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Wildwood development moves forward posted on 01/01/2020

Mountain residents and visitors have a limited window to submit comments to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding the potential development of the Wildwood Recreation Area, with the deadline set for Wednesday, Jan. 15. The comment period opened on Dec. 2, 2019 following the completion of the Wildwood Recreation Area Management Plan Environmental Assessment (EA) and Unsigned Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

“We really ask people for substantive comments,” said Dan Davis, BLM’s Northwest Oregon District Outdoor Recreation Planner. “Let us know why you don’t like it, let us know if it will impact wildlife.”

The potential development, which could include recreation vehicle and full hook-up campsites, cabins, yurts, outdoor kitchen areas, administrative offices, restrooms and shower facility, bus stop, a playground, picnic areas, a dog park and a dump station, got started in 2016 with a public meeting to discuss the possibilities. The BLM completed an economic analysis and a draft Recreation Area Management Plan in November 2017 and plans included a possible comment period that winter.

But Davis noted that due to staffing turnover and the merger of two BLM districts, the project sat with engineers for a while as they went through all the aspects to be sure the numbers lined up.

The EA analyzes three action alternatives, including the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative.

Davis noted that after the comment period, the BLM is expected to review the comments, taking between two weeks and a month to do so. After addressing the substantive comments, the proposed project could be signed and released as the final document.

Davis added that any work at Wildwood would not be expected to take place in 2020, with contracts and funding likely lined up the year before work would begin.

“It’s really hard to speculate what appropriations are going to be year to year,” Davis said.

Approximately 50,000 visitors come to Wildwood each year, but the area, which was first developed in 1963, was built to accommodate up to 375,000 visitors. Davis noted that 99 percent of the fees go back to the site, unless the money can’t be spent there.

The EA and unsigned FONSI, including maps, are available for public review online at ePlanning project webpage: https://go.usa.gov/xmBUH. Please send written comments on the EA to John Huston, Field Manager, Cascades Field Office, BLM Northwest Oregon District, 1717 Fabry Road SE, Salem, Oregon, 97306. Comments may also be sent via email to blm_or_no_publiccomments_nepa@blm.gov, or submitted via the ePlanning project webpage under the “Documents” section on the left side of the webpage.

Comments, including names and addresses of respondents, will be available for public review, but individual respondents may request confidentiality. If you wish to withhold your name or street address from public review or from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your written comment. Such requests will be honored to the extent allowed by law. All submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be made available for inspection in their entirety.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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