BANDON -- A potential land trade, allowing construction of another golf course by the owner of Bandon Dunes, is on the agenda for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission next week.

Hank Hickox, general manager of the resort, is scheduled to address the commission during public comment shortly after 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, July 20, at Bandon's Harbortown Events Center.

Hickox will update the commission on ongoing discussions about a possible land exchange involving a state-owned parcel within the Bandon State Natural Area. The parcel would be swapped for two or more properties owned by Bandon Biota, the conservation division for Bandon Dunes Golf Resort owner Mike Keiser.

The proposed land trade would lead to construction of a 27-hole golf course, largely on property that Keiser has already acquired east of the BSNA and west of commercial cranberry farms in the area. Bob Johnson, Keiser's longtime real estate representative, said the development would be limited to a golf course and clubhouse, with no motel rooms, housing or other businesses.

'We think this project will become a part of Mr. Keiser's legacy on the South Coast," Johnson said.

The Bandon State Natural Area is an approximately 1,750-acre strip of state-owned land that runs along the beach from Devil's Kitchen to Lower Fourmile Creek. The entire acreage is open for hikers, mushroom pickers, birdwatchers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Opposition

At least one conservation group opposes the idea.

Cameron LaFollette, land-use director of the Oregon Coast Alliance, told alliance supporters in an email last week that the state's new land acquisition and exchange policy requires any swap proposed by others must show an overwhelming public benefit.

The group opposes both the Bandon Biota plan and an unrelated project at Floras Lake. LaFollette said both proposals 'seek to turn valuable, important public park land over to private developers for a much narrower public benefit than they have as parkland."

Johnson and Hickox said this week that the proposed trade is far from finished, and other properties could become part of the deal.

'Discussions are ongoing and we're trying to meet everyone's requirements," Johnson said.

Preliminary proposal

The state tentatively would give up a 206-acre strip along the BSNA's southeast side. Bandon Biota described it as 'a small slice of inaccessible southeasterly upland that is almost entirely covered with gorse and other invasive plant species."

Bandon Biota tentatively would trade a 97-acre parcel on the north bank of the Coquille River, opposite the Bandon Marsh Wildlife Refuge, and a 111-acre parcel of oceanfront land that borders the south end of the BSNA.

A preliminary proposal said Keiser plans to remove gorse, restore native plant habitat, and incorporate the added land into a 27-hole public golf course. Johnson said Bandon Biota's conservation efforts would help the endangered Western snowy plover by adding more than a half-mile of prime habitat to the BSNA.

'The mandates of state parks are conservation and recreation," Johnson said. 'I think we can make an overwhelming case for the conservation benefits of this project."

Steve McCasland is a reporter for the Bandon Western World. Reach him at smccasland@theworldlink.com, or 541-347-2423, ext. 29.

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