The rugged beauty of Barnes Butte is a great opportunity for Prineville. The city owns 460 acres there close to town and is trying to come up with the best plan for using it.

What should the plan be?

More trails? ADA accessibility? Frisbee golf? Keep it as natural as possible? Something else? If you live in Prineville, get involved in making those decisions.

On Friday at 5:30 p.m., the city is holding a community barbecue next to Barnes Butte Elementary. There will be wagon rides to help people see the area’s potential. On Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Barnes Butte Elementary, volunteers from the Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects will be presenting ideas for the butte.

There’s been a lot of community input. Perhaps the most special was from students at Barnes Butte Elementary. City staff deputized students as “junior planners” to get them involved. At first, students were thinking baseball and soccer fields and swimming pools, Prineville City Engineer and Public Works Director Eric Klann said. After visiting the butte, there was much more interest in keeping it as open space. Students also wanted to make it more accessible to people with less mobility because of challenges a student who was in a wheelchair faced.

Many local landmarks have the names of historical figures people may not remember. Barnes Butte is named for Elisha Barnes, one of the early white settlers in the area. The butte was the site of a cinnabar mine in the 1940s, which was a common source of mercury. The Bureau of Land Management completed a cleanup of that site in 2015. The city bought the land in 2017.

The city has punched through some trails. And there has been a lot more work aimed at the future. The city has long been trying to secure the 160 acres at the top of the butte from the BLM. The BLM told us it will work on some sort of long-term agreement. Planning efforts have gotten help from technical support from the National Park Service. Your input is important to shape the final plan. Get involved.

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