Douglas County commissioners say they will back off on a plan to log 20 acres in Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park and give park supporters time to raise money for a campground.
Although the issue was not on the agenda and no formal action was taken, commissioners talked Wednesday about delaying the timber harvest, which could finance a fee-generating campground to make the park self-sufficient.
Commissioners Doug Robertson and Susan Morgan said they favor giving logging opponents a chance to raise half of the $130,000 needed.
In an interview, Robertson said he wants to give logging opponents six months to raise the $65,000. The county could match that with funds remaining in a trust set up after the death of rancher Mildred Kanipe, who willed her 1,100-acre farm northeast of Oakland to the county in 1983.
“Let’s see if we can form a partnership, instead of being antagonists. I think we owe it to them really to give them a chance to do it,” Robertson said.
Morgan said today she wants an agreement reached by February on how much money park supporters must raise and how soon.
“If we can make that agreement before the end of February, we will take the timber sale off the table until we see the outcome of the fundraising campaign,” Morgan said.
A timber sale would need to be advertised in late February or early March for logging in the summer, she said.
Morgan said she wants to work with members of the Friends of Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park who last week urged commissioners to hold off on cutting trees.
“If the park is going to be successful, we have to make sure the park is attractive to people, so they will want to come there,” she said. “My take on this thing is to take advantage of that energy and initiative that’s been shown by the Friends of Kanipe to fund raise to build that campground.”
Friends of Kanipe founder Lois Eagleton said she is optimistic logging opponents and the county will reach an agreement and avert a clear-cut.
“We’re very glad that there’s a crack in the door. I certainly hope that we can bury the hatchet and work together,” Eagleton said today.
She said she believes park supporters can raise the funds within six months and said they have raised about half the amount already.
Logging remains plan B. Robertson and Morgan said the parcel should be logged if insufficient private funds are raised.
Morgan said the reduction in timber safety net funding means the parks department must become self-sufficient. The Kanipe trust fund has dwindled to the point it can only pay for the park’s routine maintenance for another year or two, she said.
“We’ve got to do something, so we don’t have to put county funds into it instead of public safety,” Morgan said.
Although Robertson wants to give park supporters time to raise the funds, he said he is not opposed to logging in the park and does not believe Mildred Kanipe would have been, either.
Still, he said he believes she would have been happy the county will compromise with park users.
“I think she would be very pleased to see partnership, as opposed to the rancor that’s occurred over the last six or eight months. It’s been very contentious,” Robertson said.
Robertson said the issue was not on Wednesday’s agenda because commissioners were not ready to take action.
Robertson said he was concerned that placing the issue on the agenda for a second week in a row would create another lengthy round of public comments.
“We didn’t need to do that. I think we’d heard everything. What they needed to hear was something back from us: Are you going to cut it or not?”
Efforts to reach Commissioner Joe Laurance today were not successful.
• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.