OAKLAND — A proposal to cut 20 acres of timber to pay for an equestrian-friendly campground at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park has drawn fire from a group of park supporters, who hope to raise the money through private donations instead.
Proponents of the timber harvest say it makes sense to use the park’s resources to pay for improvements and that logging would not be visible to most park users.
Members of the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park took out a full-page advertisement in The News-Review Sunday seeking donations for the campground.
A member, Mike Burke of Oakland, said today several thousand dollars have already been pledged this week and an engineering firm has volunteered to design the camp.
The park, located about eight miles northeast of Oakland, was formed in 1983 after farmer Mildred Kanipe died and willed her land to Douglas County. The 1,100-acre park is popular with hikers and equestrians, but county Parks Director Gary Groth said the county needs the park to support itself financially. The county appointed an advisory committee in April to consider ways to accomplish that. Last month, the committee voted to recommend the 20-acre section be cut to fund a campground, which would collect fees to support the park.
The Douglas County Park Advisory Board will take up the issue at 9 a.m. Friday in Room 311 of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1036 S.E. Douglas Ave., in Roseburg. The board is expected to make a recommendation to county commissioners.
If the harvest plan is approved by commissioners, the timber would likely be sold in February, Groth said.
Burke said he expects many park supporters will turn out for Friday’s meeting.
“Last time the county tried to log there, it was standing room only in the court(house) room in protest,” Burke said.
Kanipe’s will specified logging was prohibited “except as necessary.” Some park supporters have suggested that means logging in emergencies only, while others say logging to pay for improvements should be allowed.
Groth said he does not believe the harvest would detract from the park’s appearance. About 360 of the park’s acres are covered in timber. In addition, Groth said the county would encourage growth of existing native white oak trees in the clearcut area.
“I think we’ve done about as well as we can so it would be as unobtrusive as possible,” Groth said.
The plan was approved 10-2 by the Douglas County Mildred Kanipe Planning Committee in September. Groth said the committee, appointed last April, had decided it would make no recommendation to the park board unless 80 percent agreement could be reached.
The chairman of the Douglas County Park Advisory Board, Lonnie Ferber, said he has not made up his mind on the issue.
Ferber said he was surprised the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park put forward its own plan.
“Up until a few days ago, I thought it was pretty well set the committee was going to recommend the sale and that was going to be the end of it,” Ferber said.
He said the board meets in a small room and usually has few audience members.
“We’re a pretty low-key type of a group, so that is kind of a new twist for us to have a bunch of people there,” he said.
Ferber said the value of the timber proposed to be cut is about $150,000.
After the planning committee recommended the cut, the Friends of Mildred Kanipe held an emergency meeting Sept. 28. According to the minutes of that meeting, two members of the Mildred Kanipe Planning Committee told the group they regretted voting in favor of logging and suggested instead applying for an Oregon Parks and Recreation County Opportunity Grant.
Groth said he would prefer to seek a grant for a county park that receives more use and does not have assets, like the timber at Mildred Kanipe.
“The whole idea of this (Mildred Kanipe Planning) committee was to make this park self-sufficient,” he said.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.