Road closures on public land east of Redmond delayed

Move still planned, but county to 'take a pause'

BEND, Ore. - Just as notices were set to be posted, Deschutes County has postponed its plan to close of dirt roads and give 30 days notice for removal of any vehicles parked in a 2,200-acre public parcel east of Redmond, where homeless camps and illegal activity have been a persistent concern.

A “notice of road closure” shared Monday with NewsChannel 21, dated for a Wednesday posting, indicated that “on or about August 15th, the unimproved roads entering the property behind and along this sign ... will be closed to public vehicular access.”

“The closure will entail physical obstructions preventing vehicular access to/from the area in order to prevent continued illegal and adverse impacts to the land,” the notice states. “All vehicles currently parked in this area will need to be removed by August 15, 2017.”

The map shows a “closed area” north of Highway 126 and the Redmond Airport.

The notice said “the closure is a joint effort by the affected property owners, including Deschutes County, Central Oregon Irrigation District and Redmond School District.

County Property Manager James Lewis said Monday that the plan was “to start posting that on Wednesday, but we’re going to have a work session with the board of commissioners” on Wednesday instead.

“We’re going to take a pause and a step back, just for a minute, and work out a couple of issues,” Lewis said.

County Commissioner Tammy Baney said, "The notice may have been sent out prematurely," and said a discussion of the matter will take place at Wednesday's work session.’

The county owns about 2,000 of the 2,250 acres, and county commissioners discussed the issues with Redmond city councilors at a recent meeting.

Lewis said the land management plan in the works for the large parcel is not just about the homeless and their long-term camping on the site.

“There’s all kinds of illegal activities, from woodcutting to illegal dumping, degradation of the line, four-wheeling, a fire risk,” he said. “It’s not just the homeless. It’s an effort to manage that land, and ultimately there’ll be a cleanup of that property.”

Lewis also noted that Central Oregon Veterans Outreach and the Homeless Leadership Coalition are among the groups working with the property owners on a plan to address the issue over the past few months.

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