The pear orchard on Highway 238 on the left side of the road just before you enter Jacksonville is being taken out. Do you know what will go in its place? We will miss the trees that acted as a sound barrier from the highway.
— Gayle S., Jacksonville
Philip VanBuskirk, regional administrator for the Oregon State University Extension Center, said the orchards are being pulled out because the owner couldn't find anyone to manage them.
The bosc pears grown on the orchard apparently weren't a desirable variety for market, and "no one else wanted to lease it," he said.
VanBuskirk said this was a bad year for fire blight in pear orchards, and orchards that aren't being taken care of have to be removed because insects and other problems can spill over into nearby orchards.
By the way, Gayle, that 50-acre property has been the subject of news stories in the Mail Tribune in the past.
In 2008, the owner of the land, David Young, proposed building a medical spa resort and requested the city expand its boundaries to include the orchard land, zoned exclusive farm use. The city bumped into difficulties with the state, which didn't like the idea of building on agricultural land, so the idea languished.
VanBuskirk said the owners of agriculturally zoned lands can lose their lower property tax status if the acreage is no longer productive as farm land.
He said many owners of exclusive farm use land turn to other farm managers who grow alfalfa or other crops to maintain the favorable tax status.