Friday, March 6, 2009

LandWatch Fights for Tighter Metolius Protections

Central Oregon LandWatch is pushing legislation that would go further toward restricting resort development near the Metolius - as well as other areas in Jefferson

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Central Oregon LandWatch is pushing legislation that would go further toward restricting resort development near the Metolius - as well as other areas in Jefferson County - than the plan developed by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission.


As described on LandWatch's website, HB 3100 would:

  1. "Accept and modify LCDC's recommendation to designate the Metolius Basin and area of interest as an Area of Critical State Concern ('ACSC').
  2. "Stipulate that destination resorts will not be located within this ACSC.
  3. "Direct LCDC to supplement its management plan in order to ensure that new development within the ACSC will not negatively impact the Metolius River, including its headsprings and tributaries. It also ensures that new development within the ACSC will not negatively impact fish and wildlife resources within the ACSC."

HB 3100 was introduced Wednesday by Reps. Brian Clem (D-Salem) and Ben Cannon (D-Portland), with a number of other co-sponsors. The bill "should be receiving a committee assignment soon, and when we have more information on where it's heading and when hearings will be scheduled, we'll be back in touch to let you know," the website says.

According to LandWatch Executive Director Erik Kancler, one major difference between HB 3100 and the LCDC proposal is that the former doesn't offer the "consolation prize" of letting the two Metolius destination resort developers relocate their projects near agricultural land at Round Butte - a move that the area's rural residents oppose.

"We're impressed that DLCD has recognized the need to offer strong protection for the Metolius Basin and with the comprehensive approach they've taken with their most recent draft management plan," Kancler e-mailed The Eye. "We are disappointed with the element of their proposal that allows the siting of resorts near productive agricultural lands in the Round Butte area of Jefferson County. (In fact the land they've proposed to allow the resorts to be sited on has high class soils itself and just needs a steady water supply to be brought into production.) This is land that is currently not eligible for destination resort mapping and which runs the risk of negatively impacting nearby farms.

"These developers have no rights" - because Jefferson County's decision to remap their properties to allow destination resorts is still under court appeal - "so it makes little sense to 'transfer' them into existence elsewhere. If the state wants to throw Jefferson County a bone, it should pass a strong Metolius protection act and then give the county an opportunity to attempt to map resorts elsewhere without having to wait the required 30 months."

Besides that, Kancler added, HB 3100 "is asking that the ACSC go a bit further in addressing potential concerns from future developments and would help to ensure that any future developments that are sited in the basin are truly 'eco.'"

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