Don Lindly Park is a small, nine-acre park on the Alsea River, above Waldport. Though small, it has an outsize and tangled history, and its future is up in the air.
Lindly Park is owned by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which purchased it in 2014, using a variety of grants and donations, with intent to provide more boating public access. However, ODFW leases it to Lincoln County for day-to-day management. The park is currently largely undeveloped and rustic, and contains a small wetland and old growth trees. There is no motorized boat launch, only an informal, undeveloped kayak launch area.
There have been many development proposals for this small isolated park, with the Oregon State Marine Board providing much of the vision and all of the technical expertise. All the proposals have included the concept of a large motorized boat launch and parking lot. One concept was for a boat ramp with twenty-five trailer spaces. A later, larger, proposal included a much-expanded parking area to accommodate fifty trailer spaces and twenty vehicle spaces, as well as a motorized boat launch. The Department of State Lands turned down this last proposal. There are no current development plans for the park.
The original 2014 lease between ODFW and Lincoln County in 2015 specified that the county had to gain a conditional use permit from the Planning Department – though no specific development scenario was described. The lease was to terminate at the end of 2016 if there was no active permit. The lease is, therefore, void, as the county does not have a conditional use permit for a motorized boat launch or any other development
Meantime, between 2014 and 2023, the people of Lincoln County have enjoyed a quiet, uncrowded, large unspoiled park that has only a small gravel parking lot. People go bank fishing, swim, picnic, kayak and canoe, watch wildlife and birds. But the old concept of a motorized boat launch, the original vision of ODFW, keeps rearing its head, and in Spring 2023, Lincoln County held public meetings to determine what the park’s future should be. There was overwhelming support for keeping Lindly natural, quiet and undeveloped.
Lincoln County has the option of purchasing the park from ODFW in order to keep it natural, rather than develop it in the ways ODFW considers appropriate. ORCA provided testimony during the public meetings, urging the County to take this option: apply for grants to purchase Lindly, so that the County can manage it as the peaceful rural park residents of the area prefer.
To do otherwise would not only cross the wishes of a majority of area residents, it would also bring a great deal more traffic to a narrow rural road, destroy a local wetland and old growth forest, and increase the motorized boat traffic on the already shallow, and frequently crowded, Alsea River. Finally, under the current regime, Lincoln County, as the park lessee, spends money on managing the park for ODFW, but has no say in how it is developed. The County would do better to own this little gem of a park, and manage it for its residents in the ways they have made clear they would prefer.