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Landowner’s new gates close public access on road west of Bend; USFS seeks reopening

(Update: Adding video, comments)

'The property owner is misinforming the public,' Deschutes County road official says

BEND, Or. (KTVZ) -- A section of Brooks-Scanlon Road (Forest Service Road 4606) running through private property north of Bull Springs Road, west of Bend, was closed to the public Monday with newly installed gates.

The landowner claims vandalism, theft, arson and poaching have been a continuous problem over the years.

He says road 4606 is a private road located on private property where the Forest Service has an easement.

The landowner added that the Forest Service is responsible for their share of road maintenance costs proportional with their usage, but there are many days when hundreds and sometimes 1,000-plus vehicles use the private road.

According to the landowner's son, James Verheyden, the move is in line with a 2004 Deschutes County decision which allowed other gates further down the road.

But Deschutes County Road Department Director Chris Doty says that's not the case.

"The property owner is misinforming the public as to what's requiring those gates to be there," Doty said Monday. "It's not a county land-use decision from 2004."

Doty says the gates involved in that 2004 decision are a separate issue.

"Those gates were installed, those gates are a mile or two down the road from the gates that were just recently installed by the landowners, and now closed," Doty said.

And although the new gates were installed on private property, it's within an area the Forest Service claims to hold an easement for public use.

The Bull Springs area is popular with hikers, runners, and bikers.

A Deschutes National Forest representative says they are aware of the gates being installed by private landowners, but they do value public access, so they're trying to work with the landowners to resolve this issue.

Public Affairs Officer Jean Nelson-Dean says they're addressing the situation.

"We had been working with the private landowner to keep those gates open and he had done that," Nelson-Dean said Monday. "And now he has closed them, so we will continue moving forward as best as we can."

The Forest Service had requested that the property owner leave the gates open until a resolution had been met, but that didn't happen.

"We are seeking that the road is reopened," Nelson-Dean said.

What their next step will be is unclear.

Bend / Deschutes County / Government-politics / Local News / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

Comments

95 Comments

    1. Or a private land owner is just tired of the public plowing through his land and making a mess. Would be nice to have a map link to the area in question versus a general “west of Bend”. That is a pretty big area.

          1. According to the fire report it was started when a burn pile didnt get put out properly. My cousin and I were in the area looking for a yard sale when it happened. It turned into something pretty big pretty fast due to the wind blowing.

        1. “The road” as broad speech is in error . The road is public where it travels through public lands (see a map) and private where it travels through private lands. FACTS BEFORE PITCHFORKS PEOPLE
          Go to DIAL and put on public lands overlay. Public people play on public land accessed by public roads. Isn’t that easy?

          1. Look at DNF travel maps. Look at Section 22, which is where the disputed gates are. Between two segments of #4606 is a line Other Public Road.
            .
            Not to mention there is easement for USFS purposes, which includes public access.
            .
            You’re right, it’s very easy to see the gates are illegal.

        1. I take it you were not here when Blue lake was “bought” via restricting the main access road to it. I would say all those that talk “make your own social media sites Repubs” well buy the access roads yourself. Or at least be consistent in your complaining. No worries though, you can still get to blue lake if you are connected to the liberal elite by being allowed access to in the forms of artistic retreats.

        2. It’s a public road that now ends at his PRIVATE PROPERTY. In case sandyjim missed to much school here you go BOY. private property
          noun
          land or belongings owned by a person or group and kept for their exclusive use!

        3. Except the gates are located on a private section of road. Everyone acknowledges this. Please keep up. There are bad poor people and bad wealthy people. Same for good. It is irrelevant, ignorant, and divisive to mention financial status.

          1. Incorrect. Disputed segment is labeled Other Public Road on DNF travel map and links two segments of #4606 Road in Section 22. Also USFS easement gives public right to use road to access public lands.

      1. It’s right past Shevlin park. I own land and am well aware of some members of the public making a mess along the frontages. It comes with the territory. Land ownership is a responsibility.

        1. YES! That is why we read our easements and responsibilities before purchasing and hold those liable for damages accountable. The Forest Service allowed the public use to damage private lands and has failed to pay their bill.

    2. You could be considered greedy to a person living in a hut in Africa. I recently met an islander who said their island chose not to have power because people would get freezers and then not share their fish they cought that day. Makes you think. Where are we judging from?

  1. Can’t blame him, I’d do the same thing. It’s only a matter of time before somebody starts a fire on his land, gets injured or dies. Then he’ll be liable for it.

  2. Not surprising. This old CP land used to be kind of a hidden gem for the locals. Unfortunately, with the Rona hitting last year and so many folks getting the “lets go out and hike since I can’t sit on a patio and drink” syndrome this area has gotten completely overwhelmed with users. Not sure if anyone has been in the area off couch road after the mountain bike events they hold there but they leave all kinds of streamers and signage that just turns to trash. Too bad but understandable.

