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Discussion Starter #1
BNSF railroad has closed the Oak Springs hatchery access site, promising to ticket/arrest anyone crossing the tracks to get access to the west bank of the Deschutes. They did the same thing a few years back at South Junction on the D. Anyway, it means that there's essentially no westside walking access from Maupin down to the White River. Here's a story from last month on BNSF shutting down access in Wisconsin.
Strict enforcement of trespass law by BNSF could put Wisconsin shoreline off limits

The claim that "safety" is the main concern is ludicrous, of course, especially coming from the same company that had welders working on its derailed oil tanks w/o telling the workers that the cars were full of crude.
Growing Oil Train Traffic Is Shrouded In Secrecy
 

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They did the same thing up on the Skykomish, they pic on one or two spots of the dozens along the river. I was kicked of the river by a wdfw officer with threats of tickets. They have been cracking down the last two yrs but only for a week or two early in the season.
 

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They had problems below the Oak Springs Hatchery during the Salmon Fly hatch with people walking the line and not getting off them in time for the trains. Also they were doing track repairs in that area and had people walk through were they were working. When asked to please get off the tracks by the work crews they were treated with abuse.
I am seeing this all over our State and not just with BNSF, Places we have had access for years being closed down to us because of a few A-Holes who leave trash and do not respect other peoples property. In 30 years I have never had a problem with BNSF and I know of times when the train crews have helped out folks who were in trouble on the lower Deschutes, It is just a shame.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
WD, I heard that too, but was a little suspicious about that story, in part b/c the ff trout crowd I've met on the D have tended not to be the a-holes you describe. On the contrary. It doesn't mean these guys weren't, if there was a conflict at Oak Springs. But BNSF did the same thing at South Junction a few years ago, and there the story was that someone had contacted environmental authorities about BNSF dumping railroad ties into the river. Don't know whether that's true or not. But I don't necessarily take BNSF's word for it. Do you know anyone who was there? Always loved Oak Springs b/c if you don't mind walking, you had miles of river w/o the crowds.
 

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They had problems .... with people walking the line and not getting off them in time for the trains.
What? Lots of dead fishermen along side the tracks, were there? I can't imagine fishermen walking the tracks, and holding up trains. What kind of whacked rationale is that?!!?
 

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They had problems below the Oak Springs Hatchery during the Salmon Fly hatch with people walking the line and not getting off them in time for the trains. Also they were doing track repairs in that area and had people walk through were they were working. When asked to please get off the tracks by the work crews they were treated with abuse.
I am seeing this all over our State and not just with BNSF, Places we have had access for years being closed down to us because of a few A-Holes who leave trash and do not respect other peoples property. In 30 years I have never had a problem with BNSF and I know of times when the train crews have helped out folks who were in trouble on the lower Deschutes, It is just a shame.
I know anything is possible when it comes to the public, but I'm highly skeptical when it comes to BNSF management and convenient justifications for kicking fishermen off the banks of the Deschutes. I have never seen a whiff of negligence or the kind of behavior you are describing at South Junction over many years, and they've restricted access there as well. I became even more skeptical when I heard the revenge motive confirmed, albeit second hand but reliable, by two BNSF employees. I agree with you about the BNSF track gangs being courteous and helpful, but I want to defend my fellow fly fishermen, at least at S Jct.
 

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Anyone know the laws/history regarding railroad land and taxes?

If PGE doesn't pull their head out of their mule-fathers(Ass!), it won't matter much, the fish won't be pulling in to play with us! I wonder what Don Ratliff, the pge bio, has to say about the current state of affairs.

For those out of the loop, PGE has increased the river temperature enough to create algal slime (can't remember the name), literally destroyed the cranefly population, and hurt other invertebrates, and diminished the "draw" of colder water bringing in the upriver (Snake) BIG fish.

Do I sound pissed? Sorry to you, but not them!
 

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If I understand this correctly, this is private property and fly fisherman have been trespassing. And for <insert reason> BNSF is now enforcing the law against any violators? Previously they've been tolerant of the trespassing?

Thanks.
 

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If the RR is blocking access to public lands they should really provide some crossings. An occasional man bridge, mini crossing gate, etc. I think if enough people lobby for this we could make it happen.
 

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Stumpy,

Don Ratliff is my neighbor and is now retired, although I am sure he is staying connected I am just not sure in what fashion. I have had a few conversations with him. He is a very knowledgeable guy. I'll have to make some time to talk with him more about the issues you stated.
 

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I thought the Deschutes water temp regulations were coming from Oregon State fish and game or Federal level?

I'll give them credit for being proactive but, like most government agencies they tend to try to fix what isn't broken way too often. Personally I think it's impossible to restore a river system to its natural state without removing the dams altogether. Since the system is already messed up with dams it doesn't make sense to try to "restore" water temps to their natural state. Wasn't that the goal with the temperature regulation?
 

