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Deschutes County drops three potential landfill sites proposed near airports; list now down to 7

(Update: Adding video, comments from solid waste director, commissioner, Bend residents)

But talks with BLM might add two more to the list

BEND, Ore (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County commissioners agreed Wednesday to remove three possible new landfill sites that would have been located near the Bend and Redmond airports, as the FAA and airport officials recommended. That brings the original list of 13 candidate sites down to seven.

Some county residents also have voiced concerns out protecting and preserving wildlife, potential losses in property value, and other possible commercial and residential uses near the new landfill site, when it's chosen.

Current FAA guidelines strongly recommend, but don't mandate, that county landfills not be placed within a 5-mile radius of an airport due to concerns over bird strikes and other environmental concerns.

One concerned resident, Brett of Preserve East Bend, a local group that opposes landfill sites on the Eastside of the city, said at Wednesday's meeting, "We're surrounded by high desert, 1,000-year-old junipers, rugged rock outcroppings, scores of wildlife such as eagles, elk, bobcat -- you name it.

"We have a bald eagle's nest, and I saw her two days ago, with its white head sticking out -- it was just beautiful. She's been there for awhile. That's what we have, that's what we're protecting."

County Commissioner Anthony Debone voted to remove from consideration the sites near both the Bend and Redmond airports, saying, "I support these ... being taken off (the list) at this time."

After a recent trip to Washington, D.C., Commissioner Phil Chang proposed adding some new sites to the list, likely increasing the number from its current tally.

Solid Waste Director Chad Centola added, "Commissioner Chang had met with federal congressional delegates to talk about maybe working with the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) more on possible sites we might be exploring. They might put a couple more back into the mix."

The removal of three sites from the proposed landfill sites list by the Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) brings the total number of proposed sites as of today to seven. Two were removed because private property landowners said they had future plans for use of their land.

Centola said he is not surprised by commissioners' decision, noting that the county's Solid Waste Advisory Committee had recommended doing so, based on Federal Aviation Administration recommendations.

Centola said he's looking forward to returning to SWAC next week to move forward in the process of narrowing the list of sites to finalist candidates. Even with this phase of the process playing out, it hasn't slowed down the timeline for county commissioners to pick a final spot in the spring of 2024.

"We're right on schedule with the process we established for the site selection" Centola said.

Last month, the committee heard public comments about potential landfill sites in East Bend, as well as the three sites located near Deschutes County airports now removed from the list. You can view our report on those comments and concerns here.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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