Thursday, June 14, 2007

Protecting The Metolius - John and Vicki Hornbeck, Camp Sherman

About twenty years ago, my wife, two small children, and I were able to spend a month on the Metolius River. We explored the Metolius Basin by foot, bicycle, and horseback. We were forever impacted by the diverse pristine beauty of the river and its tributaries. Shortly thereafter, we moved to Sisters from Boulder Colorado and maintained a steady schedule of camping, biking, and fishing on the Metolius.

About 6 years ago, a dream was realized when purchased the Metolius River Lodges, 13 cabins on the river with 1950s charm. Our guests are mostly second and third generation vacationers, birders, fisherman (and women), and families introducing their young children to the unique beauty of the Metolius. A number of our friends and guests are appalled at the prospect of mammoth resort developments which would have an irrevocable adverse impact on the river and its supporting ecosystem.

After 20 years in the Sisters area, we have noticed the effects of climate change, which so far have not visibly altered the Metolius. However with the massive water demands of the proposed destination resorts coupled with diminished snow pack, there is a great likelihood of irreparable damage on the Basin’s water table and the springs and tributaries, which have formed the Metolius for centuries. Once the river flow is disturbed, there is no man made “quick fix”.

The Bulletin several editorials against SB30 insinuate that the aim of SB30 is to protect the value of Senator Becky Johnson’s (D.Scappose) Metolius homestead. The Bulletin raises the classic “red herring” and demeans the memory of a true Oregonian. The late Becky Johnson, the matriarch of the Friends of the Metolius donated the viewing area of the Headwaters of the Metolius so that thousands of visitors, could be awestruck at the humble origin of a 22 mile Wild and Scenic river.

In probably her last public appearance last fall in Camp Sherman at a meeting of the Jefferson County Planning Commission, Becky Johnson passionately argued against the establishment of any destination resorts, which could harm the Metolius Basin ecosystem.

To equate Betsy Johnson co-sponsorship of SB30 with personal greed does a disservice to her mother who was revered in this community.

The absurdity of the Bulletin argument is that Becky Johnson’s property on the Metolius are almost priceless. The proposed destination resorts could not diminish the economic value of her land, and in fact might even enhance it. The only real monetary gain is for the developers of the resorts who hope to make millions selling second homes to wealthy investors. Of course, the Jefferson County Commissioners are focused solely on adding to their tax base rent. Over the years, they have paid scant attention to Camp Sherman except to raise the transit lodging tax on the guests to stay in the area.

By couching this issue as a local government right to exercise its land use power, the Bulletin intentional ignores the real issue of the States interest in responsibility to preserve a national treasure admired and enjoyed by Oregonians and visitors from all over the world. With a designation as a wild and scenic rivers the many books on its geography, bird and wild life, native bull trout, it is clear that the Metolius is a unique creation. No local government, golf resort developer, or even private landowners like us, “owns” the Metolius. We can only count our blessings that we are privileged to enjoy its unspoiled beauty and preserve the Metolius for future generations.

John & Vickie Hornbeck
Metolius River Lodges
Camp Sherman, Oregon

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