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Bandon State Natural Area Exchange Proposal

In April 2014, the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission approved an exchange proposal made by Bandon Biota related to Bandon State Natural Area. Bandon Biota is described as a private "conservation land holding entity" owned by Michael Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes and other local golf courses. Bandon Biota asked to use part of the land they've requested -- a 280 acre piece of the 878 acre Bandon State Natural Area -- to create a new golf course. After several public meetings, the Commission voted 4-2 in favor of the exchange; in exchange for the outgoing property, Bandon Biota intends to:
  • Convey two properties to in the Bandon area into the state park system totaling 208 acres.
  • Contribute $300,000 to help combat an invasive plant (gorse) on nearby state park properties.
  • Pay $2.5 million into an escrow account to fund future acquisition of state park property.
  • Offer access to property to move the Oregon Coast Trail north of Bandon off a county road.
  • Contribute $450,000 as match for a federal grant to acquire 11 acres of coast property in Lincoln County known as Whale Cove (this contribution was made before the commission acted and was not contingent on commission approval of the larger exchange).
A news release issued after the commission meeting summarizes the result. Read the commission meeting materials in their entirety.

Any outside proposal affecting state park land must provide "overwhelming" public benefits to the state park system. The system is not a single, unchanging set of properties. Most of the change involves receiving property from willing sellers, but it does sometimes involve allowing property to leave the system. The equation -- what the public gains minus what it is giving up -- has to show this overwhelming public benefit. The benefits are measured by looking at how the deal affects the department's mission to "provide and protect outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations."

Deciding whether an idea provides an overwhelming benefit isn't just about looking at numbers (acres and dollars), so it's not surprising people have different views about this exchange. The Commission ultimately decided to approve the exchange proposal because they felt, when viewed as a whole, it met this standard.

Next steps
The state owns the 280 acres Bandon Biota wants, but the land was acquired from the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the 1960s. The BLM placed a restriction on the property when they sold it to the state -- the property must be used for public outdoor recreation. Before the commission can even attempt to transfer the 280 acres to Bandon Biota, the deed restriction has to be addressed.

Because of the deed restriction, OPRD has to submit an application to the BLM to get permission to change the use of the land and transfer this portion of the property. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department started the ball rolling with a letter to the BLM, then met with Bandon Biota and the BLM to start the discussion in June 2014.  Before sending the application in, Bandon Biota, OPRD, and the BLM met again in February 2015 (read the notes). After OPRD sends the application to the BLM, there will be a federal process to review and take public comment on it.

Other and Older Documents
Bandon-area properties
Resource assessment: Bandon State Natural Area (and an older report from 2007)
Resource assessment: 97 acre Coquille spit property (older assessment)
Resource assessment: 111 acre oceanfront property
Map: Bandon State Natural Area and adjacent incoming property
Map: Coquille Spit incoming property
Appraisal (outdated and obsolete): Bandon State Natural Area *
Appraisal (outdated and obsolete): 97 acre Coquille Spit *
Appraisal (outdated and obsolete): 111 acre oceanfront property near Bandon SNA *
Wildlife assessment
Letter to BLM inquiring about Bandon State Natural Area deed restriction
1992 Letter/Memorandum of Understanding expressing state interest in Coquille Spit property

Whale Cove
Map: Whale Cove property
Whale Cove grant application (a federal grant explains the scenic value of the property)

From public meetings and comments
2013-2015 acquisition priority list
Open houses: agendas
Open houses: meeting notes

Open houses: results of voting exercise
A letter from the Governor to the Commission about Grant County
Written comments BEFORE the November 2013 Commission meeting
Written comments received AT the November 2013 Commission meeting
Written comments received AFTER the November 2013 Commission meeting
Summary of public comments through December 2013, with staff responses
Written comments received between February 5-April 9, 2014

* A note about the appraisals: Old appraisals are used as a rough guide only. New appraisals have been prepared but are under mandatory review.

Audio from the July 2013 Commission meeting in Coos Bay:
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Audio from September 2013 Commission meeting in Condon:
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Audio from November 2013 meeting in Corvallis. The two beeps you hear represent a break in the audio. The first beep happens after Rep. Bentz's testimony (there was 45 minutes of unrelated meeting material between his testimony and the rest of the recording). The second beep happens during a 5 minute recess as the motions were being written by the Dept. of Justice and the recorder was switched off):
Get Microsoft Silverlight2 hr, 18 min. Click to play. Speakers on!

Audio from the February 5, 2014 Commission meeting.
Get Microsoft Silverlight1 hr, 48 min.

Audio from the April 9, 2014 Commission meeting where they took action:
Get Microsoft Silverlight32 min.