News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

City has a vision for Lazy Z land

Habitat for raptors. Public walking trails. A safe highway viewpoint.

Those are elements the City of Sisters hopes to see in a new master plan for a portion of the 230.9-acre Lazy Z Ranch property that the City acquired years ago for effluent disposal.

“What we know,” said Public Works Director Paul Bertagna, “is that the western area of the ranch is not suitable for effluent dispersal.”

That’s because years of flood irrigation washed away soil that would absorb the effluent.

“We have some habitat out there; we have water rights,” Bertagna said. “We have some raptors; we have bald eagles nesting out there. We want to protect that and have the public be able to enjoy it through a series of walking trails.”

To that end, the City has issued a request for proposal for a Lazy Z Master Plan (see sidebar) that will identify and evaluate effluent irrigation options for the portion of the property suitable for that purpose, and evaluate open space park concepts and a highway view corridor for the rest of the property.

Bertagna said that the City is looking for a “very natural setting — passive, low-impact park use.” A view point would enhance safety where people often pull off the highway to take


Bertagna said that agencies from the Oregon Department of Transportation to the U.S. Forest Service have expressed support for a project of this type. He also noted that Sisters Trails Alliance will be involved.

The plan will analyze effluent reuse options and associated costs and identify crop (grass, hay, etc.) and irrigation options.

The plan is expected to evaluate best use of view corridor and open space park including: wetlands, existing on-site trees, native plant species, and compliance with American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

A concept design for the viewpoint and open space park is to capitalize on mountain views and evaluate viewing platforms and informational markers. It will explore wetland restoration using native plant species, park amenities including sitting benches and parking for both bikes and vehicles.

The RFP is due by October 15. Bertagna hopes to have a master plan adopted by the end of the budget year in 2021.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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