TERREBONNE, OR -- Smith Rock State Park may soon grow by 38 acres. A neighboring tract abutting the southeast corner of the existing park could be purchased to expand the popular climbing and hiking area. It's called the McFarlane property, and is already accessible to hikers and climbers.
Chris Havel, with Oregon State Parks, tells KBND News, "It gives us a place where we know people are going to enjoy a little bit more of a hike, and it's got some other climbing opportunities associated with it, as well, and that's one of the attractions, hiking and climbing at the park, so it does provide just a little more space to do those things." He says Smith Rock's 650 acres is not enough for the 900,000 people that visit each year, "We have two big issues at Smith Rock, and parking and access for vehicles, that's one of them. The other one is the trails, and the experiences inside the park, those can get congested, whether the parking lot's full or not."
Havel says, "When we went through park planning recently, we identified properties around the rim of the park, adjacent to the park, that would make good acquisitions, and this 38-acre parcel was one of them. It protects 1,000 feet of river, gives us a place where we know people are going to enjoy a little bit more of a hike, and it's got some other climbing opportunities associated with it, as well." He adds, "The steady growth that we've seen at the park for the last 5 years is showing no signs of abating, so we know we have to plan for growth, and we know we've got to manage the landscape so it can endure that growth."
The State Parks Oversight Commission is expected to make a decision about acquiring the land at their meeting next week.