I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you, our patrons, what is going on with Lehman. With Thanksgiving now over and Christmas and the New Year just around the corner, I wanted to reflect and share my thoughts with you.

I am thankful for God’s gift of the hot water and its soul healing qualities that many people find. The fact that the water just flows out of the earth instead of being heated and treated with chemicals makes it all the more special. I especially enjoy soaking at night, with the lights off, looking up into the heavens. I love sharing the experience with family and friends and that is why we started allowing people who stay in the lodge to have 24 hour access to the pools. It’s amazing how many stars you can see because we are so far from any city lights.

Lehman Hot Springs has a special place in our hearts because of the opportunities it provides us to enjoy times with our friends and families. I especially enjoy the smiles on children’s faces and seeing the anticipation the children have to get into the pool. Parents especially like the fact that the kids are worn out after a day at Lehman and Mom and Dad know that they will have a quiet evening together.

I always look forward to hunting season. I love seeing tired and cold hunters come to Lehman for a shower and a soak. I enjoy listening to all of their stories, feeling the excitement in the air during elk season. The anticipation that even the old hunters have is very much like it was for them as a child coming to Lehman. We see many of the same people year after year.

So many people tell me “I used to go up there as a kid”. People from all over and all walks of life tell me this time and again. It is truly amazing. It inspires me to try to make it a better place for everyone.

When I first purchased Lehman in 1992-93, I was contemplating making it private. My wife and I were walking through the woods in the snow and she said no, we can’t make it private, it really isn’t ours. We are just its caretakers for a while. We need to keep it open for everyone to enjoy. It has been very difficult to manage from afar. So you know, I develop property in the Valley so that I can invest in Lehman to make it a better place. It is a labor of love, believe me. I have tried very hard to make Lehman a better place than it was when I first found it, but it’s not what I had hoped to do for it.

We may need to make it “semi-private” as financially, especially in light of all the government regulations, it has become increasingly difficult to operate. It could be several years before we are allowed to use the sewer system again. We sent in our permit renewal and DEQ held on to it for five and a half years before returning it to us this past spring. Then they claimed we were operating without a permit. While technically true, it is disingenuous to make such a claim.

The state has made false claims against us that we were pumping sewage into the creek, which we have never done. The science is on our side, but it just doesn’t matter to them. We have received very bad press, most of it untrue. We have our issues but we have never harmed the environment. We take it seriously. The state would like to condemn the property and return it to the wild. We are in a very heated battle and I will fight to the bitter end. It’s pretty tough going up against an attorney general that ran on a campaign of “cleaning up the environment and cracking down on polluters,” especially when they made claims that they thought were true but turned out not to be. They painted themselves into a corner and would have egg on their face if they lose. They have unlimited resources, I do not.

I know that the struggle could take quite a bit of time. We might not prevail. I do not know what the future holds. We would appreciate your support and prayers. We will continue to press on and to take the high road, no matter how difficult.

We decided to close for the winter and use the opportunity to remodel the Lodge. We will send you an invitation to come see what we’ve done sometime next spring. We hope to see you again at Lehman Hot Springs in the future.

Wishing you and your family the best this year,

J.  Patrick Lucas

 


Comments

Ted Thorpe
01/28/2013 10:48pm

My family and i do miss the hot springs i have lived in La Grande for almost 40 years and have been to Lehman countless times, just before they shut it down we had a family gathering with over 40 of us it made many wonderfull memories. All of our family would love to be able to come back we have talked to many new locals about the hot spings and wish that they could have some of the same experience. Has anyone thought about setting up a fund raiser and talking to local companies. May god bless and pray that the goverment sees the light.

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Robyn Smith
03/01/2013 11:47am

We miss you!! Please come back. It's been too long. We moved to Denver a little over two years ago but we return every March to attend the Crab Feed up in Halfway. My husband and I have very fond memories of soaking under the stars and we hope to be able to do that again some day. We are planning our trip over for next week and we were so hopeful Lehman had re-opened up but sadly enough... not yet. Our thoughts are with the family and we hope this all works out in the end. -Robyn Smith

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03/03/2013 7:51pm

Please let me know of your re-opening. My husband and I will be traveling to La Grande and had hoped to stay at Lehman Hot Springs. So sorry to hear of all the "legal stuff." You will be in our thoughts and prayers.
God bless,
Michele

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