MALHEUR COUNTY, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is considering the purchase of a 1,075-acre cattle ranch in Eastern Oregon to add to their 3,798-acre Riverside Wildlife Area.
ODFW said the McDaniel Ranch, which lies 15 miles from Juntura, would be open to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife viewing.
Two and a half acres of the ranch lie along the Malheur River, which ODFW says would open up access to other land currently owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
Tom Segal, Wildlife Habitat Biologist at ODFW's Malheur Watershed, said the purchase has been opposed by some private landowners in the area who have opposed government buying more land in the eastern part of the state. However, he said that local sportsmen and the Oregon Hunters Association support it with some caveats.
Segal said ODFW intends to maintain current agricultural practices on the land including grazing cattle and haying fields.
ODFW was approached by the ranch's owner, Sam McDaniel, who wanted to gauge the department's interest in the property since it is directly adjacent to their wildlife area.
Segal told Oregon Capitol News that ODFW purchasing the land would benefit locals and the general public.
"If it was in private ownership, nobody could go on there without the consent of the land owner," he said, adding that the purchase would open the property to recreationists, hunters, wildlife watchers, fishermen, and the rest of the public.
To fund the purchase, ODFW would use money earmarked for land acquisition, from land lost to the department in the building of the Ruby Pipeline which runs from Wyoming to Southern Oregon.
ODFW will hold three public hearings around Eastern Oregon to hear from citizens about their purchase of the McDaniel Ranch. The scheduled is:
Ontario: Nov. 1, Ontario Grange (3890 Hwy 201) at 7:00 pm
Burns: Nov. 2, Harney County Chamber of Commerce (484 North Broadway) at 7:00 pm
Bend: Nov. 3, Riverhouse Convention Center (3075 North Business 97) at 7:00 pm