Last week’s wildfire at Crooked River Ranch reminded residents that the community is severely limited in its transportation choices --- there’s only one way in and one way out.
The Crooked Fire burned 300 acres in the
Following an investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, ranch resident Lane Ball, 52, was cited for reckless burning, a Class A misdemeanor. According to investigators, Balls burned debris on his property during the morning and thought he had put out the fire. He left the debris unattended and the fire flared up.
Crooked River Ranch lies on a triangle of land between the deep gorges of the
There is a second southern access, but it is an unimproved dirt road that crosses Bureau of Land Management property and comes out on
With smoke from the fire visible for miles traffic became a problem as residents tried to get home to retrieve animals and belongings and others tried to get a view of the fire.
“The limited ingress/egress is a problem,” said Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton. “It was compounded with so much traffic, and probably most were not residents, (they were) just people wanting to see the fire.”
The heavy traffic caused problems with getting equipment in over already narrow country roads, Blanton said. Many CRR residents ended up in vehicles backed up to Highway 97 trying to get home to get animals out, and in many cases tempers flared.
A second exit has been talked about for several years, but not seriously recently, Ferraro said, but he’s confident that will change in light of the recent fire.
A second entrance/exit is “certainly something that’s needed,” said George Trahern, treasurer of the ranch’s board. “We’re aware that we need one, but it’s something that’s not going to happen overnight.”
Trahern said he was encouraged to see that State Rep John Dallum, R-
Dallum suggested that the best route would pave Horny Hollow Trail and build a bridge to connect with
“The obvious route for a second access would be down Horny Hollow, which goes to the grasslands and if you continue to hike down that way you would get to Lake Billy Chinook,” he explained. “It would give us both north and south entrances. But getting the dollars and getting high priority is the problem.”
“(A bridge) is such an expensive project that we can’t afford it,” said Trahern, who put the price at “multi-million dollars” including the roads to reach a bridge.
Any improvements that involve a bridge would be very expensive, Bryant added.
Neither Ferraro nor Trahern lives in the area of the fire. Both live farther north.
While his home wasn’t threatened, Trahern, who lives about a half mile into
Frank Ferraro anticipates that the subject will be talked about at the board’s next meeting on June 18.
“It’s a high priority for the ranch. It gets talked about, but nothing gets done,” Ferraro said.
He hopes the current interest in building a second entrance/exit would be not just because of the fire, but because it’s needed, and that something gets done this time.
“People would be pretty stranded if something happened on the south end,” he said.
-- by Trish Pinkerton