Federal land managers recently bought more than 4,000 acres in Oregon to expand recreational access along the Lower John Day Wild and Scenic River.
Sherman County records show the Bureau of Land Management closed a deal Aug. 30, paying the Western Rivers Conservancy $3.81 million for a property known as McDonald’s Ferry Ranch.
“It’s an opportunity for folks to go out and enjoy that area,” said BLM spokesperson Kaitlyn Webb. “It’s also an opportunity for us to help restore the ecosystem and maintain the health of that property.”
Located downstream of Cottonwood Canyon State Park, the property spans about 3 miles of the John Day River and 3 miles of Grass Valley Canyon Creek.
“Critically for boaters and anglers, the project will secure permanent access to the last viable boater take-out on the lower John Day, which makes the seven-mile float from the northern edge of Cottonwood Canyon State Park possible,” Western Rivers Conservancy’s website states.
The ranch is named for a historic Oregon Trail ferry that carried settlers across a shallow bend in the river. “Even today, century-old wheel ruts are visible on the property, carved into the desert floor by the countless wagons that carried people west to the Willamette Valley in the 1800s,” according to the conservancy.
A BLM press release announced this week that the area is now open to the public via McDonald’s Ferry Lane. For river use, permits are required through www.Recreation.gov. There are currently no restroom facilities or potable water.