Home Opinion Guest Columns Mt. Emily Rec Area - Information about proposed purchase, management
Mt. Emily Rec Area - Information about proposed purchase, management
The Union County Board of Commissioners is asking Union County voters whether they support pursuing the purchase of 3,669 acres commonly referred to as the Mount Emily Recreation Area (MERA). As part of the continuing effort to explain the proposed purchase, the following information is provided to educate county voters on what the purchase includes and how the property is proposed to be managed if purchased.
• If a majority of voters agree and all tasks can be accomplished, Union County will purchase from Forest Capital Partners the MERA including the 3,669 acres of land, all of the trees, mineral and grazing rights, water rights, etc.
• The actual purchase price for MERA will be the “fair market value” as determined from a certified “yellow book” appraisal, which was funded by the Mt. Emily Recreation Coalition ($12,000) at no cost to Union County. The appraisal is now complete and values the land and timber at $7,398,000.
• The County is proposing to fund the acquisition of the Mount Emily Recreation Area as follows:
Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department: ATV Grant request ($4,402,588). The ATV Advisory Committee met April 18 and voted to recommend approval of this grant.
Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department: a Local Government Grant request for $926,948. This grant was submitted on April 2, and will be reviewed by a Local Government Advisory Committee on June 10.
Collectively, the two grants are expected to fund the acquisition of 3,669 acres and one-third of today’s commercial timber value.
The remaining two-thirds of today’s commercial timber value ($2,068,960) would be financed through a philanthropic organization and repaid from implementation of a timber harvest plan.
The philanthropic organization will secure the financing with timber value and the liability for timber productivity. Even if the trees all died or burned, or the timber sale is appealed (all very unlikely scenarios), the county would be under no obligation or risk from the loan. In other words, there would be no recourse to the county for repayment of the loan.
• Union County will set up two advisory committees to direct management of the property. The committees will be primarily divided between motorized and nonmotorized users. Other members will include resource management representatives.
• The Advisory Committees will prepare a Comprehensive Management Plan, similar to the existing Feasibility Study, to cover all aspects of managing the Mount Emily Recreation Area. The Management Plan will be reviewed by the county, and once approved, implemented by the advisory committees.
• Separate recreation areas will be provided for motorized users (west of the ridge) and non-motorized users (lower east portion). Non-motorized users will be able to use the motorized area; however, management will focus on motorized uses.
• Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be represented on both advisory committees and provide assistance with mitigating conflicts to a peregrine falcon nest, and deer and elk winter range.
• Hunting will be allowed in accordance with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife rules and regulations.
• Seasonal livestock grazing will be allowed and will be managed on a sustainable basis.
• Sustainable timber resource management practices will be implemented throughout the property.