PRINEVILLE, OR -- Prineville City Councilors, like Crook County Commissioners, have voted to oppose a plan that would convert part of the Ochoco National Forest into a National Recreation Area. Oregon Wild is proposing the idea, but it has met large opposition in the region.
600 people showed up at Tuesday's City Council meeting to voice their opinion, and all but a few opposed it. Mayor Betty Roppe doesn't believe it's needed.
"I think it's working, right now. We're quite comfortable with how it's working with the Forest Service managing it. And, I don't know what any of the proposals would add to that. In fact, I think it may detract from it, because they're proposing to close more roads. And, I know the Forest Service has already done some of that." She adds, "They were going to create three new wilderness areas. When you have a wilderness areas, you cannot take any motorized vehicles into that, you cannot go in with chainsaws, etc. And, I didn't see that was an advantage. I think the Forest Service is doing a fine job with what they're doing."
Councilors listened to an hour and a half of comments from residents and Roppe says the feedback was pretty one-sided. "A significant number of our citizens were saying they didn't trust it to stop with what they were initially proposing. They thought once they proposed one thing that it could be increased to encompass other things."
Roppe says Councilors plans to send letters to Congressman Greg Walden and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, saying the city opposes the plan.