Local News

Camps Will Remain During China Hat Reconstruction

BEND, OR -- Deschutes National Forest officials now say reconstructing three and a half miles of China Hat Road will not require the relocation of area homeless encampments. Work is expected to stretch from June until October. While the road will close to vehicle traffic between the Forest boundary and Bessie Butte Road during that time, camps will be allowed to remain. Forest Service staff and its partners plan to work with campers in advance, to make sure they aren't cut off.

In the Cabin Butte Project area, ongoing hazardous fuels reduction efforts may force the relocation of camps in that section of forest over the next several years.

Congressman Cliff Bentz met recently with homeowners in the China Hat area and says he wants to evict those camps. "How in the world do we prompt the Forest Service to do the right thing and have those people removed and moved into places that do exist for them to live in? Without appropriate leverage, that’s not going to happen. Those people are going to stay there. They’re staying there because they want to stay there. It’s not legal, they shouldn’t be there and the question is: who are we going to get to enforce the law?"

The Oregon Republican says he’s looking for alternative solutions, "Working out some sort of management arrangement with the Forest Service. There’s different levels of co-management or just delegation of management." Bentz adds, "We’re already reaching out to folks in that Forest Service space because somehow, if they’re not going to manage that land appropriately, then we’re going to find someone who can. And we’re going to take care of it."

Bentz tells KBND News, "The Forest Service has not been able to deal with that situation in a way that’s satisfactory to anyone. And the challenge to the neighbors that I met with and tried to address the issue is: How in the world do we manage these two or three or 400 people that are living right across from China Hat Road from people that have houses and homes?"

KBND's full interview with Congressman Cliff Bentz airs Friday morning at 8:40. 


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