Gates are reopened on Teater's Road in Crook County by court order
Seven years after a portion of Teaters Road was closed to the public, the widely used road has been reopened following a new court order.
A federal district court issued an order on May 17, requiring Waibel Ranches to allow the public and the government the use of Teaters Road. The BLM Prineville District announced Wednesday that the gates blocking Teaters Road were opened that day and will remain open in line with the federal court's order.
Teaters Road provides a direct connection between Highway 380 north to the BLM North Fork Crooked River area and the Ochoco National Forest. BLM officials point out that these areas provide numerous recreational opportunities and are important for timber production. Teaters Road also provides the only public access to a 160-acre island parcel of BLM-administered public land.
About five miles of Teaters Road crosses Waibel Ranches, and in May 2015, the property owner closed access to that portion of the road due to consistent litter, poaching and trespassing problems. The BLM in response pushed to reopen the road, prompting an eventual agreement between the two parties that included construction of a new portion of road that would bypass the west end of the Waibel Ranches property.
Construction of the new road, which opened in August 2017, was facilitated by Waibel Ranches at their own expense. The property owner agreed to donate the road to Crook County, which would keep the road as a local access road going forward.
"Maintaining legal, public access to public lands is important to the BLM," said acting District Manager Mike Decker. "The court's order restores public access to well-loved recreation destinations and important timber production areas."
BLM officials note that the ability of the public to use Teaters Road will be welcome news for those affected by the temporary closure of the Forest Service 42 Road.
Prineville District officials expressed appreciation for the support the agency has received from both the public and many key partners throughout the effort to restore access to Teaters Road. Those partners include the United States Attorney's Office, Ochoco National Forest, Crook County Court, Oregon Hunters Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
"Protection of public access to our public lands is a top priority of the county court," said Crook County Judge Seth Crawford. "We appreciate all of the people who have worked so hard to reopen Teaters Road, especially our local BLM office."
BLM officials are urging the public to be respectful when using Teaters Road to access the federal public lands, stressing that it is bordered by private land owned by Waibel Ranches and members of the public should drive slowly and be mindful of the presence of cattle.
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