Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park supporters asked Friday for two years to raise $127,000 for a campground to avoid having to log 20 acres in the park to collect the money.
The Douglas County Park Advisory Board gave no guarantees, but the board voted unanimously to indefinitely table the logging plan.
Mildred Kanipe willed her 1,100 acre ranch northeast of Oakland to Douglas County for a park when she died in 1983. Since then, the park’s trust fund has dwindled, and a planning committee appointed by the parks board recommended an equestrian campground to make the park self-sustaining.
The committee also recommended a 20-acre timber harvest on the north edge of the park to raise the money for the campground.
While the campground plan has been popular, the proposed timber harvest has generated bitter controversy among park users.
The parks board narrowly rejected the timber harvest last month by a 4 to 3 vote and Friday’s decision did not change that.
Still, just as they had at the prior meeting, about 40 park supporters packed into a small meeting room in the Douglas County Courthouse. Most spoke against the clear cut or recommended alternatives.
Members of a new group, Keep Kanipe Park a Park, asked the board to consider seeking a state grant to build the campground or transfer ownership to the state. Group members say both options are preferable to a timber harvest.
“We love Mildred Kanipe Park. We believe it has the potential to be a showcase destination in Douglas County,” a group spokeswoman, Debra Gray, said. “The big trees are part of what makes the Mildred Kanipe park so special.”
Umpqua Watersheds Director Kasey Hovik said his group supports the logging alternatives “100 percent” and hopes to use the park to educate children.
Cindy Haws said her group, the Umpqua Chapter of the Oregon Dressage Society, made a $500 contribution in support of a “no clear-cut option.” Haws said the park’s equestrian users value the forest’s beauty as part of their riding experience.
A few audience members spoke in favor of cutting the trees.
David Monett, owner of Monett Logging in Oakland, said the timber in question is overripe and rotting.
“It needs to be cut,” he said. “Then maybe we can start taking care of the park.”
Retired forester Bud Long said a decision against cutting the parcel when the park is short of funds would send a negative message to the community.
“In this case, you do have the resources, and I believe they ought to be used wisely,” he said.
Planning committee member Jill Talburt, who had voted with the majority for the cut, defended that position Friday. She said the logging would be on less than 2 percent of the park and was a necessary part of a broader plan to make the park self-sustaining.
“Mildred Kanipe is dying people. We have no money. We need to get money to do what we need to do,” Talburt said.
Park Board Chairman Lonnie Ferber said he was not willing to commit to the two-year delay requested by Keep Kanipe Park a Park, but that he won’t be ready to choose a plan until Douglas County Commissioner Doug Robertson finishes his own exploration into other funding options.
Robertson said Friday afternoon he wants to gather more information about the strategies proposed by Keep Kanipe Park a Park and about other grants and state funding possibilities.
He said logging the 20-acre parcel is still a real possibility.
“We’re not in a hurry to go log in the park, but on the other hand the amount of money in the endowment to support this park is diminishing so we’re going to have to do something at the end of the day to sustain the park,” Robertson said.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.