Linn County assumes control over Cascadia Park

Linn County has managed and maintained Cascadia State Park for three years and on Tuesday morning, June 14, the Board of Commissioners agreed to take over permanent ownership of the historical spot east of Sweet Home from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Parks Director Brian Carroll said the project has been in the planning stages for nearly 20 years.

“This has been a long time in the making,” he said. “I am very happy to bring this before you today.”

Carroll said that in 2013, the Legislature included a State Parks budget note that identified eight state parks that might be more effectively managed by their respective counties.

“Cascadia State Park was a poster child for this,” he said, adding that the county’s trial management over the last three years has been successful. The state made a number of improvements to the park before the transition and Linn County has completed improvements as well. Carroll said the park was being maintained by State Parks employees who had to drive from Detroit or the Eugene area.

“Since we acquired Clear Lake Resort several years ago and began managing the U.S. Forest Service campgrounds on the South Santiam River, our crews drive by Cascadia State Park every day,” he said. “It just makes good sense for our taxpayers for us to do this.”

Linn County already has several campgrounds on Foster and Green Peter reservoirs and has an on-site ranger at River Bend Campground at Cascadia.

Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger was in the State Legislature when the issue first arose.

“Brian, you are likely the only person who has been involved from the very start,” she said. “It is quite a feat in your career and you should feel very good about this.”

Surrounded by an old-growth forest, Cascadia State Park sits near the South Santiam River and the historical Cascadia Caves, used by Native Americans as a gathering spot for centuries. Open for camping from May to September, the park offers 22 first-come, first-served campsites, group tent sites and a picnic area.

A three-quarter mile trail leads to Soda Creek Falls. Ruts on the historical Santiam Wagon Road are still visible.

Carroll said an official “handing-over” ceremony including State Parks officials will be held at the park some time this summer.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Were told by Building Official Steve Wills that the county has waived more than $112,000 in permitting fees for families rebuilding homes in the Santiam Canyon fire area. He said there have been 36 fire-hardening grant applications, 24 approvals and 11 denials.

— Approved renewal of a contract with DLR Group Architecture & Engineering to design plans to upgrade a portion of the women’s area at the Linn County Jail.

— Authorized closure of Mill City’s First Avenue, SW Broadway Street, SW Linn Boulevard and Lyons Mill City Drive for a Fourth of July parade.

— Approved the purchase of a new fuel tank for $93,969 for the Road Department’s Scio facility.

— Approved annexation of property owned by Kevin and Kacie Nelson at 37850 Middle Ridge Drive, Lebanon, into the Lebanon Fire District.

— Heard from four concerned citizens about the county’s recent proclamation of June as Gay Pride Month, which they asked the commissioners to rescind. Commissioners Sprenger and Will Tucker said they approved a proclamation which had been rewritten from its original concept, because they had spoken with students who have been bullied over LGBTQ issues.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer