CROOKED RIVER RANCH, OR -- Crooked River Ranch-area residents are concerned about the risks associated with living next to a wilderness area. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) wants to move the boundary of the wilderness area to help reduce the risk of wildfire.
His plan calls for the boundary of the Whychus-Deschutes Wilderness Study Area to be moved farther away from the small community. It would allow a buffer between the Crooked River and the canyon.
CRR resident Marilynne Keyser was part of a group that came up with several ideas for the management of those local public lands. She says moving the boundary was part of their discussions. "Representative Walden has kind of run roughshod over what most of our Congressman are asking us to do, which is get the stakeholders together and work on a solution for your community. We were doing that, and he just moved in and pulled out one piece - the piece that had to do with taking land out of the wilderness area."
Keyser tells KBND News she feels Walden's plan took just a piece of her group's idea dealing with fire concerns, instead of looking at the bigger picture. She says she supports the concept of Walden's legislation, but, "We want a balanced approach that will find solutions for everyone - not just for those of us who live at Crooked River Ranch and have concerns about fire, but for the thousands of people that use our public lands and want to protect the water, the wildlife, the native plants and permanent access for recreators."
The Crooked River Ranch Fire chief testified before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, Thursday morning. Chief Richard Hoffmann was invited to brief the committee in support of Congressman Walden’s plan.
Walden says current federal land policies don’t allow for basic fire prevention management around Crooked River Ranch. He says the area is at high fire risk due to overstocked juniper stands