  3. Funny that comments talk about reducing the risk of fire in Bull Springs since the the March 29, 2021 Bull Springs fire was started on James Verheyden’s property from an unextringuished burn.

      1. and the Indians were using it hundreds of years before your S#$%y A$$ claimed it get yourself we all know you’r from California Mr. LOCO.

        1. Doubtful Indians were using it as #4606 road is an old roadbed from a logging railroad. Not the typical byproduct or artifact of hunter-gather societies. 🙄

          1. It’s too much fun not to lol (I was born here and yes growth sucks).My answer is California, your from California, go back to your **** hole. We have our own born and raised dip ***** that are ruining it just as bad as the crazy growth of this town is.

            1. Everybody should go back to where they were born and stay there?

              I was born in the United States of America and will live in any part of it I damn well please.

          1. I have, after grabbing some drinks at the 3 boys market on the dirt, Newport Ave and I have been on many private roads (private property) on the way through to other public property. Whether or not this is their property to control or not, I guess that is still up in the air. I am saying that just because you “thought” the entire stretch was public does not make it so. As referred to above in another post, this same thing happened when the Resort at Blue lake was bought, they shut down the public access to the lake on “their road” if you want to enjoy the lake that they do not own? (but kind of do via limited access) you have to hike to the backside of it now…….the argument “one has been using it for 40 years” does not make it public.

    1. That’s only if he’s a railroad or irrigation canal owner. Common property ownership can have public right of ways and easements with priority.

    2. …except that if that road segment does have an easement to the Forest Service from the old Brooks and Scanlon days (which he acknowledges it does), the road is not his to close. The easement is attached to the land and not to a given owner.

      1. Everyone cites the easement. Has anyone read the entire easement before commenting? I did. After stating the FS can choose to give access to the public, it goes on to state that whoever is responsible for any and all damages will be financially responsible and has 30 days to rectify. It also includes statements to the effect that the Forest Service can not do anything that inhibits the landowners use or unfairly burdens the homeowners. Shortly after the Bull Springs Rd dedication, there were on average 15 cars a day traveling this road. Now that we’ve become Oregonifornia there are days over 1000 cars travel this stretch. I counted. The Forest Service has chosen to allow the public to damage upwards of 1 million dollars of the landowners private property and has failed to allocate any funds for repair in violation of the easement. Ask them how much they have spent. Personal accountability before entitlement. Our community needs positive solution contributions before negative mudslinging. FACTS BEFORE PITCHFORKS

    1. I joined the ironworkers at 18.bought my first house on the west side when I was 24 I bought the acreage on the east side that I live on now when I was 28.I GOT what you wish you had.retired at 50.sandman comes from the name of my $80,000 sand rail.And when my friends were racking up college debt. I was going helisking in british columbia and going to fiji so kiss my oregon ass.

      1. Lmao sandycrotch you are like a trout to a worm, I retired at 42 own my house went to college have a fire science degree with no dept,trailer of snowmobiles and motorcycles oh yea boat and my travels climbed Mt. Everest, might as well lived in Bali, bushed camped 85% of Australia Fiji it’s ok but I can tell you all about Tahiti so kiss my Oregon ass! But damm you have a $80,000 sand rail that is sweet!

  4. This is going to involve lots of lawyers. It would be interesting to see what kind of easements are involved, and how that road was originally built, and who has maintained it. Lots of similar cases all over the west.

  5. The other private property in the vicinity has periodically only closed to motorized vehicles and justifiably so. It would be nice if the land owner in this story only did the same.

  6. Perhaps none of you have heard of the Jim Waibel who married the heir to the Les Schwab holdings and did the same thing. He then built an extremely dangerous “public” road at the edge of the tiny bit of property he claimed people trashed with poaching and garbage.
    Crook County figured it out. We can now access the safe FS road since he moved away. An easement allows public use of the forest service road. I have been responsible for a private road that was traveled by the public. The man that hit my dog, costing about $2000, was not even a resident.
    Our forests are too important to many of us for a selfish person to lock it up. Goddess help the Verheydens when their land burns and trucks can not get through.

  7. I feel for the guys if their land is getting trashed, but anyone that buys a chunk of property like that is familiar with easements and historical use. Locking the public out of their land is unacceptable.

  8. looking at the maps on onXmaos, this guy also owns land that Saddleback runs through, will he be shutting that off as well? Nice pond at 44.10247 -121.40534. onXmaps also shows the property runs beside the road, all 750 acres of it.

  9. These people obviously have more money than they can handle. They’re in over their heads with the responsibility of a piece of land this size close to a populated area.

