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Bull Springs tree farm owners temporarily ban motor vehicles to curb fire risk

Surge in traffic prompts move; hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders still welcome on property

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With much of federal and state lands closed in response to the coronavirus, the Bull Springs Skyline Forest tree farm northwest of Bend has gone from a somewhat secret recreational area to a popular stomping ground. At least, that's how the land’s property manager described it.

Chris Johnson has been looking after the land since 1993. He told NewsChannel 21 Thursday he's never seen this amount of traffic before.

Typically, Johnson said, there might be one or two cars in the area on an average morning. Over the last month, though, he said there are now between 50 and 60 cars.

The city of Bend tweeted Thursday the National Drought Mitigation Center says Deschutes County has ‘moderate to severe drought conditions.’

So Shanda Group Limited, which owns the 33,000 acres of land where the tree farm is located, is making a temporary policy change -- no more motorized vehicles.

"We really do welcome people to make full use of the land. It is something very genuine for us,” said Jason Reindorp, Shanda Group’s head of communications. “We just really would like people to use common sense and avoid any risk of sparking a fire."

People like Reindorp are all too familiar with the damage a fire can cause in this dry climate, as the tree farm is part of the area still recovering from the Two Bulls Fire in 2014, which burned nearly 7,000 acres.

While motorized vehicles will not be allowed, Reindorp said hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders can continue enjoying the property.

"At the same time, we would ask that people still respect the physical distancing guidelines and the mask-wearing guidelines that the government has implemented during this very strange time that we're in," Reindorp said.

This temporary policy goes into effect early next week. There will not be a penalty or fine issued to people who violate the rule, but Reindorp said law enforcement is aware of the change and will help police the area.

Bend / Coronavirus / Deschutes County / Fire / Top Stories
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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

Comments

9 Comments

  1. What I would like to know is if this conditional closure is because of fire danger are all-electric motorized vehicles exempt?

      1. It IS private property Never been a problem till all you califorians moved here and stated to trash it like everywhere you go!Just anther place on a long list of areas that has been destroyed because of people moving here.And you wonder why your hated

        1. And it still isn’t a problem as long as everyone follows the property owner’s rules. In this case it’s no motorized vehicles for the time being. The restrictions sound pretty reasonable to me, given the property owner’s concern. Maybe you could just climb out of your big truck and get a little exercise if you want to enjoy the outdoors.

  2. Since the land’s primary owner is a Chinese held company I’m surprised it isn’t completely fenced off with zero accessibility. But on the other hand if our debt to the CCP is to be forgiven along with assets owned. I’d be in favor of donating Bull Springs to Land Trust.

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