Wyden helped make Crooked River Ranch safer
I would like to thank Sen. Wyden and his fellow Energy and Natural Resources Committee members for reintroducing the Lands Package Bill back into the legislative process. Sen. Wyden has in fact kept his promise: the fully bipartisan bill does include improved BLM protections to help safeguard Crooked River Ranch from the effects of a catastrophic wildfire. Senate Bill 47 can be found here: www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/bipartisan-l. The text of the specifics related to Crooked River Ranch can be found in the text of the bill on page 74, Section 1108, titled "Deschutes Canyon-Steelhead Falls Wilderness Study Area Boundary Adjustment, Oregon."
Sen. Wyden and his committee have created a great balance in releasing the acreage acres that abuts Crooked River Ranch from a wilderness study area to allow more aggressive hazardous fuels treatments. These lands will now actually be managed for forest health and wildfire resiliency.
This was truly bipartisan in that on Feb. 12, this bill was passed in the Senate by a 92 (in favor) to 8 (opposed) vote. I would believe all of us in the region thanking Sen. Wyden and the committee he is a part of for continuing to press this forward would be very appreciated — because honestly, without them picking up this bill again, it could have been back to the drawing board for the Ranch and one more item of fire safety concern for all of Central Oregon. Now it goes to the House of Representatives for approval!
Make Madras a place to stop and enjoy
I see that the downtown business group is gearing up for the future. I don't know who all is involved, but I have an idea to pass on. I am throwing this out to the people that I know that have been involved in local things like this.
Not too long ago, Bing and I went over and had lunch at Tiger Town Brewing in Mitchell, which is a lovely little brew pub and restaurant that is doing quite well in there. We were talking to one of the owners that we are acquainted with. He was telling us that U.S. 26 is one of the most popular cross country routes in the country for bicyclists and motorcyclists. There are 17,000 bicyclists and 15,000 motorcyclists that travel it every year, because it is fairly wide, with wide shoulders, with less car traffic, and very scenic!
Mitchell is slowing them down with a cyclists' hostel, several nice B&Bs, the brew pub ... along with side tours up into the Ochocos, over to the Painted Hills and John Day ... We haven't seen Mitchell look so prosperous in years.
The guys that own and run the brew pub are all local, two of them for several generations. These same people from all over the world come through Madras and Jefferson County. We need to figure out a way to slow them down here. I'm not sure what it should be, but these are not people looking for fast food in their hurry to get some place else. I'm not sure what or where it should be, but these folks like quiet, relaxed things and places to go.
When we were at the pub, they said they sold over 1,000 T-shirts last year to people from all over the world that were passing through. You might even be able to coordinate something with the folks at Tiger Town and the Broken Spoke Hostel that is in one of the old churches on the downtown loop.
Madras is probably about a day's ride from Mitchell. I am just throwing this out, so maybe by summer, something could be in the works. I can't do all the planning and leg work, but I can throw out ideas. My heart is in it, and I am willing to help all I can.
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