Oregon state sells land near former Rajneesh commune to youth camp

OregonLive.com, USA/April 11, 2007
By Matthew Preusch

The state has agreed to sell a 480-acre parcel surrounded by the former Rajneesh compound in central Oregon to a Christian youth camp that now owns the defunct commune's land.

Since opening in 1998, the camp run by Colorado-based Young Life has leased the state land, which covers part of the compound’s sewer lagoon.

“We’re pleased we were able to come to an agreement with Young Life on this parcel,” said Steve Purchase, assistant director of land management for the Department of State Lands. “Since this parcel is completely surrounded by land owned by Young Life, it makes sense for them to buy this acreage.”

The State Land Board approved the land sale for $153,475.88. The state will retain mineral rights on the land.

The sewer lagoons were built by the Rajneeshees, the red-frocked followers of the late Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose commune occupied the 100-square-mile former Big Muddy Ranch in the early 1980s.

The 65,000-acre Big Muddy was donated to Young Life by Montana philanthropists Dennis and Phyllis Washington. They bought it at auction after the Rajneesh commune dissolved following the prosecution of several members for the poisoning of public officials in a failed attempt to take over Wasco County government.

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