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Bentz joins China Hat neighbors in calling for homeless camps in the woods south of Bend to be cleared out

'We're disturbed with the fact that they're not doing something.'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --  Some residents on the south end of Bend are criticizing the U.S. Forest Service for not removing homeless camps when they work on roads in the China Hat area, and they have a potentially powerful ally on their side: Rep., Cliff Bentz, R-Ore.

Ruth, who lives near China Hat, said Monday, "I don't think that the road construction is going to really affect what's going on out in the forest. There's deep concern regarding the offensive littering issues on China Hat Road."

The Deschutes National Forest is planning to reconstruct about 3 and a half miles of service road 18 this year. Recently, the Forest Service announced that homeless camps would not need to be removed for the work. 

Bentz told NewsChannel 21 on Monday, "They don't think they have the authority to remove them, which I, which we disagree with. We think they have the authority, they're just not willing to utilize it. So we're disturbed with the fact that they're not doing something."

He wants the camps removed from Forest Service land - not only during construction, but for good.  

"Adjacent to China Road -- that's not set up for people to live by that. I mean, it's not set up for garbage. It's not set up for human waste. It's not set up for fire danger."

Bentz has met with residents during two recent trips to Central Oregon. 

On Monday, a neighbor shared her concern but didn't want to be identified.  

"Summertime is coming, and fire is a huge concern for this community. Bend should be concerned about the fire."

For now, the plan for the road work, which will run from June to October, includes the closure of Forest Road 18, also known as China Hat Road. 

The Forest Service and its partners plan to notify people in the camps, since it will impact access. Over the next several years, the U.S. Forest Service will relocate camps for prescribed burns in the Cabin Butte project area. 

Bentz said, "I really appreciate the opportunity to ask people to weigh in at at our email address at and share with us about what they think we should do to try to fix the situation."

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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