September 21, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Conservation group appeals Whychus plan

Sep 21, 2011

September 21, 2011 - Bend Bulletin - Conservation group appeals Whychus plan

Conservation group appeals Whychus plan

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin
Published: September 21. 2011 4:00AM PST

Creating an official trail system along Whychus Creek near Sisters may create new problems for the area, argues a Bend nonprofit group appealing a U.S. Forest Service plan.

“It’s just going to invite a lot more people in there,” said Paul Dewey, executive director and attorney for Central Oregon Landwatch.

The group filed its appeal Monday. The U.S. Forest Service has until early next month to set up a meeting with the group and then until early November to respond to the appeal.

Saying he’s been busy with the still-burning Shadow Lake Fire, Bill Anthony, Sisters District Ranger for the Deschutes National Forest, said Tuesday that he hadn’t had a chance to read the 19-page appeal.

But he did defend the Forest Service’s plan.

“We’ve taken a good, hard look at that area,” he said.

The current logging roads and trails along the creek south of Sisters have created a place where people drop trash, vandals spray-paint rocks, illegal campers hide and partiers gather for beer bashes, according to the Forest Service. The plan calls for ripping up roads off Three Creeks Road and formalizing the trail system to make the woods around the creek more inviting to hikers, bikers and others.

The trail system would have a trail three miles along the creek and a mile loop to an overlook.

While Dewey said Central Oregon Landwatch agrees that shutting down roads and building parking lots could help stop the dumping, camping and partying problems, the group doesn’t think the trail system is a good idea.

The trails would link to the Peterson Ridge Trail, which is popular with mountain bikers, and the Metolius-Windigo National Recreation Trail, which is popular among horseback riders, Dewey said.

The trail system would likely be highlighted in guidebooks, he said, and would likely draw crowds.

That’s a concern to Central Oregon Landwatch because the upper Whychus Creek was designated by Congress in 1988 as a Wild and Scenic River. Dewey said the Forest Service should focus on restoration along the creek and keeping use of the woods to daylight hours rather than increasing recreation.

“It is an area that is to be protected,” Dewey said.

Dylan J. Darling can be reached at 541-617-7812 or at ddarling@bendbulletin.com.

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