LandWatch Press Coverage

Click on the links to the right to read press coverage of LandWatch Lane County.

Eulogy for an Eco-Advocate
Tom Giesen: June 25, 1940 – March 4, 2017

Many of the relatives, friends and colleagues gathered at Tom Giesen’s memorial on a sunny April afternoon at McKenzie River Eco-Lodge had been joggers, cyclists and hikers on the treks Tom led for decades. The adventures they described clearly tested their fortitude and often their patience but ultimately gained their admiration and respect for a man who pushed himself even harder than he did them. Lean as an alley cat, he never seemed to sit still long enough for fat to catch up with him—or complacency either. (read more…)

Lack of Enviro Enforcment

Gratifying to see a thorough piece of investigative reporting leave the ivory tower and enter the public arena (“DEQ Has Oregon In Dirty Hot Water,” EW, Feb. 17). What the three journalism students learned about Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s dereliction of its duty to prosecute polluters is sadly representative of other “enforcement” agencies state and nationwide. While it’s true that most agencies and programs have been starved to impotence if not death by political malfeasance, enforcement has long been more of a paper tiger than an effective deterrent to scofflaws. Lane County’s land use enforcement program, for example, has only one official and a distinct distaste for taking any action that may lead to a costly court proceeding, no matter how egregious the violation and winnable the case. And it exists in an uneasy relationship with a libertarian, anti-regulation majority of county commissioners. (read more…)

Muting Goal One Goal
Citizens fight aerial sprays

One goal of Oregon’s statewide land use program is “citizen involvement,” providing opportunities for public participation in all phases of the regulatory system. Public awareness and engagement are essential to a functional democracy. When statewide goals and the regulations meant to support them have been corrupted, and when, as a consequence, the health, safety and welfare of the public and the environment are endangered, it is incumbent upon injured parties to seek redress through formal judicial procedures and/or by initiative petition. Aerial spraying of herbicides on federal forests ceased decades ago. But so tight is the timber industry’s grip on state and county legislators that for more than 40 years poisons have continued to rain from the skies over Oregon’s private timber lands despite incontrovertible evidence of their deadly impacts from trespassing drift and runoff. (read more…)

Closed minds stiff floodplain action

In her response to my guest viewpoint regarding federally proposed development regulation, Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg avers that the federal regulatory process “has been closed for years while federal agencies prepared rules and the science that supports them.” To be sure. The science behind rulemaking and other floodplain protection, like that linking human causes to global warming, is not a popularity contest—though that is certainly the way it’s been treated. (read more…)

Closed process for new flood plain rules warrants scrutiny

In a July 9 guest viewpoint, Robert Emmons of LandWatch Lane County asserts that flood plain development moratoriums are the only way to ­protect endangered salmon species, and further states that Rep. Peter DeFazio and The Register-Guard’s editorial staff are “misguided” in questioning the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s and the National Marine Fishery Service’s closed federal process for crafting new federal flood plain regulations. As someone who has personally attempted to discuss this issue with the federal agencies in charge of these community-altering decisions, I respectfully disagree with Emmons’ assessment. (read more…)

A Walk in Needle Park
On the eve of the Whiteaker Block Party, a look at the rise and fall of the neighborhood’s Scobert Gardens

Bob Emmons looks like he wants to spit. Standing on sun-scorched grass in Scobert Gardens Park, Emmons is hardly able to endure the blighted landscape, littered with empty beer cans, cigarette packs and pizza boxes. Shoeless daysleepers stretch out flat in swaying blots of shade. Summer breezes tumbleweed a plastic grocery bag across the dusty lawn and leave it at his feet. (read more…)

Preserving integrity of our floodplains good for everyone

Fifteen years ago, representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service held a public meeting in Eugene to discuss how Lane County might comply with the 4(d) rule of the Endangered Species Act, which is intended to protect listed threatened salmon and steelhead from harm. As doing so would prohibit activities such as “habitat modification and degradation,” the county needed to adopt policies and regulations that restricted development in floodplains. Any reasonable discussion was foreclosed by a handful of property rights zealots who demonstrated their anti-government bias with crude and insulting disruptions. Modest protections introduced at a Lane County Board of Commissioners meeting by Lane County planning staff and Eugene Water & Electric Board staff 10 years later elicited the same mob behavior, only from a larger mob. Both meetings resulted in no protective action being proposed or taken. Meanwhile, Lane County has continued to issue permits to build in floodplains; indeed, it routinely grants variances and exceptions to allow construction and the removal of view-obstructing native trees and shrubs in riparian buffers. (read more…)

