Thornburgh Facing Appeals Over Water Use | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Thornburgh Facing Appeals Over Water Use

The resort is once again facing opposition after a Deschutes County hearing officer rejected a new plan to mitigate water loss

More hearings are ahead for Thornburgh Resort, the new development near Cline Buttes, after a Deschutes County hearing officer rejected a new fish and wildlife mitigation plan. Both the developer, Kameron Delashmutt, and a longtime opponent of the resort, Nunzie Gould, appealed the decision. The hearings officer cited a lack of input from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and insufficient oversite as reasons for the denial.

click to enlarge Thornburgh Facing Appeals Over Water Use
Jack Harvel
Construction has already started on infrastructure in the long-contested Thornburgh Resort.

Delashmutt's appeal asks the county to interpret the procedural requirements he needs to fulfill and to review the "no net loss" standard — which guarantees developments don't degrade wetlands.

Gould, who's battled the proposed development through legal processes for over a decade, also appealed the hearing officer's decision, claiming a new conceptual and final master plan are necessary, that there are significant changes made that aren't reflected in the master plans, that ODFW and the Bureau of Land Management must agree the "no net loss" standard is met and more.

Thornburgh's new fish and wildlife mitigation plan claims it'll use 30% less water than the current plan, which was approved in 2008, from 2,129 acre-feet per year to 1,460 acre-feet per year. The property itself is nearly 2,000 acres and the master plan consists of an 18-hole golf course, several lakes and 950 homes. The reduced water estimates come from a modified plan that is scaling back on resort amenities and modified landscaping.

On Jan. 3, 2022, ODFW Water Program Manager Chandra Ferrari and the Deschutes Watershed District Manager Corey Heath submitted a letter to Deschutes County planners arguing that the mitigation plan approved in 2008 is based on outdated information on how groundwater withdrawals would impact fish habitats in the Deschutes River.

"It is becoming increasingly unlikely that the mitigation agreed upon in 2008 will offset the loss or net degradation of fish and wildlife habitat quantity and quality and provide a net benefit to the resource due to ongoing declines in groundwater and streamflow," Ferrari and Heath wrote.

The issue will appear before commissioners first as a work session on Jan. 23, before a public hearing on Feb. 1

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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