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What - your horns don't work?

The only time I have been spooked while walking to 51 was by a work crew in one of those rail-adapted trucks. ****ers never hit their horn and quite simply don't sound like a train. My bad? C'mon guys, lay on your horns. I guess BNSF wants us all to head to Next Adventure and buy a boat.
 

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I thought the Deschutes water temp regulations were coming from Oregon State fish and game or Federal level?

I'll give them credit for being proactive but, like most government agencies they tend to try to fix what isn't broken way too often. Personally I think it's impossible to restore a river system to its natural state without removing the dams altogether. Since the system is already messed up with dams it doesn't make sense to try to "restore" water temps to their natural state. Wasn't that the goal with the temperature regulation?

I'm sorry to the original poster for "railroading" this thread, but these are topics that draw out passion. I believe the entire PGE tower program was a part of mitigation by PGE toward re-licensing several years ago. Much of what they did required some initial oversight from agencies (odfw, confederated tribes, etc), but water releases (temperature regulation) has somehow been left up to PGE without sufficient review. Their water release strategy has come under significant scrutiny, and has evolved, but has not changed enough in the right direction.

In this case, the dams on the Deschutes have, until this project, provided cooler water to the lower river system by releasing water from the lower layers of the reservoir. This is, in essence, what has provided the cooler water regime all the way to the mouth of the Deschutes. The cooler water flowing into the Columbia is, to a large extent, what has lured upstream-bound steelhead into the Deschutes for a thermal "respite" before ultimately heading up the Columbia to their natal streams.

So here we have a situation robbing Peter to pay Paul. Manipulating the flows out of the reservoir has yielded a handful of salmon returns. It has also significantly degraded the lower river steelhead returns.

For a rational description of what has transpired, I suggest folks look up what the Deschutes River Alliance has posted (on their webpage) on the subject.
 

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Hey guys, I'm not a Deschutes fisherman, but I can imagine (as I'm sure you can) that if I had a privately-owned work site where I allowed fisherman to cross, and some abused that privilege in some manner, then I might consider blocking all access, too.

As would you.

I've seen the same sort of thing with private timber-land owners gating off their lands during hunting season because of the vandalism to their equipment done by a few yahoos. Hey man, I can't complain......it is their land. I believe Weyerhauser charged folks more than $300 just for access to hunt elk on some of their very elky property last year. But hey, it is their property.

Private property remains private property without some legal reversal or legislative fix.

The better solution here is approaching and working with BNSF to find a mutually acceptable solution. From their point, I'm sure fisherman (and others) hiking up and down their tracks do present a liability issue.
 

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I believe Weyerhauser charged folks more than $300 just for access to hunt elk on some of their very elky property last year. But hey, it is their property.
And thus the moniker "Whorehauser".

In the recent past, timberland owners used to consider themselves part of the local community and therefore valued their relationships with the public. With the new prominence of big corporate landowners, things are obviously changing, but I am dismayed to see how acquiescent and compliant the new generation of fishermen and hunters have become. There are many crossings along the tracks for private residences from Trout Creek down to North Junction. There should be a few to allow fishermen to access the river. The safety issue is a ruse.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Private property, yes, but there's a legal tradition involved here too, which has to do with the public trust. Navigable rivers are owned by the people of Oregon, and denying meaningful access to public waterways is to deprive the public the use of what it owns. It's not enough to say, for example, that one side of the river is accessible, or that people can get to it by boat. There's a good article in the Pace Environmental Law Review which covers the issue for NY State. It also gives a history of the problem.

http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1430&context=pelr
 

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Debarb, thank you for the link.

The biggest mistake we could make would be to give up our access without a struggle because of mistaken assumptions about "private property". The lands owned by big timber companies and railroads, which are historically connected, are in a different category, with different laws and more limited rights applying, than are residences, farmland, etc.. They were deeded to these companies for specific uses because of the public benefit, hence the term debarb uses: Public Trust. There is also an historical precedent of public access for certain uses, like fishing and hunting, on or across these lands, not just on the Deschutes.

So it's not a done deal because they "own" the property. At some point, the RR should work with the public or face the pushback.
 

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There is laws protecting recreational access, it has been upheld several times, one recently involving surfer's. It basically says any historical access has to be continued and easements can be forced on property owner. It would take some money(a very large amount I think) to sue and take them to court, a little diplomacy would be easier for both sides I think.
 

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From oregon.gov

Under the Using Oregon's Waterways heading (the original is in bold as well):

The Public Trust Doctrine gives you the right to use state-owned (or what are also termed "navigable") waterways (including submerged and submersible lands) for a wide variety of authorized uses including navigation, fisheries, recreation and commerce.

However, this doctrine is not a license to trespass on private land. Anyone crossing private land to reach state-owned public land and waterways must have permission from the landowner. The landowner is under no obligation to grant this permission.

As I said before, work with the landowner, not against them.
 
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