    1. What does someone’s money status have to do with easement law facts? Everyone in America is rich compared to a person in Africa. Each human has a right to protect their private property regardless of how you label and separate.

      1. If they didn’t have the money to buy the land, they wouldn’t have the problems of maintaining or securing the land. Especially a property with so much exposure.

  10. Actually, the county does not care about people gating off public lands and even building structures and farming county lands. A case in point is 0.25 miles north of Fort Thomas Lane on the west side of Highway 97 is a driveway gating off all the county lands there, 498 acres, part of which the landowners to the west have fenced off, farmed, and have structures built on, with no complaints from the county either. Maybe the USFS will enforce their easement through to public lands, maybe not, only time will tell.

    1. Everyone cites the easement. Has anyone read the entire easement before commenting? I did. After stating the FS can choose to give access to the public, it goes on to state that whoever is responsible for any and all damages will be financially responsible and has 30 days to rectify. It also includes statements to the effect that the Forest Service can not do anything that inhibits the landowners use or unfairly burdens the homeowners. Shortly after the Bull Springs Rd dedication, there were on average 15 cars a day traveling this road. Now that we’ve become Oregonifornia there are days over 1000 cars travel this stretch. I counted. The Forest Service has chosen to allow the public to damage upwards of 1 million dollars of the landowners private property and has failed to allocate any funds for repair in violation of the easement. Ask them how much they have spent. Personal accountability before entitlement. Our community needs positive solution contributions before negative mudslinging. FACTS BEFORE PITCHFORKS So again, for the slow folks. Road is privately owned. Public lands have even closer public access.

  11. This is all too typical of “California think” – which is an absolute plague. The wealthy rule the land and woe unto those simple peasants that dare tread near the mansions of their lords and masters.

    Tom McCall is turning in his grave just now.

  12. Bottom line is this. With increased growth comes more stupid people who have complete lack of respect for property whether private or public. I think it’s great that the private owner finally took a stand to a problem that apparently has gone unchecked and most likely they got a response from the county or city stating “We don’t have the resources to monitor it” . Look at the new empire crossing in the NE area of Bend . Lots of graffiti constantly. And it’s only been open for a short time. Lots of break ins of cars lately. Good for the property owner. I hope it remains. Maybe he can open it from 7am to 7 pm.

    1. The ethos of people visiting and moving here is a problem. Oregon has long had a pack it in, pack it out mentality. Lots of new folks don’t seem to have that morality. I get the owners of the land being pissed. However,I suspect this has more to do with developing the property vs. peoples trash. I would imagine this is testing the waters to see if they can get away with effectively locking up an bunch of public land, and using it as a selling point to folks that will be buying into it. The privitization of public land can’t go unchecked. That said, the govt needs to be a good neighbor and take care of their easement. Realistically, the users should be taking care of trash etc. If its the mountain bikers, they should plan some clean up days. Same if its the horse people etc….

  13. WOW ! Look at all these comments ! I’m rooting for the landowner who has been patient enough all these years and has finally had it with the trespassing and destruction. I have the exact same situation and watch cars/trucks/ ATVs and motorcycles blow by the “Closed to Motor Vehicles” signs posted by the BLM/USFS . These “recreationists” tear up the road -which we maintain with our own labor and resources to keep it passable as it’s “our” driveway to our home. They throw trash, poach, leave un-extinguished campfires and you-name-it. If folks were respectful, responsible and careful in how they use these roads the issue would never have come up. You can’t foul your own nest and then complain that it’s messed up. And certainly don’t expect others to keep cleaning up after you indefinitely. Grow up and you’ll have more fun!

    1. All of your complaints are valid and they all involve motorized vehicles. If you look at the Phil’s Trail area, you’ll find nearly zero problems occurring outside the motorized portions. The logical first step would have been gates and signage prohibiting the obvious machines that destroy the roads, leave a swirling contrail of dust, have hot motors and exhaust systems (sometimes without mufflers) and a payload capacity enough for poachers and their equipment.

    2. Patient enough all these years huh? Just how long you think they have owned all of this land? Lots of interesting info available on the Deschutes county DIAL website. just enter a name and search away.

  14. The FS spokeslady sounded pretty milquetoasty in her response to all this, as if she did not feel they had a strong legal position, but were hoping the good doc would play nice. That’s just my impression, of course.

  15. If the road accesses public lands, why can’t we (USFS) help him build a fence that keeps his lands private, but allows access through it? Seems like a potential compromise?

  16. Lol I guess everyone forgot about Teaters road on Waibels property. Same thing except the nature conservancy was nice enough to donate their land for the “new” road.

  17. The USFS will do nothing, less work for them to do on that end of the forest and yet the employees will still get paid full rate. Slackers.

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