IDLEYLD PARK — Two longtime residents lauded for their efforts to preserve the North Umpqua River say it would be a bad idea for Douglas County to consider selling a park at the edge of the river’s Wild and Scenic section.
Frank and Jeanne Moore of Idleyld Park say they were troubled to learn the county is having the 215-acre timber parcel that contains Swiftwater County Park appraised for possible sale.
“This is one of the jewels of the county,” Frank Moore said. “To even think about selling it is criminal.”
Frank Moore, 90, has resided on the North Umpqua River since 1946, after returning from military service in World War II. He served as a river guide and built the Steamboat Inn, which has hosted steelhead anglers since the late 1950s.
“The river is one of the most fantastic places in the United States. People come from all over the world to see the river and fish on it,” he said.
Moore served two four-year terms on the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, was a four-year member of the Oregon State Water Board, belonged to the National Parks Angling Advisory Group and is a member of several fly fishing organizations. He has been recognized for his advocacy efforts with the National Wildlife Federation Sears Roebuck Foundation Conservationist of the Year Award in 1970, the Izaak Walton League Beaver Award for conservation and the Anders Award for wild trout management. He was named the International Federation of Fly Fishers Conservationist of the Year in 2003.
In 2006, the Moores were named Glide First Citizens for their work in preserving the North Umpqua River.
Frank Moore said he fears having the parcel’s trees cut down, destroying the beauty of the area. He also worries what effect private development could have on the river.
The park is located four miles east of Glide, off Highway 138 East. It is reached by crossing the Swiftwater Bridge, about 23 miles east of Roseburg. It features a covered pavilion, a barbecue pit, picnic area and restrooms. A smaller park by a similar name, Swiftwater wayside, is operated by the Bureau of Land Management on the north bank of the river.
No decision has been made on whether to sell the park, Douglas County Commissioner Doug Robertson said. It’s just one of a host of options the county is considering as it tries to make the Parks Department self-sufficient.
“We’re trying to identify what options we have,” Robertson said. “We’re looking at every possible way to keep our service levels sound, especially in public safety areas.”
Jeanne Moore said “it’s unbelievable” to think the county would even consider selling the park.
The only income the park generates is through $25 a day pavilion rentals. The money collected is minimal, Robertson said.
The Douglas County Park Advisory Board discussed Swiftwater Park during a meeting Feb. 15. Members were told that the property was being appraised and that the appraiser could suggest the best use for the property. It was also mentioned that the committee should consider whether adding recreational vehicle spaces might be appropriate.
Lonnie Ferber, the board’s chairman, said the county has directed the Parks Department, which currently receives $380,000 annually in general fund appropriations from the federal timber safety net, to begin moving toward self-sufficiency.
“To do that, Douglas County Parks is going to have to make changes. Everything is on the board,” he said.
The county owns several undeveloped parks that may need to be scrapped because there isn’t money available to develop and maintain them, he said. Over the last several years, the volunteer board has discussed whether to sell Pass Creek Park near Curtin.
“We’ve talked about Swiftwater and I can assure you no decision has been made,” Ferber said.
Max Yager, field manager for the Swiftwater area for the BLM, said the agency would be interested in buying the county’s Swiftwater parcel if it were put up for sale.
“It’s a really nice piece of real estate,” Yager said.
The North Umpqua Trail goes through the county property and the BLM has adjacent landholdings. The federally designated Wild and Scenic section of the river starts there and heads upriver. Angling in that area is restricted to fly-fishing.
Frank Moore said he would be satisfied if the BLM ended up buying the county’s land.
“That would be fine,” Moore said. “They have an appreciation of the river.”
• You can reach reporter John Sowell at 541-957-4209 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.