A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bowers Rock: The access deed

Written June 8th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
The entrance to Bowers Rock State Park at the end of Bryant Drive.

The entrance to Bowers Rock State Park at the end of Bryant Way.

The public does have the right to access Bowers Rock State Park via Bryant Way, according to the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation.

The public’s right has been disputed by an — apparently — privately installed sign at Bryant Way and Bryant Drive. “No Public Access,” the sign proclaims. And in case that’s not enough, it adds: “Violators will be prosecuted.”

As far as I know, no one has been ticketed for getting to the undeveloped park at the west end of Bryant Way. The reason may be a deed record in the archives of the Linn County Clerk. The document was filed on July 5, 1917. It says that H. and Adda E. Bryant sold, for $10, to five other members of the Bryant family “a right of way for ingress and egress over a strip of land thirty feet wide, being fifteen feet on each side of the following described line, to-wit …”

There follows a lengthy legal description. The document makes clear that this right of ingress and egress stayed with the properties’ subsequent owners “forever.” It was this right, or easement, that passed to the state when it acquired the properties to which it is attached.

“While we do not have any public facilities or accommodations for visitors,” spokesman Chris Havel of the parks department told me in an email, “we believe the state’s easement on Bryant Way includes public access to the Bowers Rock property. There is no designated public parking in this area — the easement is for entering and leaving the property only, and does not address parking along or at the end of Bryant Way.”

He added, “Since this isn’t a developed piece of property, we don’t promote its use, and when people do ask about it, we remind them it’s important to respect the property rights of our neighbors around the property. Goes without saying, I suppose.”

Respecting the rights of neighbors is crucial, of course. But as long as people stay on that strip of land 30 feet wide dedicated to ingress and egress in 1917, I don’t think they need to worry when they walk or ride a bike to the entrance of that state park. It might help if the parks department got the county to put up signage to that effect on Bryant Drive, a county road. (hh)

14 responses to “Bowers Rock: The access deed”

  1. Mark H. Avery says:

    Thank You Hasso for the great follow-up story.
    By you looking into the record books I´d think all are thankful for having you (and your bike) here in Albany.


    • Hasso Hering says:

      To be fair, I got a digital copy of the access deed after from the parks department. It was hard to read, and I took it to the Linn Clerk’s Office, where it enabled a helpful guy named Sean Wilson to look it up in the files and have his computer cough up a legible copy. I had asked him to look into the “easement” question the day before. He had done so and made copies of various property records, all of which cost me 10 bucks for copying, which was cheap considering the time he must have spent. (hh)

  2. Barry Hoffman says:

    Hasso, I believe the public may park along the county right of way along Bryant drive. As long as you do not block or impede traffic. However, I have not looked up the county laws in this regard.

  3. Bob Woods says:

    Thank you Hasso.

    Some people don’t seem to understand that “the state” is “the people.”

    • H. R, Richner says:

      “L’etat c’est moi”? I feel so much better.

      • Bob Woods says:

        So, do you claim to be the progeny of Louis XIV? Or are you just trying to confuse people?

        • hj.anony says:

          There is some doubt that Louis XIV ever said that. Doesn’t impact my life currently. Not that I am aware of.

          Trump = “The state, it;s me”

  4. hj.anony1 says:

    Forget the county road!

    I suggest we meet at Bryant. Park that is and take to the river. It can be a day-outing.
    Hasso & commenters paddling the Willamette to this wild, wonderland. All in the name
    of fun, exploration, lively conversation and a brainstorming session on what to do with this park.

    Who is in? No shotguns or bow & arrows allowed.

  5. HowlingCicada says:

    Conventional proposal: Build a big parking lot and the usual “facilities.” Pave Bryant Way to placate the neighbors because cars kick up a lot of dust.

    Think outside the box: Build a bicycle bridge from Hyak Park to Bowers Rock and paths from the bridge to Bryant Way. No need to pave anything. You now have a bicycle route between Albany and Corvallis which bypasses the most suicidal part of Hwy 20 (east of Hyak Park).

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Until we have “like” buttons here, I’ll offer a reply post. Placating the neighbors. I like it. This is very important!! They are feeling encroached upon. To make them feel at ease with so sort of offering is important. Less dust, perhaps.

      Bicycle bridge…cool. Not sure anything would be less suicidal as bike vs. auto. Train? Sorry we’ve seen that.

  6. Bill Higby says:

    Good info Hasso, probably does not make you real popular with the neighbors though.

  7. Al Nyman says:

    If you research easement law in the State of Oregon, I doubt you will find a case that supports your theory that millions of people can use that easement to access the property. I think the state parks is blowing smoke when they say millions of people can access that property based on the easement.

    • Bob Woods says:

      You are dead wrong. Whoever has an easement can use it at will. If I want my 3.5 million relatives to come to my house there is NOTHING you can do about it.

      • Al Nyman says:

        You are dead wrong Bob. Don’t ever go to court over an easement expecting that result because you are wrong as I found out in losing a court case. Just ask Jim Delapoer my attorney.


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