Published by Frank Biggs on 23 Feb 2015
This article is a two part article that has to do with
Public Land Access and Private Timber Land Access
Changing times are upon us!
The following article are my thoughts and opinions on the subject public and private timber land use!
Like the wind, the environment of hunting changes without notice. Over the many years of hunting and being able to hunt openly on State, Federal, B.L.M. and Timber company’s properties, plus horse trading to hunt private, it was pretty easy to find a place to hunt without hassle in Oregon.
Not too many years ago I or We were able to hunt a great parcel of BLM in central Oregon near Madras, Oregon. Since the land was rugged we would use quads to get from point A to B, glass and then hunt the game down. Prior to quads from the days of hunting the great Snake River for Rocky Mountain Elk, horses were the key to non-motorized entry for our team.
A number of years ago the neighboring landowners were able to get the rules changed with BLM; no quads or other motorized allowed. Strange that there are many old ranch roads and BLM roads on the land, now closed to the public, yet the adjacent land owner can use quads… Just as strange motorized is allow on another parcel BLM land very close by. The BLM is connected actually by a county line to the south. I will tell you it was not a rancher or farmer that lobbied to get it closed!
Wanting to find new lands on the west side of the Cascades Mountains in Oregon, using my Garmin Montana GPS and the fabulous onXmaps HUNT software a new world open when scouting, finding such lands as Weyerhaeuser, Port Blakely, Longview Fiber (NOW OWNED BY WEYERHAEUSER), BLM, State Lands, plus small parcels of National Forest. Mainly interested in Blacktail Deer though Roosevelt Elk can be found on the same land, scouting during May, June and July before the Oregon Archery season, it was great to find many great Blacktail bucks.
With regular maps you would never know the private timber conglomerates, yet alone small parcels of state owned or National Forest lands without using the onXmaps HUNT software. In many western states there are mining claim that the public can pass through, but there are many small land parcels (50 – 200 acres) of mines on BLM and National Forest that you’ll never see on a paper map. Miners don’t take to kindly to trespassing and they might not call the law to Enforce a trespassing law…
Port Blakely allows some free hunting, but one better know the phone number and check prior to the dates wanting to access the land. I am going to give a Hoorah to PLUM CREEK, as they allow the public to use their land with NO CHARGES.
This is where it stops; recently I made a call to an old hunting buddy about his elk hunt during the archery season in Oregon. I was informed he received a $350.00 fine for trespassing on Weyerhaeuser property during the season. What! An area he has hunted for more than 30+ years for elk and deer.
For years the Weyerhaeuser properties have been open to public access. Well things change and now you have to have a permit to hunt. A number of ways to do it, open permits or bid on the total access to parcels.
Stop and think about it for a second, most likely these giant timber companies get tax breaks and I can tell you some it about public access. In the N.W. Weyerhaeuser owns 6,000.000+ acres, the size of Rhode Island in the United States and controlling 12,000,000 acres in Canada on long term leases.
There is now great controversy about Weyerhaeuser charging for access to their lands.
If you go back far enough you’ll find some of the tainted realities of land grab, via the railroads, government and the buying and giving of our timberlands.” I remember the term cut and pay as you go.” Think about making revenue without paying first, well in the timber business it has been done.
For years I have vented my thoughts and anger about BLM and other public land trades, in which there might be blocks of separated lands. What I have seen and many others that fight for our public lands are normally bad changes, with the public getting short end of the stick.
There is one large section of BLM in Oregon in which some our most liberal politicians want to swap great elk and deer hunting land with a group. In the rules of engagement of this particular land swap the two private land owners want to control the road, closing it off during the winter months. They want the county road to be vacated. The swap itself isn’t too bad, but the old wagon road from the 1800’s needs to be the dividing line with open access to the public. No one private individual should have the rights to stop the public from going into public land on a trade such as this.
We find that the National Forest wants to close thousands of miles of roads in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest; the battle goes on with this subject!
So where is all of this leading, well it is leading into a fight for survival of hunting and public access to public land. In the meantime it is very important for land users, whether fishing, hiking, hunting or evening just driving around to know the lay of the un-marked lands. No matter who you are you need a Garmin GPS (colored-microchip capabilities-modern) and the onXmaps HUNT software loaded on the GPS and my personal recommendation on your laptop and your mobile device. I have said since mapping GPS’s came out it is better to know where you are going then to know where you have been. I love to search via onXmaps HUNT (APP) Google Earth and see new spots, thus adding them to my GPS for the next outing to investigate.
In Conclusion: There are some private timber companies in the west and mountain states that allow the public to use their property for recreation. It is important for everyone to know where they are and not take for granted they have access. Use equipment that will keep you legal, safe and open new avenues in your outdoor ventures. Make your voice go forward about what is right! Please remember that it is illegal to try and jump from corner to corner on public land that is encompassed with private…
I personally do not leave home without my Garmin Montana and my onXmaps HUNT updated for travels in Oregon!