Your Public Neighbors
lmost 80% of Deschutes County is public land, most of which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service and State of Oregon. Many of these lands are adjacent to or intermingled with rural private properties, sometimes creating a confusing patchwork of land ownership. (See map inside front cover.) Much of the beautiful landscape that contributes to the quality of life in Central Oregon consists of public lands. These lands provide open space, recreation, wildlife habitat and natural resources that support local economies. Signs have been posted on many lands to remind people of their responsibilities in protecting natural resources. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) manages two parks with overnight camping in Deschutes County: Tumalo and La Pine. OPRD also manages several day use areas open to the public and oversees many activities in the Wild and Scenic River sections of the Deschutes River. The State also has parcels, usually one square mile in size, scattered throughout the county as a result of historical land trades. These lands are managed by the Department of State Lands (DSL), which contributes revenue generated by these lands to the Common School Fund. Some activities on public lands in Central Oregon, such as organized group functions, cutting firewood or collecting plants, may require a special-use permit from the appropriate agency.
Dumping garbage on public lands is illegal and costs taxpayers money to clean up!
Prescribed burning (i.e., controlled fires) is often used to reduce hazardous fuels that can carry wildfire and to restore historic plant communities and habitats. Controlled burns are usually conducted in the fall after the wildfire season. The Forest Service posts signs along roads when it is conducting a burn in the area. Thinning and commercial timber/firewood/biomass harvest help reduce risk of wildfire, restore historic vegetation, enhance wildlife habitat and promote natural functions and processes. Seeding native plant species helps restore natural ecosystems and reduce weeds. Controlling invasive plants through spraying or pulling. Managing livestock grazing through allotment management plans. Developing recreational facilities and opportunities, including campgrounds, trails and boating facilities. Some popular trails require permits even for day hikes. Some also require that dogs be leashed.
Be Informed and Get Involved
Find out what is happening on the public lands in your area. Ask to be included on mailing lists for land management activities. Attend public meetings, scoping sessions and other forums to participate in the management of your public lands.
What Types of Land Management Activities Should I Expect?
If you have not lived in this part of the country, you may not be aware of land-management activities that occur on neighboring public lands. These lands are actively managed to reduce the risk of wildfire, restore healthy ecosystems, protect rare plant and animal species and produce natural resource commodities such as timber and forage to promote economic stability within local communities and industries.
Deschutes County Rural Living Handbook