Mule deer inventory update launches

 

Last updated 4/18/2023 at 6:17pm

JERRY BALDOCK

Deschutes County Community Development will host a public information session in Sisters on Tuesday, April 4, to provide information on new zoning and code regarding mule deer habitat.

Deschutes County Community Development is creating a new mule deer combining zone and a corresponding new code chapter to address uses in that zone. Three public information sessions will be held in April in Sisters, Bend, and Redmond.

For rural properties under 20 acres with an existing home, generally no changes are being considered, according to the County.

The purpose of the project is to conserve mule deer winter range habitat in Deschutes County; to protect an important environmental, social, and economic element of the area; and to permit development compatible with the protection of the mule deer resource.

The process is expected to be contentious. Skeptical farmers and ranchers have already expressed concern, viewing the proposals as nothing more than thinly veiled disguises at limiting growth in the county. Proponents are adamant that measures be taken to mitigate the declining deer population.

According to the County, the project will rely on input from the public to help shape the amendments as they go through the legislative process— first, hearings before the Deschutes County Planning Commission beginning on April 13, and then a second set of hearings in front of the Board of County Commissioners.

Planning staff and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will be holding three public information sessions prior to the first public hearing to explain the project and answer questions. Public Information sessions will be held on:

•?Tuesday April 4 — Sisters High School (Room TBD), 5:30 p.m.

•?Thursday, April 6 — Barnes & Sawyer Room, Deschutes Service Center, Bend (virtual option available), 5:30 p.m.

•?Monday, April 10 — Redmond City Hall (Civic Room 208), 5:30 p.m.

The Deschutes County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on April 13, at 5:30 p.m. The hybrid public hearing will take place at the Deschutes Services Center, Barnes & Sawyer Rooms (first floor) at 1300 Wall St. in Bend. The County anticipates holding additional hearing dates after April 13, which will be determined at the initial hearing. Remote attendance information and meeting materials can be found at deschutes.org/meetings approximately one week prior to the hearing.

For more details, including maps of the proposed zone and proposed draft regulations, visit deschutes.org/muledeer.

The first phase of the project took place in 2020-2021, in which Deschutes County initiated the process of considering updates to three of its Goal 5 wildlife inventories. Utilizing an Interagency Working Group (IWG) of wildlife biologists from state agencies as well as an independent wildlife biologist consultant, the IWG collected and vetted new biological data to define these new inventories. For background information, visit https://www.deschutes.org/cd/page/wildlife-inventory-update and see “Wildlife census could impact Sisters Country,” The Nugget, January 12, page 1.

 

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