John Day Fossil Beds
Administrative History
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Chapter Five:

Land use actions

For the most part, none of the dealings with park neighbors over land use resulted in any difficulties for NPS management of the monument. Nevertheless, water, land partitioning, and road location issues had potential to establish compelling precedents. By the same token, congenial resolutions to these questions can create goodwill between the NPS and land owners located within and adjacent to the monument. One example centered on a water well that the NPS drilled at Clarno in 1982. [34] A water shortage at Camp Hancock in 1988 brought about an agreement whereby the NPS shared its water, though this came with one stipulation. In granting the camp a 20 foot right of way for its water lines, the NPS reserved priority usage for its picnic area should those facilities expand. [35]

In recognizing water availability as a limiting factor for park facilities, Superintendent Ladd took care to have all of the monument's springs inventoried in 1978. [36] Over the following 15 years, only one situation involving a park neighbor's use of a spring located on federal land within the monument arose. [37] An adjacent landowner, Frank Asher, successfully quieted title on an easement in 1989 that allowed him to construct a waterline from some springs located south of the Foree picnic area. [38]

Asher's acquisition of the easement came after he successfully petitioned in 1987 for part of his sheep and cattle ranch to be rezoned for development of a recreational vehicle campground . [39] The NPS supported Asher's application for the campground because it had the potential to provide overnight facilities desired by park visitors. [40] Given the absence of any such NPS development in the Sheep Rock Unit as projected in the GMP, Ladd could welcome a 20 unit campground located just outside the monument's authorized boundaries. [41]

Ladd did not, however, support the partitioning of similarly situated private land in the Clarno Unit. In that instance, the application arose from a landowner's desire to move a house trailer onto a 20 acre parcel zoned for exclusive farm use. [42] The NPS objected to any compromise of the monument's scenic quality, especially since the tract's location along State Highway 218 is within a half mile of the Clarno Palisades and picnic area. [43] After unsuccessful applications in 1985 and 1987, the landowner brought up the possibility of working out a land exchange with the NPS but with no immediate results. [44]

No road location issues have yet surfaced at Clarno, though moving an existing route at Painted Hills remains a long-term prospect. This will only occur if the water impoundment built by Brooks Resources reaches such a height where it inundates an access road to a neighboring ranch. [45] Since the company agreed to construct a new road on private land at its expense, Ladd assured the affected landowner in 1983 that no plans existed to move the existing route or even consider such a relocation. [46]

The state's proposed rerouting of US 26 to the south of Picture Gorge, however, represents potential impact on important fossil resources. [47] Preliminary talks among state highway officials, county representatives, and the NPS took place in March 1993 about an alternative whose implementation might affect exposures in the Mascall and Rattlesnake formations. The group acknowledged that if a new route through the Sheep Rock Unit is considered, then at least one alternative outside the monument has to be presented with justification provided as to the reasonable and prudent purposes for going through the park. [48] At that point county representatives willingly backed the NPS position on project alternatives, but urged monument staff to clearly express their views to the state. [49]

A more benign project from a NPS standpoint involves a realignment of State Highway 19 near Cathedral Rock. This proposal first surfaced in 1991 and involves a new route to eliminate congestion caused by pedestrians and vehicles on a blind corner. Ladd supported the idea, something which may allow the NPS to develop a wayside exhibit near Cathedral Rock once it obtains a portion of the abandoned highway for access to the viewing area. [50]

End of Chapter 5

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Last Updated: 30-Apr-2002