A Central Oregon developer has pulled an application to purchase 400 acres of state-owned land. It’s the latest change for what has been one of the region’s most controversial developments, as first reported by the Redmond Spokesman.
The proposed purchase for the Thornburgh Resort would have been at Cline Buttes, a popular recreation area near Redmond.
The announcement came less than a week before the Oregon State Land Board was scheduled to discuss the purchase at its Aug. 9 meeting.
In a July 29 letter, Thornburgh developer Kameron DeLashmutt told the Department of State Lands that inaccurate statements had been made about the development resort, although he did not specify what inaccuracies those were.
“I am very distressed by the inaccurate statements being made about the history of this lease, the purchase application, and the Thornburgh Resort project,” he wrote. “I am no longer interested in purchasing the land at this time. That may change but at the present that is my position.”
The Thornburgh Resort has been under discussion since 2005, according to state records, and has been heavily litigated in the following years. The proposed resort consists of nearly 2,000 acres and could have hundreds of single-family homes by completion.
Opponents have criticized the potential water usage once the resort, which has proposed golf courses and thousands of housing units, opens to the public.
The concerns come as an increasing number of Deschutes County residents are digging deeper wells because groundwater in the region is declining. The area, like much of the West, is experiencing protracted drought conditions.
DeLashmutt said in a written statement to OPB that the resort is attempting to reduce its environmental impact, mainly by keeping density and water usage to a minimum. He did not specify what long-term impacts this could have on the project.
Central Oregon LandWatch, a nonprofit that aims to protect public lands in the region, has long advocated against the purchase due to the potential impact on public access. Ben Gordon, the organization’s executive director, said the decision to pull the application was a welcomed surprise.
“We look at this as a monumental victory for public lands users here in Central Oregon,” Gordon said by phone Wednesday.