This letter was sent to the Department of State Lands on March 17th expressing strong opposition to the sale of 400 acres of public lands to the Central Land and Cattle Company (Thornburgh Resort developer).
To the Department of State Lands,
The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance (HDFFA) is a Central Oregon based 501 c3 non-profit working to build a healthy and thriving food and farm network through education, collaboration, and inclusion. We represent the interests of small- and medium-scale, food producing farmers and ranchers in Central Oregon.
On behalf of our 65+ local farm and ranch partners, we write in opposition to the Department of State Lands’ proposed sale of 400 acres near Cline Buttes to Central Land and Cattle Company (transaction number: 63509-LS).
The Department of State Lands has a constitutional duty to manage this land with the objective of obtaining the greatest benefit for the people of this state, consistent with the conservation of this resource under sound techniques of land management (Article III, Section 5). Central Land and Cattle Company has already shown a blatant disregard to serve as stewards of this land, as they continue to move forward with the purchase of this parcel despite overt criticism from Central Oregon community members on the basis of a variety of concerns including destruction of critical wildlife habitat, denial of access to public recreational lands, and poor management of already scarce water resources. Their proposal to develop this land, and their current adjacent holdings, into a destination resort with three golf courses and an artificial lake, potentially using up to six million gallons of water in a single day, simply does not align with the broader health of Central Oregon.
The work of HDFFA includes helping local agricultural producers survive the current extreme and exceptional drought plaguing the Central Oregon region. Irrigation districts throughout the region are already warning of early season water cut-offs and limited allotments as severe drought conditions continue. The wells of several farmers and residences within a 6 mile radius of the proposed sale have gone dry. Selling this highly popular recreational land to a developer for the intended use of a destination resort is irresponsible and short-sighted.
Many of our farm and ranch partners are facing the reality of closing their businesses if they are unable to receive even 50% of their water allotments this year. By selling this land to a high-end developer, DSL is signaling to the agricultural community that the wishes of wealthy individuals, many coming from outside of Central Oregon, are more important than the need to produce healthy, fresh local food to nourish community members. Selling public recreational lands targeted for a destination resort will only intensify the water scarcity issues in our region that our farmers are already trying to contend with through conservation efforts.
We appreciate your consideration of this request, and thank you for supporting the farmers and ranchers who feed our communities.