June 2, 2015

Dear Sisters Leadership Group Member,

I am contacting you today to provide you with a report on the mediation efforts of Oregon Solutions, Oregon’s official program for agreement seeking and conflict resolution around public issues and policy. I asked Oregon Solutions to study and propose an action plan for community engagement around the proposed and contested Black Butte to Sisters paved trail. Over the past few months, Oregon Solutions staff has worked to encourage a respectful dialogue between opponents and proponents of the proposed trail. I have supported them through this two month effort and am saddened to report that they are not able to bring key parties to the table for a facilitated discussion.

During the March 19th Sisters leadership group meeting that I called, the participants overwhelming supported Oregon Solutions’ proposal to pursue a Community Led Agreement Seeking Process where leaders on both sides of the trail issue would be invited to meet and work towards some level of consensus. When a meeting at the consensus building level did not appear possible, Oregon Solutions staff redirected its efforts to organizing a facilitated meeting known as an Interest Best Discussion. The discussion was intended for parties to gather in a neutral forum to build mutual understanding about their concerns and interests; explore what if any next steps might make sense. There would be no predetermined outcomes, no expectation for agreement or consensus, only a hope for better understanding of each side’s concerns. This organized, respectful dialogue has not received adequate support from the trail objectors. At this point, Oregon Solutions has reported to me that they will cease their facilitation efforts, but with the caveat that they will reconsider if the situation should change. Attached is the official summary of Oregon Solutions’ work on the proposed paved trail.

My ultimate goal is to engage Sisters Country in a robust discussion and organize a process to reconsider a paved path from Black Butte Ranch to Sisters. I have received many emails and calls, and spoken with many people who support the trail concept. I believe that I should act on their request for trail reintroduction. The USFS has asked that there be proof provided to them of widespread community support for a paved trail. I will support organized efforts, over the summer, to encourage Sisters Country residents and visitors to voice their views about and support for the Black Butte trail:

· Outreach to community and visitors during public events & festivals

· Letters and ads of support in the local newspaper

· Presentations to organizations and leadership groups

· Requests for official ‘letters of support’ to include with my letter to the USFS

· Launching of a social media survey to gauge the level of interest in and use of the proposed trail

My goal is by late August to provide the Sisters District Ranger with a report on the community outreach efforts and to submit a letter requesting that the Black Butte paved trail be reconsidered. I will provide this official letter to you for review before it is submitted.

At this point I invite you as business and community leaders to encourage others to write letters in support of the paved trail. It would also be helpful to include your letter of support for the trail in the packets that I submit to the USFS in August. Feel free to email me or mail me your letter, if you are willing. Please send written correspondence to my attention at PO Box 6005, Bend, OR 97708.

Thank you for your time, interest and support. I plan to stay engaged with this effort including outreach, NEPA process then work on funding for construction.


Alan Unger, Commissioner

Deschutes County

1300 NW Wall St., STE 200

Bend, OR 97701


Office: 541-388-6569, Cell: 541-419-0556