(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.