Commissioners delay High Heaven gate decision for a week

To gate or not to gate, that is the question.   But, Yamhill County Counsel Christian Boenisch says it’s not an easy issue to resolve. The gate on High Heaven road is becoming the poster child for the issues of gating or not gating rural roads in the hills above McMinnville in Yamhill County.

Sportsmen want gates removed if they prevent access to prime hunting grounds. Residents who live on the other sides of the gates say they are tired of parties and the dumping of trash, or people knocking on their door in the middle of the night to pull them out of getting stuck.

Resident Mary Bryant has been in front of the commissioners several times on this issue. Today, she said she is confused on the action the county has taken and asked for clarification today. She wants the gate open for the public to access public land.

Weyerhauser holds the permit for the gate on High Heaven Road, and they have told the county they want the gate locked OPEN. They want the gate to stay there, just in case they have to close it and restrict access for seasonal issues like fire danger. But they don’t want anyone locked in on the mountain side of the gate, so they want it locked open.

Beonisch says it’s a complicated issue of who needs to provide maintenance to the roads and how the road is classified, be it a public road or local access road.

The county doesn’t want to get into the business of handing out gate keys or policing access to the gate. County commissioners are sympathetic to residents who are tired of dumping. Commissioners are also listening to sportsmen and the public who want access to public lands.

Weyerhauser says High Heaven is not the only access to public lands in that area.
The county’s attorney says he needs another week to sort through the legal issues and will come back to commissioners next Thursday regarding opening the gate, and the following Thursday or two will be talking about other issues like road maintenance and dumping concerns

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