WASHINGTON - Recognizing that legitimate concerns have been raised about public access, Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said Wednesday they have asked affected landowners to provide road access to the proposed Cathedral Rock wilderness area.
Wyden plans to re-introduce the Cathedral Rock-Horse Heaven wilderness bill this week, with Merkley as a co-sponsor.
"We are planning on re-introducing the legislation and will continue to advance it. as we still believe it provides great public benefits over the current situation," Wyden and Merkley wrote in a letter to Young Life and Cherry Creek Ranch, the two private landowners most affected by the proposed legislation.
"However, we feel that legitimate concerns have been raised about seasonal access and would like to work with you to seek a solution," the senators wrote.
Most of the proposed wilderness area is in Jefferson County.
The senators said that while the proposed wilderness will consolidate ownership in the area, ease land management issues, provide increased access and address the area's long history of trespass and safety concerns raised by the private landowners, resolution of the road issue could lead to the development of a safe entry point by land for the public.
"Staff has reached out to the Jefferson County Commissioners to try to identify a resolution," Wyden and Merkley wrote. "We now are asking you – as the landowners of the properties that will ultimately become the federal estate – to work with use to provide seasonal roaded access to Cathedral Rock."