Proposed Gravel Mine in Oakridge Under Fire

As summer nears, people start heading for wineries like King Estate to sit on the patio, drink wine and admire the view of the hills out Lorane Highway. However, out in Oakridge, some residents worry their views and summer days will be spoiled if a gravel mine, an investment of Ed King’s Crown Properties LLC, begins to bite into 46 acres of a hillside known locally as TV Butte on the edge of town. (read more…)

Oakridge Residents Go To King Estate To Protest Proposed Quarry

On Jan. 30, several members of a group called Save TV Butte held signs at the gates of King Estate Winery reading “Wines not Mines” and “WTF? King Estate.” Oakridge resident Linda McMahon says the action was to call attention to a proposed rock quarry at TV Butte, so called because it was previously the location of a TV repeater. The butte and proposed quarry are just outside the city of Oakridge and close to her rural home. She and other neighbors worry about the noise, dust and dangers a mine could pose as well as repercussions to a local elk herd and possible Native American artifacts, she says. (read more…)

Lost Valley’s ‘sustainability’ is unsustainable

In a protracted defense of his collective as “a local laboratory of sustainable living” the executive director of Lost Valley Education and Events Center, Justin Michelson, claims its “current land use application is … simple” (guest viewpoint, Jan. 17) This is disingenuous and deceptive at best. (read more…)

County rejects wedding proposal
Neighbors object to Veneta area events center

VENETA — Andrew Head saw a business opportunity: Open his 40-acre property southeast of Veneta to weddings, banquets and corporate retreats, provide a rustic event venue for up to 250 guests, and supplement his income as a roofer in the process. But his neighbors saw a nuisance: music blaring from speakers late into the night, drunken parties, traffic piling up on Fleck Road, the 2.5-mile rural street Head shares with about 70 other property owners. (read more…)

Population growth isn’t inevitable

“Eugene can’t have it both ways, with no increase in housing density and no additions of buildable lands.” So declared the Oct. 23 editorial headlined “City can’t have it both ways,” about the south Willamette Street rezoning controversy, echoing the self-fulfilling prophecy that growth is inevitable, if not desirable. But growth isn’t inevitable, and it can’t be accommodated. It’s a matter of having to choose. Acceding to and attempting to accommodate growth inevitably leads to the sort of irreconcilable dilemma inherent in the south Willamette rezoning dispute. Until meaningful steps are taken to curb population growth and consumption, citizens doom themselves to chronic and terminal congestion — and indigestion. In fact, greater density in the city hasn’t saved the countryside. Both are under assault by a disease we refuse to confront until it threatens our neighborhoods—after it’s too late. Instead of pretending that growth can be smart, the smarter choice is to recognize growth itself as the adversary. And instead of getting caught in its branches, we’d be wiser to unearth its roots. (read more…)

Slant: Can we feed ourselves?

That’s the question pondered in the latest LandWatch Lane County newsletter. A survey by a Food Studies class at UO last year calculated that Lane County could meet residents’ total percent need for grains, but only 75 percent for vegetables, 50 percent for fruit, 20 percent for dairy and 8 percent for meat (looking at beef only). This scenario assumes all 219,625 acres of our agricultural land is converted to food production to feed our county’s 356,212 residents, and it assumes adequate irrigation water. Why bother with such a study? A major earthquake or other natural disaster could cut off the roughly 95 percent of food that’s currently trucked into Lane County, and if and when fossil fuel prices skyrocket, so will the price of food shipped in. “Every acre of productive land we lose to suburban sprawl, erosion and industrial development reduces our capacity to feed Lane County residents,” writes Lynne Fessenden in the newsletter. She is executive director of the Willamette Food and Farm Coalition. (read more…)

Subdivision to be appealed
Activists say they’ll take their case against housing on the McKenzie River Golf Course to a state board

WALTERVILLE — The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals will be the next stop in the fight over the fate of the McKenzie River Golf Course. After more than a year of wrangling between the Omlid family, which owns the property, and Lane County officials, the family has secured approval from a Lane County hearings official to turn the 59-acre site into a 27-home subdivision. But two Fall Creek environmental activists say they will appeal to LUBA. The Omlid family wants to turn the 55-year-old, nine-hole property 15 miles east of Springfield along the McKenzie River into a cluster of 2-acre home parcels, in part because of the lackluster local golf market. The family is seeking preliminary county subdivision approval. (read more…)

