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Denman keys aren't what you think

I’ve seen some references recently in the Mail Tribune about needing a key to get past some gates at the Denman Wildlife Area. That’s public land, so why is it set aside for some privileged people with keys to gates that lock out the public?

— Steve, email submission

Well, Steve, that exclusive club you’re talking about with keys to two Denman Wildlife Area gates in White City isn’t so exclusive. In fact, everyone willing to give his or her name and vehicle license number can get one of those keys for free.

Since the program began, about 18,000 free keys have been given out by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, though a fair have been duplicates to people who have lost them.

“So, it’s not some sort of exclusive club,” wildlife area Manager Clayton Barber says.

It started back in 1992 when the wildlife area was the frequent deposit space for illegal dumpers.

“We were getting three or four appliances per week, and untold numbers of tires,” Barber says.

To curb that, the agency installed gates at two popular dump sites — the TouVelle Road access of Agate Road and the access area off Modoc Road across from the Upper Table Rock Trail parking lot.

Free keys were given out to people who registered, with the idea that people who went through this simple process to be legit likely won’t illegally use the wildlife area as a garbage dump.

“As soon as we put the gates in, that (dumping) went down significantly,” Barber says.

The only real change came in 2012 when ODFW required a parking pass at the wildlife area. Those cost $30 a year, but you get one for free with the purchase of an Oregon hunting license.

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@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.