A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Bowers Rock: What’s behind HB 2034

Written January 19th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
At the Linn County Assessor's Office, a screen shows an aerial of Powers Rock and surrounding fields.

At the Linn County Assessor’s Office, a screen shows an aerial of Powers Rock and surrounding fields.

Oregon officials say they have no intention of condemning any land to provide public access to Bowers Rock State Park, but Rep. Andy Olson wants to make sure that if they do, they don’t take a farmer’s fields.

Olson has introduced House Bill 2034, which would cancel the state parks department’s authority to use the power of eminent domain on a large swath of land surrounding the 568-acre Bowers Rock area west of Albany. The state acquired the land starting in 1973 as part of the Willamette River Greenway, and the lack of public access has been an issue. State parks officials have an easement allowing them to access the acreage via Bryant Way, but the public can legally reach the land only from the Willamette River.

Olson told me in an email what was behind his bill: “During the past two years, I have met with residents … near Bowers State Park, listening to their concerns, i.e. trespassing, littering, vandalism. Long story short, in the process I learned that there exists the potential of the State Parks to take a large section of land belonging to one of the farmers in that area to expand access to the park. As a result, I am carving out a portion of the law passed back in 1973 permitting State Parks to access the land.  I support the access and the potential building of the park, but currently the park is nothing but undeveloped.  If access is to be granted, I don’t want it to be a large chunk of property from a farmer.”

I also checked with the State Department of Parks and Recreation. Spokesman Chris Havel responded: “We understand an adjacent property owner is concerned about future options to open the park to the public. As you know, we make it a point to work with willing parties when it comes to purchases, easements, and other agreements. We certainly have no plans that involve eminent domain around Bowers Rock.”

Olson filed HB 2034 before the start of the 2015 legislature. The session got organized last week but won’t start working until Feb. 2, so the bill has yet to be assigned to a committee. (hh)

Linn County cartographer Ben Olson helped me understand the legal description of land covered by HB 2034.

Linn County cartographer Ben Olson helped me understand the legal description of land covered by HB 2034.

6 responses to “Bowers Rock: What’s behind HB 2034”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    A guote: “…cancel the state parks department’s authority to use the power of eminent domain on a large swath of land surrounding the 568-acre Bowers Rock area west of Albany:”

    So Mr. Olson is promoting a bill that affects only particular land holders, in a single location, for a single park. Hmmmm….

    Ok Mr. Shadle and the rest of the far right wing: Here is a proposed law that I would expect you to scream bloody murder about “cronyism.” Designed to only affect specific individuals by granting them a specific exception to a state-wide law, not available to others.

    Let the outrage begin.

  2. Bill Kapaun says:

    Apparently the name calling has began……..

  3. James Carrick says:

    Bob, your understanding of the “right wing” mindset is a product of your own very fertile imagination. In fact to me…this looks more like a “carve-out” that would be favored by the far left wing to skirt rules they have set in place for the masses. The right wing as you call it is generally NOT if favor of “one size fits all” solutions such as the left is known for.Mr. Olson’s bill definitely IS NOT a one size fits all solution as you have so obviously pointed out. Cronyism? as if only those on the right are capable of it? You come up with some pretty skewed ideas and this is one of them. I think you will find “the far right” as you like to call us (wisely leaving off the “extreme/ist” moniker this time) to be generally in favor of keeping EFU land in farm use, thus being consistent with other current issues where eminent domain has been threatened. (Bike path).
    Bob, you’re apparently looking to pick a fight. I think you’ll need another subject for your verbal pugilism. Happy hunting.

  4. Bob Woods says:

    “Carve Out”, “cronyism”, choose your own euphemism, they all add up to the same thing: diverting folks from the truth.

    I like that you are not in favor of “one-size-fits-all”, because that is EXACTLY what our Constitution stands for: That all are created equal.

    What you clearly ignore is the 14th Amendment:

    “Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    “… Nor deny to any person the equal protection of the law.”

    What Any Olson is proposing does just that: It denies citizens the equal opportunity to use the eminent domain provision of the law in relation to the Bower Rocks State Park, by excluding it from the Eminent Domain provisions that would apply to every other parks site in the State.

    Bill, you’re just another one of those folks who REPEATEDLY practice intellectual dishonesty: You’re for laws that benefit you directly, but not if they don’t.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Actually, this is not a question of trying to give any land owner special treatment. Special treatment was provided for in the 1973 law that the bill seeks to amend. The Willamette River Greenway Act passed in 1973 as part of Oregon’s plunge into land-use planning. Chapter 558 of the laws of that year gave the state parks department authority to exercise eminent domain on a limited number of specific and legally described parcels along the river. Olson’s bill would remove the authorization on one parcel, which includes several tax lots including the nearly 600 acres at Bowers Rock the state already owns. (hh)

    • James Carrick says:

      I’ve been tempted to respond to this post, but since Mr. Woods can’t seem to figure out who he is responding to, there seems to be little I could add.


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