying patrollers on B.L.M. and be accused of trespassing on their lands. I find that this person(s) are now a private land holder (Jefferson County Fire Cheif) next to Young Life property and has been involved to have the Muddy Road vacated and how the land should be used. I made a comment to the Director of Washington Family Ranch at the time, “are you planning to shoot hunters”, his comment back was “we will do whatever is nessacary to protect our lands”. I then asked him why does he feel he has control of the B.L.M. and have gun carrying patrollers on B.L.M.!
My experience is on public record in the Wasco County Courthouse in The Dallas, Oregon.
Why should Young Life, or any other major land owner be able to determine who can be on B.L.M. Far as I am concern, it will lead further to major private land holders having even more control of public land. Just the fact that Young Life wants the road vacated goes along what has happen in many cases in the west with roads being vacated and Federal Lands become permanently landlocked with no Public Access!
Contact to Comment to: Greg Walden U.S. Congressman