CANYON CITY - Plans for a luxury guest ranch in Silvies Valley cleared another hurdle last week when the Grant County Court approved the master plan for the development.
The Court's unanimous vote followed the recommendation of the Grant County Planning Commission, which held a hearing on the Silvies Valley Ranch master plan Jan. 19.
Principal owners Scott and Sandy Campbell are planning a ranch resort that will showcase cattle ranching, wildlife habitat and the natural beauty of Silvies Valley, south of Seneca.
For tourists, the draw also will include a restaurant, day spa, meeting rooms, an elite golf course and cabins and townhomes.
The master plan says the resort could include 575 units at full buildout, but Scott Campbell doesn't expect that number to be reached anytime soon - or perhaps even in his lifetime.
For now, he said, he's focusing on the first phase, which entails about 100 cabins around an existing lodge building and in the hills beyond it. He said the buildings will be sited on land that is the least valuable for grazing and the most cost-effective for construction.
Campbell said the housing also will be clustered in such a way that it won't conflict with wildlife movement patterns.
The development will not sell lots or land, but cabins and townhomes will be available for fractional ownership, much like timeshares.
The Court meeting on Feb. 8 drew little testimony.
Dean Elliott, speaking for the Oregon Hunters Association, said he and his late son Wayne - a longtime OHA member and officer - had toured the ranch a few years ago and were impressed with the improvements the owners had made.
His only question regarded whether the development would restrict any existing public access for hunters or recreationists on the acreage the ranch has under lease.
The master plan notes that the ranch encompasses 40,000 deeded acres, with another 100,000 leased acres.
"It won't change any access to public lands at all," Campbell said of the development.
Campbell said the leased acreage refers to public land, mostly Forest Service, used for cattle grazing.
The master plan covers development in up to six phases on less than 5,000 acres, none on leased land, with impacts to 6,980 acres at full buildout.
Commissioner Boyd Britton asked about construction jobs, noting that questions had come up about whether the project would put people to work.
So far, Campbell said the ranch has hired 25-30 people, about evenly split between Harney and Grant counties. The ranch also has hired many more workers from Grayback for seasonal forest work.
The ranch is expected to provide jobs in the service sector, perhaps as many as 150, at completion.
The target for opening the guest ranch is 2016.