The Forest Service announced this week that it is soliciting comments on the plans for a new multi-use sno-park at Kapka Butte.
The agency has been working for several years on the plan that would expand parking for motorized and non-motorized forest users to relieve some of the overcrowding at Dutchman Sno-park. The proposed expansion would create 70 slots for trailered parking to accommodate motorized users and another 40 parking spots for non-trailered vehicles (though plenty of snowmobilers opt to simply load their machines into the backs of pick-ups). The project also includes plans for roughly seven miles of new Nordic ski trails that we be open to off-leash dog owners. In addition, the proposal includes plans for a new snowshoe trail to the top of Kapka Butte, a roughly one-mile route.
While the proposal would presumably address, if not solve, the overcrowding issues on Century Drive, it has drawn criticism from motorized users as well as the backcountry and the off-leash dog communities.
The Bend Backcountry Alliance sent out an action alert this week to its members urging them to endorse a no-build option for the sno-park, until the Forest Service addresses some of the existing user conflicts between motorized and non-motorized recreation. The group has been pushing for the forest to designate Tumalo Mountain as a non-motorized area, but has thus far been unsuccessful.
Dog owners, too, have been cool on the Kapka idea, focusing instead on having the Forest Service designate an area closer to town on the north side of Century Drive as an off-leash area that could be accessed from the Swampy Sno-Park lot.
Perhaps most interestingly, the Kapka proposal has drawn fire from some in the snowmobiling community who say that it should be abandoned in favor of expanding the Dutchmen lot, which provides more ready access to the higher elevations, serves as a better launching point for Elk Lake and has better snow conditions.
In other words, anyone in favor of Kapka should step forward and raise your hand. Anyone?
According to the FS, comments can be submitted to the Bend Fort Rock Ranger district, Attn Shane Jeffries 1230 NE 3rd St. Suite A-262, Bend, OR 97702, or electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org