Friday, June 15, 2007

Oregonian Letters To the Editor Supporting Senate Bill 30

The Oregonian posted three letters today, all in support of SB 30. See them here.

Metolius: Preserve this natural treasure

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Oregonian's call for a land-use process that the people of Oregon can believe in is laudable ("Yes, this river must be saved," June 10). But restoring public faith in a broken system will take many years of hard work. In the meantime, the fate of the Metolius River hangs in the balance.

The Oregon Legislature has a long history of passing laws that rein in development when treasured places are threatened -- the coast and Columbia River Gorge are prime examples.

Thousands of Oregonians are incredulous that Jefferson County would even consider allowing destination resorts within a stone's throw of the Metolius River. Senate Bill 30 won't restore public faith in the land-use process, but it will prevent the irreparable loss of one of Oregon's most treasured natural places and preserve it for all future generations of Oregonians to enjoy. It should be passed for that reason alone.


My family has been visiting the Metolius River since the 1950s because it is an extraordinary Oregon place that is best preserved just the way it is. More destination resorts nearby will destroy the peaceful quality of the basin and overrun the area with traffic, pollution, crowds, vegetation trampling and overfishing.

This landmark Oregon place needs special protection; our broken land use system cannot protect the Metolius.

Our state land use system has been severely compromised by legislative amendments at the behest of the development industry, one amendment at a time over the past 15 years. Little by little, the intent of the system has been undermined, most significantly by the destination resort amendment, but also by the 20-year land supply requirements, prohibition on inclusionary zoning and others. It is time to put a stop to the unraveling of what makes Oregon so special.

I have worked in the Deschutes National Forest for the past 18 years and also have been a planning commissioner and city councilor in Bend. Thus I have had a front-row seat watching this special region converted from a charming place to runaway growth. We need better laws to protect Oregon's special places.


Your editorial said it all -- "The Metolius River is one of Oregon's natural wonders . . . (a) magical place . . .." So, what more do we need to know?

The question is simple. Should county officials have discretion to "rezone" a natural wonder just so developers can profit? Should they be able to liquidate the timeless quietude of the Metolius to line developers' pockets?

Their actions underscore the very reason we have a state Legislature -- to protect Oregon's irreplaceable natural assets. Some places should be beyond a developer's reach, and this is one of them.

Let's not fool ourselves. The Metolius River Basin will never be the same if developed. Destination resorts are the pig in the parlor. Houses, roads, cars, exhaust and traffic don't match up to whispering pines, roaming deer and elk, Indian paintbrush, and quietude.

What other facts do we really need to know? The Metolius River Basin is a natural endowment for all Oregonians. The state Legislature is duty-bound to ensure that it is protected, not plundered.

ERSKINE WOOD for the Erskine Biddle Wood family Vancouver

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