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Crooked River Ranch will be able to move forward on an emergency exit plan, thanks to a BLM decision.

The Prineville District Bureau of Land Management has partnered with Crooked River Ranch residents and Deschutes County to develop an emergency exit route while maintaining recreational opportunities and supporting conservation as part of the agency's multiple-use mission.

"We've been working on it pretty actively since 2014," said Jeff Kitchens, field manager for the Prineville District BLM office.

The BLM has issued a final decision that will allow Deschutes County to construct a one-mile paved road across BLM-managed public land about five miles west of Terrebonne. The road will provide a motorized public access route for the Crooked River Ranch residential area, as well as provide a second exit in the event of an evacuation due to a wildfire.

The new route will run from Northwest Quail Road in CRR and travel southwest to connect with Lower Bridge Road. Deschutes County and the CRR Special Road District are currently pursuing grant options, and hope to begin construction this year, according to Lisa Clark, public affairs officers for the Prineville BLM.

The decision addresses the need for fences, gates, and signs, so the new road does not create safety issues or preclude any of the existing recreational uses around Lower Bridge Road. There will be some changes in the types of travel allowed on some routes in the area, and a few duplicate routes will be closed to reduce impacts to mule deer winter range. The changes will be posted on kiosks and other signs in and near CRR.

The BLM provided a public comment period on the proposed action last fall and again in May. Additional information is available by calling the BLM at 541-416-6700 or checking the project website, "Crooked River Ranch Alternate Exit" at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/nepa/nepa_register.do. 

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