PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County Commissioners will host another town hall meeting next week, on a proposal to turn part of the Ochoco National Forest into a recreational area. Commissioner Ken Fahlgren tells KBND News they've already held three public meetings to gather feedback. "It is a federal change, if it were to happen. It’s a proposal by an environmental group to, in my eyes, add another layer to the forest that’s already having a hard time trying to work through our needs with natural resources and the ability to continue keeping from having catastrophic wildfires."
The proposal is from the environmental group Oregon Wild. Fahlgren says, "The one in Crook County, Ochoco Mountains, has to do with about 300,000 acres in our timberland, Ochoco National Forest. It would, in their eyes, be important to become a national recreation area. And, that 300,000 acres would then also include about 24,000 acres of expanded wilderness."'
Read more about the Oregon Wild proposal HERE.
He says, so far, public feedback has been overwhelmingly against the idea. "In the best scenario, there would be dollars available in federal funds to help support trail systems, to talk about roadless areas, more for recreation than it would be for any type of harvest that then would, in our case, support roads and schools. There has to be a balance where we all are able to support what we truly need, which is to keep our forests healthy and safe, but also support the dollars that it takes to take care of our roads and our schools."
The next town hall is scheduled for 7 p.m. on January 21, at the Crook County Fairgrounds.