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Prineville BLM seeks input on proposed solutions to Teaters Road access issue

Teaters Road BLM map
Prineville District BLM (file)
Blue line is the main Teaters Road, red is New Road, green is secondary road; green circles are gate locations

Dispute dates back six years

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Prineville District Bureau of Land Management requested public input Wednesday on a proposal to address a long-standing access issue to federal public lands about 30 miles east of Prineville across Teaters Road or via a newly constructed alternative route.

The project covers Teaters Road, which runs from Highway 380 (Paulina Highway) north to the North Fork Crooked River area and the Ochoco National Forest, and a new road, which begins at a junction with Teaters Road just north of Highway 380 and runs north adjacent to the western edge of Waibel Properties, LLC to the North Fork Crooked River area and the Ochoco National Forest.

The rest of the BLM's statement is below:

In 2014, representatives from Waibel Ranches, LLC and Waibel Properties, LLC met with the Prineville BLM to request that public access be closed on Teaters Road, due to claims of misuse of the road by the public.

After BLM denied the request, Waibel Ranches again approached BLM and stated that through a records search, Waibel Ranches felt that the access easement granted to BLM in 1964 by Waibel Ranches’ predecessor was incomplete.

Waibel Ranches indicated that it would be placing gates on the edge of its property; Waibel Ranches did install gates and locked them closed in 2015.

In a news release dated April 13, 2015, Prineville BLM explained that Waibel Ranches “was able to proceed with the closure because the BLM’s Right-of-Way (obtained in 1964) did not cover the entire length of Teaters Road.”  At the time, the BLM did not feel that it had sufficient evidence to prevent the installation of the gates, but the BLM continued to review historic documentation and other information in order to determine with certainty whether the easement provided public access.  

Based on that review, which was completed in September 2015, BLM has since determined that the statement in its prior news release was incorrect and that the easement over the entirety of Teaters Road is valid.

In October 2015, Waibel Ranches filed a lawsuit seeking a definitive judicial ruling on the scope of BLM’s easement over Teaters Road.  In the lawsuit, BLM has consistently taken the position that the easement over the entirety of Teaters Road is valid.

The court granted a jointly requested stay of the lawsuit, and the Prineville District Office and Waibel Ranches worked cooperatively to find a solution to the 2015 closure of Teaters Road that would restore public access to the area described above.

Waibel Ranches represented to the court that it would build a new road to the west of Teaters Road, solely on private property and at its own expense, that provides for the same purposes and uses as had been provided by Teaters Road through early 2015.

The new road would be donated to Crook County upon completion, and, once accepted by the county, would become a Local Access Road, open to the public with the same standard of access to the BLM North Fork Crooked River area and Ochoco National Forest that the original Teaters Road provided.

Under the jointly requested stay, once the new road was completed, the BLM agreed to initiate an environmental assessment to analyze the effects of several different alternatives for resolving the access issue.

BLM said Wednesday it is now in the scoping phase of the analysis, which means that any comments received will be used to refine the proposed action, identify issues for further analysis and develop alternatives.  The alternatives currently being considered are:

  1. Take no action, do not relinquish the right-of-way on Teaters Road, and do not accept an easement over the County Local Road/New Road.
  2. Relinquish the easement over Teaters Road and accept the easement over the County Local Road/New Road.
  3. Retain an administrative use easement on Teaters Road for federal government staff, contractor use, and timber hauling and accept the easement on the County Local Road/New Road for public access.

Preliminary issues identified for analysis include public access to a 160-acre parcel of public land that is accessible only by Teaters Road and that would not be accessible by the New Road, the ability of the New Road to serve the same purposes and uses of Teaters Road, safety of the New Road, discovery of the range and type of public uses and access provided by Teaters Road, and long-term maintenance requirements of the New Road. 

The BLM said it "would appreciate your input on these issues and alternatives, as well as any other actions that would meet the purpose of resolving the issue. "

"In addition, please share any suggested changes to the alternatives, additional potential alternatives, other concerns over project impacts, any data/information the BLM should consider in making a reasonable decision, names of people or groups the BLM should contact about this project, or any future actions by BLM or others that could have an added effect together with one or more of the alternatives."

A project website has been developed on the BLM’s ePlanning site that can be reached at the following link: The BLM has posted a map of the area here and will post updated project information throughout the planning process.

If you have comments you would like considered, please send them to the BLM by April 2, 2020.  There will be another public comment period on the environmental assessment before the BLM issues a decision.  Comments can be sent by e-mail to or by U.S. Mail to:  ATTN:  Teaters Road Access Resolution; BLM Prineville District Office; 3050 NE Third Street; Prineville, OR  97754. Comments can also be faxed to (541) 416-6798.

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

If you would like to remain on the mailing list for this project, please return comments or at least a request to remain on the mailing list; otherwise this will be your last correspondence regarding this project. We do not respond to scoping letters; however, your input will be considered as we develop the EA. If you have any questions about the project, please contact Lisa Clark at (541) 416-6700.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics
crook county

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