HERMISTON - Local putters could be playing on a brand-new 18-hole golf course by fall of 2004, if a local developer's plan to convert an old cattle feedlot takes shape.

The Desert Falls Golf Course would be built on the site of the former C&B feedlot off Feedville Road, just south of the Hermiston city limits.

The project will be a boon for local golfers, said Christy Wooliams, who's part of HWC, Inc., the owner and developer for the project.

"I think there's definitely a need for it," she said.

The golf course project may eventually be expanded to include a new housing development, but Wooliams said she didn't know how many homes might be built, or when. The developer's county land-use application for Desert Falls does not include homes.

Any approval for construction of new homes would probably take about a year, and the start of construction would probably be two or more years away, according to a letter sent by HWC to local property owners.

HWC plans to ask the city of Hermiston to annex the part of the property where the home sites might eventually be built.

Converting the old feedlot into a golf course is no simple task. According to the letter from HWC, several old structures, fencing and other materials already have been removed from the site. Most of the manure left behind by the cattle will be dug up, screened and hauled off site for composting. Some of the manure may also be used on site.

Desert Falls would be Hermiston's first golf course and the sixth in Hermiston-Pendleton area. The Umatilla Golf and Country Club is just north of town. Echo and Boardman each have a golf course, and Pendleton has two.

When the feedlot was in operation, city residents frequently complained about the smell and dust it created, and when it closed city leaders were eager to see a less obtrusive industry use the land.

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