An exclusive tiny home village in the wilderness or the long overdue restoration of a much-loved rustic retreat? The fate of Bagby Hot Springs is up in the air – and up to you.
On June 8th, Mt. Hood National Forest announced that Bagby Hot Springs, a much loved historic site and the top trail destination on the Forest, was up for bid, applications are due August 30th, with a new concessionaire to be awarded the contract by December 31st.
Here is our assessment of the development potential afforded by the prospectus.
A quick scan of the prospectus provided by the Forest Service reveals Bagby Hot Springs is at risk for development into a backcountry resort.
It’s pretty clear the Forest Service expects a lot from the future operator. The duration of the next contract is for 20 years and it is expected that the new operator will clean up major messes left behind by the current contractor, California Land Management (CLM). Why CLM has not been held accountable for the degradation of these historic and important facilities is unknown. Why the Forest Service didn’t step in to protect their own investments and property is unknown. It could be a lack of resources on the part of the agency. We simply do not know what machinations or lack of due care allowed this unique gem to degrade to the point where community-built structures and a National Register of Historic Places-listed building are slated for demolition, per the prospectus.
Regardless, the meager and declining income reported by CLM over the last three years, if similar income is obtained by the next for-profit operator, it will not support the work and staffing required in the prospectus. That leaves increasing existing camping and soaking fees or creating new, exclusive and higher priced accommodations to raise the funds the Forest Service demands.
This prospectus allows for an 8-bed rental cabin, tiny homes, yurts and tent platforms to be permitted at the hot springs. From our surveys and communications with thousands of people who love Bagby, very few if any are interested in this kind of development or the exclusivity that comes with it. There is no consideration given in the prospectus to the fact that Bagby is surrounded by wilderness and operators should be mindful.
Compounding the prospect of massive development at the hot springs, the Forest Service calls for lockable shut-off valves to be installed on water sources to prohibit off-season use. The flowing waters at Bagby Hot Springs have never had an off-season and have been available to people for thousands of years.
Overall, the prospectus is conflicted on the point of the Historic Shed associated in the NRHP listing with the log cabin. The prospectus calls for the shed to be preserved as well as demolished.
Fortunately, there is another option than for-profit driven development of this sacred space in the wilderness: community-supported, non-profit management. That’s Bagby Conservation Collective.
Elements of the June 2021 Prospectus for Campground and Related Granger-Thye Concessions Mt. Hood National Forest, Bagby Hot Springs and Campground that support development or demolition at Bagby Hot Springs
June 2021 Prospectus (page numbers represent PDF page count)
Pg. 5. “One resort permit will be issued, and the permit term will be set for twenty (20) years,
Pg. 7. “A bunkhouse that sleeps eight is also located at Bagby Hot Springs. This structure would require extensive renovation to be habitable; however, it could be utilized as an overnight rental or hosts’ accommodations once repairs were made.”
Pg. 7. “Proposals to install or construct non-permanent structures for overnight accommodations in the hot springs area may be considered (e.g. yurts, tiny houses, tent platforms, and such).”
Pg. 8. “The Forest Service will consider additional development that is consistent with the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum category of “Roaded Natural Settings” but is not restricted to the historic requirements at the Bagby Hot Springs.”
Pg. 11. “Adaptive reuse of these historic properties is authorized provided the measures outlined by the Forest Service in a Historic Property Plan are followed to adequately ensure their preservation.”
Pg. 169. “Recommendation: Demolish the structure and remove all existing materials. Dismantle all timber, cut into transportable lengths, bundle and remove from USFS property, and properly dispose of materials.”
Pg. 170. “…Following removal of Bathhouse #2…”
Pg. 172. “Bathhouse #2, Private Facility. This building is recommended to be shut down at the end of this season and demolished at the earliest opportunity.”
Pg. 172. “Following the demolition of Bathhouse #2,”
Pg. 175. “A gate valve could also be installed on both supply lines to shut off supply to the bath facilities to discourage seasonal use of the facilities. The gate valve would need to be lockable, or installed in a lockable valve box, and would be best if buried underground.”
Please write us at info@Bagbycc.org with your comments and concerns.