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Rock chucks causing problems for Bend cemetery visitors, staff


Some visitors at Bend’s Pilot Butte Cemetery are saying there’s an infestation at the city-owned grave site.

“There are gophers everywhere. They’re breeding, and like that hole in there, they’re going into those people’s grave right there,” Redmond resident Darcy Lindelli said Wednesday.

Lindelli said when she went to visit family graves a few days ago, she was shocked by the sight.

“When I got here, they were running everywhere,” she said. “It was really disturbing, and then I saw feces on my grandparent’s graves, and it was upsetting.”

According to Lindelli, she and her grandmother both reached out to the city about the problem.

“I called the number on the website for the Pilot Butte Cemetery — well, I gave it to her and she called, and they told her that she was calling the wrong place. So she called me back and told me I gave her the wrong number, and then I gave her a couple more numbers, and she was upset because no one was answering,” she said.

Lindelli said she wasn’t sure which department they called, but that they did call the city directly.

Bend’s Streets and Operations Department maintains the cemetery. Department Director David Abbas said they are aware of the problem and trying to resolve it.

“We know it’s an issue that we’re working to resolve,” Abbas said. “The cemetery is an extremely tight budget for maintenance of the whole cemetery site” of 40 acres, 14 of which is developed, according to the city’s website on the more than century-old cemetery.

He said the 40-acre piece of property is maintained by only one full-time employee, with some additional seasonal help.

Lindelli said she’s never seen it this bad.

“When we got here, it was so covered in feces that it looked like we were in Drake Park,” she said, “and we were literally walking around trying not to step on it.”

Despite the limited budget, Abbas said the department has been discussing the issue and has a plan.

“It’s one of those things where some folks don’t agree with the extermination of them, so the program is meant to try to capture them and relocate them,” he said.

Lindelli said in addition to removing the rock chucks, she wants to be able to reach city officials with concerns.

“I just think that they need to answer people’s phone calls. These are our loved ones, and how would they feel if it was their grandparents? Their great grandparents?” she asked.

Abbas has reached out to Lindelli, and said he’ll look into unresponsiveness on the city’s part, but does not yet know if they were calling the right place.
The number to call with concerns is (541) 317-3000.

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