Group Still Claims Preserve Threatens Forest Access, It Doesn’t

An informal neighborhood group calling themselves Saving Open Space Corvallis, or S.O.S., has been campaigning that a planned development atop Timberhill threatens public access to Mac Forest, but when we spoke with them, they backpedaled. It turns out, there will be public access, and they know it.  

The Preserve Housing Development under the direction of developer Jim Boeder includes improved public access to the OSU-authorized Quercus Meadow Trail, but it also means the end of a few unofficial neighborhood trails that the university prefers be done away with.   

The Actual Access Plans  

What S.O.S. did not acknowledge were the efforts the land developer put into saving the unofficial access points. During a neighborhood meeting last summer, Boeder informed the group that he had planned to keep the paths. However, what he did not know then was that OSU would direct him otherwise – his official plans could only include authorized access points.   

Still, the university has worked closely with Boeder to ensure official entrances will continue to allow plenty of public access. 

OSU did not want an official improved extended trail going to the forest, nor was it deemed safe to have it cross the future road. Although not required to do so, Boeder has decided to make improvements to the trail on his property where it continues further down the hill, below Goldfinch Drive.  

The land developer also emphasized his plans for upgrading and maintaining the Quercus Trail.  These improvements include a five-foot-wide by 2,000-foot-long gravel surface to make the often-muddy trail safer.   

Boeder expressed frustration with the S.O.S. messaging, saying they have known his plans from the beginning to continue allowing public access through the property.  

What is S.O.S. Saying? 

S.O.S. has been running campaigns throughout Corvallis to promote their opposition to The Preserve. The messaging on their ads, signage, and fliers emphasize that the development will “THREATEN access to McDonald Forest Trails,” while their website claims that “forest access would be greatly reduced or eliminated for many outdoor enthusiasts.”  

The S.O.S. GoFundMe, run by Timberhill neighbor Barbara Naimark, who lives very near the property in question, says, “The developer’s proposal limits the current dirt paths used by many area hikers, walkers, and cyclists to access the Forest.” 

However, there has been some confusion surrounding the group’s messaging on sanctioned access versus eliminating trails on private property. Naimark claimed that when S.O.S. speaks to the public, they intend to make people aware that the contention is over the unauthorized entrances – i.e., the “dirt paths” – to Mac Forest  

Naimark acknowledged to The Advocate during a visit to the area that the developer has committed to upgrading a public easement to the Quercus Meadow Trail. She made sure to note this was a change from Boeder’s original proposal, which she said had been more ambiguous.  

Yet, as the group’s social media manager, she has neither rephrased nor deleted the points emphasizing the supposed lack of forest access or maintained trails.  

“I can understand why OSU doesn’t want people to use the ‘unofficial’ trails,” said Timberhill resident Paul Klopping during a recent visit to the area. “You can see the soil erosion caused by hikers and mountain bikers who use those paths.”   

Klopping, who owns 14 acres kitty-corner to Mac Forest and the southside of the 41.45-acre property owned by developer Jim Boeder, is part of the S.O.S. group which has been opposing the development above their homes. Klopping said he has walked these trails for over 20 years and doesn’t want to see them change, allowing future generations to feel the same connection to nature he has enjoyed.  

The Limitations 

Paul Bilotta, Community Development Director for the City of Corvallis, has confirmed multiple times both in public meetings and to The Advocate during interviews and our March 8 CitySpeak livestream that the community will continue to have access to Mac Forest.  

Sharing the university’s view, Bilotta recently stated that “the surrounding neighborhoods will still have full access to the Quercus Meadow Trail, which is the only authorized trail that [owner of Mac Forest] OSU has that connects to this area. OSU has indicated it wants the Quercus Meadow Trail to continue to be the only access point to the McDonald Forest from this property. All other pathways that may be on the site now are unauthorized by OSU.”  

According to the Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 105.692, the right to continued use of land following permitted use can be applied in this situation. The statute essentially states that although people have had access to a property for recreational purposes in the past, that doesn’t guarantee continued access in the future. Access is based on the current owner’s consent, and while the public may have enjoyed the dirt paths that were made once the property was opened up after being logged by a previous owner, that doesn’t mean OSU or Boeder have to agree to their usage now.  

Further, while Klopping and Naimark were quick to point out all the issues they have with the development, no solutions were offered – just expressions of their desire to keep this parcel above their homes vacant. We also interviewed group member Pam Burnor, who lives a little further downhill, and her viewpoint is similar, and she is also a member of S.O.S.  

City Council Hears Testimony Monday Night  

When asked if the land could become a park, Boeder said he has told the neighbors that he would be willing to sell it – to them or to the city. But he has yet to see any initiative on that front, so he is moving forward with his development plans.  

The next step is for the City Council to hear public testimony for the land use application. The next meeting will take place on Monday, March 21, at 6:00 p.m. Boeder will present his application, and there will be opportunities for testimonials from differing viewpoints. To read more about the application, and for those who want to register for the meeting, visit the Notice Of Land Use Public Hearing notice.  

Also of note, the homeowners group has made claims concerning intensified wildfire and flooding risks should the land be developed. The developer has addressed these issues in his planning documents. 

By Stacey Newman Weldon 

Correction: In our original article we misspelled the last name of Pam Burnor. It has been fixed.

Do you have a story for The Advocate? Email