Federal property near Hyatt Lake may be sold

In a draft environmental assessment released Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says it would prefer to sell 3.53 acres of public land adjacent to Camper's Cove Resort on Hyatt Lake.

The preferred alternative in the document calls for selling the land, which has been encroached upon slightly by owners of the 2-acre Camper's Cove Resort.

Although the land would become private property under that alternative, its use would be restricted and the building of structures would be prohibited, officials said.

The other two options include no action or restoring the area to a more natural state.

The public has until Feb. 7 to comment on the 15-page draft plan.

Hyatt Lake is about 14 miles east of Ashland.

The Bureau of Reclamation said the land had been encroached upon by the owners of the Camper's Cove Resort when they began developing their acreage after buying it in 2006, according to the draft document.

A survey verified that 19 of 23 cabins and associated structures at Camper's Cove encroached upon the agency's land, it noted.

However, it observed that the infringement was only a few feet onto public land and closely followed the existing land boundary.

The encroaching structures were removed last year, but nearby Camper's Cove and other cabins on the adjoining private land were not affected.

The most recent operator of the concession was Camper's Cove LLC, which owns property at both Hyatt Lake Resort and at Camper's Cove.

Resort manager Bill Duke declined to comment about the draft EA after being contacted via cellphone by the Mail Tribune on Friday.

Bob McNeely, who formerly ran Camper's Cove, filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 30, 2009, for Nor'wester Industries Inc. of Washington, the company that built the cabins, which McNeely described as recreational vehicles.

A Greensprings group known as Southern Oregon Citizens has opposed the resort's expansion plans.

The resort owners have also been embroiled with Jackson County over land-use issues.

The agency's preferred alternative would sell the encroached-upon land along with an additional 100-foot fuel break for wildfire safety as required by Jackson County.

Property deed restrictions would be attached in perpetuity to the land being considered for sale, prohibiting future development, said Charles Carnohan, an environmental protection specialist in the bureau's field office in Yakima, Wash.

"The deed restrictions would preclude the same circumstances from developing again," he said Friday.

If the preferred alternative becomes part of the final decision, the land would be offered during a public auction, he said.

Under law, any property with a value of more than $15,000 must be disposed of by the General Services Administration. The 3.53 acres is expected to exceed that threshold, the document concluded.

The GSA would set a minimum bid, which would include the costs incurred by the agencies, and the value would be determined by an appraisal of the property.

Hyatt Lake was created in 1923 with the construction of a dam by the Talent Irrigation District for water storage.

The draft document is available online at http://tinyurl.com/b9op2nl.

Written comments can be submitted to Charles Carnohan, Environmental Protection Specialist, Bureau of Reclamation, 1917 Marsh Road, Yakima, WA, 98901-2058.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or pfattig@mailtribune.com.

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