Rock-mining bill stirs debate
Farmers and environmentalists say the measure would make it harder to defeat gravel operations

SALEM—A controversial pro-gravel-mining bill sponsored by a prominent Lane County Democrat is drawing ire from farming and environmental groups. Opponents say House Bill 2666 could open up large tracts of valuable Oregon farmland to new sand and gravel mines. Mines are controversial in part because they can disrupt farm groundwater supplies, kick up crop-damaging dust, be noisy and generate heavy truck traffic. (read more…)

Unlimited growth unhealthy for people, cities

Residents of the Eugene-Springfield area enjoy the luxury of harvesting local produce right at its source just minutes away in the Seavey Loop farm community. They can pick corn, pumpkins and strawberries at J&M Farms; cherries, prunes and grapes at Philpott’s; blueberries at Adkins and a kaleidoscope of flowers at Sparhawk near the western face of Mount Pisgah. They’ll also find peaches, tomatoes, other fruits and vegetables and friendly service at Me & Moore Produce on acreage that borders Oxley Slough. On its way north to the Coast Fork of the Willamette River, the slough provides habitat for numerous species of mammals, waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds. (read more…)

County Commission Talks Goshen Sewage ‘Boondoggle’

Lane County continues to move forward with its attempts to develop the community of Goshen much to the dismay of local land-use advocates. Goshen, just south of Eugene, is a rural industrial area that has been home to several mills and is the site of designated wetlands. Developing Goshen has become a pet project of Commissioner Faye Stewart. … LandWatch Lane County filed an appeal of the Goal 14 exception with Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) in February 2014, and the agency found several areas the county needed to address: commercial facilities, wetlands and wastewater. According to the Lane County memo on the issue, LUBA said the “county must provide substantial evidence and make a sufficient evaluation of the feasibility of providing sewer service in a timely and efficient manner.” (read more…)

Engineering study offers Goshen wastewater options
Lane County could use the information to clear the way for development boundary

Lane County hit a roadblock last year in its effort to lure businesses to Goshen after a local conservation group appealed the county’s plan to let large industrial companies build there. Now the county hopes to get its Goshen plan back on track. With a freshly completed 67-page engineering study in hand, Lane County commissioners on Tuesday reviewed three options to address concerns raised by the state over how wastewater would be dealt with at industrial sites in the unincorporated community south of Eugene. (read more…)

Riverfront Conversations
Could Collaboration bring a healthier Riverfront?

Sit beside the river and sip a glass of wine after a long day at work. Lay yourself down by the river and relax after a long run. Go fishing, go rafting, go wading, go birdwatching. As winter slowly starts to wind down, our river dreams start to flow. The Willamette River winds through Eugene and Springfield, and the McKenzie flows on the outskirts of town, but how often do we really see it from our urban streets? (read more…)

Springfield considers expanding into Goshen
The city is studying areas for possible inclusion within its urban growth boundary

SPRINGFIELD—The city’s industrial future could lie in Goshen—nearly three miles south of the city’s current limits. Springfield city officials have begun studying whether to bring more than 300 acres of the unincorporated area at Interstate 5 and Highway 58 into the city’s urban growth boundary, paving the way for it ultimately to be redeveloped with businesses and factories. Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart broached the idea last month to quell concerns voiced by neighbors about a proposed Springfield industrial and commercial expansion into the Seavey Loop area. His idea: If Springfield could access the Goshen acreage, it would no longer need to push for industrial development into the Seavey Loop area. Plus, Stewart for several years has been pushing to encourage redevelopment of 316 acres in Goshen into a large business park. Goshen is now home to scattered aging wood products operations, warehouses, machine shops and other similar industrial ventures. (read more…)

Sign smashing attacked civil rights

Unknown thugs spent election night making a mockery of the democratic process by smashing countless “No Industrial Pisgah” signs along Seavey Loop, causing more than $1,000 in damages and destroying the very symbol of residents’ unity against an expansion of Springfield’s urban growth boundary that would create an industrial zone near Mount Pisgah. Red or blue, pro or con, it was an attack on one of the foundations of American values—the right to petition government for redress of grievances. Preventing citizens from exercising their First Amendment rights isn’t a prank—in this case it might be a Class C felony, criminal mischief in the first degree, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and fines reaching $125,000. Let’s prove that such vandalism won’t be tolerated in our community. Tax-deductible donations to pay for replacement signs can be sent to LandWatch Lane County with the memo: No Industrial Pisgah. (read more…)

