Oregon Second District Congressional Representative Cliff Bentz held town hall meetings in Prineville and Madras on Friday.
National and local issues were discussed.
One issue Bentz had not heard of until today concerns Lemon Gulch on Mill Creek northeast of Prineville.
“We are opposed to this bike trail system. We feel it’s going to affect our lives, our way of life,” said Ann Hill, who lives on Mill Creek Road, the route most people would travel to access the project, if built.
The Lemon Gulch trail system project involves nearly 52 miles of proposed trails in a 9-square mile area near Steins Pillar northeast of Prineville.
Several Mill Creek Road residents spoke in opposition.
“We treasure this area and we would not like to see it become another Bend or Deschutes County,” said Dave Nielsen.
“How you manage that change is so important. That’s why I was happy to hear, in talking to representative Iverson and others this morning, that they are trying to slow down the land use process, so that all of you can appropriately weigh in and say we’ve got to protect the land,” Bentz said. “We can’t have it damaged if you will by new uses. At the same time, we understand that there’s new people coming in and that multiple use label, that’s exactly what it is, multiple use.”
Ann House of Crooked River Ranch asked Bentz if he supports the federal infrastructure bill now working its way through congress.
“There are things in the $3.5 (trillion-dollar House version), not to mention its outrageous size, that are not acceptable to me,” he replied.
Bentz says he will study the smaller $1.1 trillion dollar senate approved infrastructure bill, which is a 1,100 page document, while he flies back to Washington D.C. on August 23rd.
“To be in Washington D.C. and be able to address some of the challenges that seem to be such roadblocks and such one-size-fits-all policies that aren’t working well on the ground, that’s a wonderful feeling to be able to say ‘hey, we can do something,’” Bentz said.
Bentz has offices open in Medford and Ontario.
His staff is working on setting up an office in Bend.
He invites 2nd congressional district constituents to contact his office for help interacting with federal agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.
Bentz will hold another town hall meeting Saturday, Aug. 14 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center at 10 am.