May 21, 2009

Wyden Introduces Bills to Transfer Property in LaPine and Wallowa

Washington, D.C. - Working to provide opportunities for economic development in two of Oregon's hardest hit areas, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation today to allow LaPine and Wallowa to use hundreds of acres of federal land to sustain community attractions, shore up significant infrastructure needs, and preserve historic areas.

"Recreation has long been an economic engine in Oregon," Wyden said. "These bills will be a shot in the arm for these two very deserving communities, giving them the land they need to infuse their economies with tourism, better serve their residents and preserve their heritage and history."

The La Pine Land Conveyance Act will transfer to the City of LaPine land currently under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. A 360-acre conveyance will be used to allow the community of LaPine to develop rodeo grounds. A separate 750-acre conveyance to Deschutes County will be used by the sewer district for more efficient wastewater management.

The BLM will turn control of the first parcel of land over to Deschutes County to enable the LaPine Parks and Recreation District to construct equestrian and rodeo facilities that will serve as a tourist attraction and provide employment and revenue for the city. The land will allow for the future development of ball fields and parks and recreation facilities.

The second parcel of land will allow for the future expansion of the town's wastewater treatment operations, a project that has languished for years. The Bureau of Land Management property, which is inside the city limits, will enable the expansion of a public works project to mitigate septic systems that are generating elevated groundwater nitrate levels.

The Wallowa Forest Service Compound Conveyance Act will transfer the Forest Service Ranger Station to the City of Wallowa. Under the agreement, the city will work in conjunction with a non-profit group to develop an interpretive center recognizing the importantcultural aspects of the community. The center will serve as a tourist destination and preserve the unique cultural heritage of the region.