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The buffalo don't roam free in Ashland

Dear Question Folks, Why has an "OPEN RANGE, Next 11.5 miles" sign been posted in the middle of Ashland? It recently appeared on Ashland Street near Shop N' Kart. In addition to marauding wildlife must we now dodge unfenced cattle on the streets of our fair city?

— JP, Ashland

We at SinceYouAskedVille always thought Central Point was the Fair City in Jackson County, but that's a different question for a different day.

Ashland is, of course, where the deer and antelope play. (OK, maybe not antelope, but an occasional bear roams the streets.)

It's not likely you will see sheep, cattle or other herds wandering aimlessly on Siskiyou Boulevard any time soon, but there was a time when Ashland's city limits didn't stretch quite as far to the east as now, and that factors into why "Open Range" warning sign appeared.

The sign was erected by the folks at the Oregon Transportation Department this past year at the behest of the Jackson County Clerk's office. 

ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said the department was asked to place signs at the historic beginning of Open Range land. Of course, that particular area may well have been covered with farms long before highways and freeways traversed the region.

"The idea was to put the sign in the historic boundary which was in the city limits," Leaming said. "Upon further review and a lot of discussions and phone calls, that was an error."

The mix and match of historical and revised rules are somewhat Byzantine, he said.

There are just three open-range counties in Oregon: Grant, Harney and Lake counties. Jackson County is among 23 combining elements of open-range and livestock districts.

Incorporated cities are classified as livestock districts. Oregon defines a livestock district as a closed-range district where livestock may not run at large; the livestock owner or manager must keep livestock on his or her own property.

"The bottom line is that we're going to move that sign outside the city limits, probably by Dead Indian Memorial Road," Leaming said. 

—Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.