Parvin Butte Debuts In Local Documentary

Eugene videographer Tim Lewis says when he first found out about the controversial mining at Parvin Butte in local newspaper stories, he thought, “That’s a hell of a story” for a film project, “but I have no time to do that kind of stuff.” Bob Emmons of LandWatch Lane County tried to persuade Lewis, whose video footage was used in the Oscar-nominated film If a Tree Falls, to go out to Dexter. He wanted Lewis to meet the citizens who were fighting the large gravel mine that was tearing down a scenic butte in their midst. But Lewis says, “I didn’t want to because these people had already lost.” After meeting with the locals, Lewis changed his mind. The result is All About Parvin: Voices from a Lost Valley, a serialized documentary that will have its Eugene premiere Nov. 6. Audience members will have the opportunity to see the first five episodes at once. After that, each 12 to 15 minute episode will be released one at a time, every other week online at allaboutparvin.com. (read more…)

State Law vs. Natural Law
Springfield’s Seavey Loop plans draw ire

Along Seavey Loop Road winding all the way to Hwy. 58, “Stop Seavey Loop Industrial Zone” signs have cropped up over the past few weeks on almost every property. The two-lane blacktop runs through floodplain rich in farmland and natural areas nurtured by the Coast Fork of the Willamette River and Oxley Slough and overseen by Mount Pisgah rising gently in the east. The signs are an expression of solid resistance in a neighborhood unified in its opposition to the Springfield City Council’s decision to sweep part of the Seavey Loop area into its urban growth boundary (UGB) overflow and open it up to industrial development. (read more…)

LandWatch Opposes New Houses On Forestlands

Weyerhaeuser is a name long associated with timber, but back in 2010 the company became a REIT—real estate investment trust. Local land-preservation advocates from LandWatch Lane County say that Weyerhaeuser is one of the many landowners in the region moving property lines around on forestland to allow more houses to be built on what’s called an “impacted forest zone” on the edges of towns in Oregon. Pointing to a document that was filed with the Lane County Land Management Division, Lauri Segel of LandWatch shows how one tax lot may consist of several deeds. One deed might be for a tiny bit of land, not large enough for a home. Another bit of land is nowhere near a driveway. Some of the deeds date back to the 1800s, she says. Landowners then apply to move property lines and build more homes—basically building a small subdivision in an otherwise rural area. (read more…)

County reviews rules for big events
Commissioners seek to fill a gap in regulations for rural gatherings with fewer than 3,000 people

The Lane County Board of Commissioners remains on course to adopt new rules governing large outdoor events with up to 3,000 attendees in rural parts of the county this year. At its Tuesday meeting, the board scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 16 on the latest draft of the proposal. Final board approval could follow shortly afterward. The county’s procedures came into the limelight late last year after several high-­profile music festivals and other controversial gatherings underscored some deficiencies in the existing regulations. (read more…)

Betraying Buford
Large, loud events just aren’t in the spirit of Mount Pisgah

It’s taken 40 years of volunteer labor and of negotiation with county, state and federal agencies, The Nature Conservancy and the Wildish family to transform a mountain and its bottom lands overrun with cattle and blackberry bushes into a world-class nature preserve and regional park. Buford Park/Mount Pisgah has undergone quite a makeover from “the damned brown mountain” that pioneer Lane County planner Howard Buford persuaded Gov. Tom McCall to buy in 1973. No one would be more pleased by the transformation, the largely volunteer effort necessary to achieve it, and the 1994 master plan that currently guides it than Buford himself. (read more…)

Deforestation isn’t the solution

The March 3 editorial regarding Emerald Meadows music events averred that the Lane County commissioners “did the right thing” by setting up a task force “to ease neighbors’ concerns.” To the contrary, the commissioners directed that a task force be formed to avoid following use guidelines in the Buford/­Mount Pisgah master plan and to sidestep a state Land Use Board of Appeals case brought by LandWatch Lane County that challenged the county’s illegal permit and a court case challenging state law violation. But the real purpose of that callous diversionary maneuver is to keep the money flowing—not to Buford/Mount Pisgah but to the county parks department’s general fund, no matter the cost to the park, its volunteers and visitors, and nearby farmers. (read more…)

Land-Use Case Drags On

A Lane County land-use case, which was first filed in 2011, alleging that the county regularly exceeds deadlines is not yet resolved. Advocacy group LandWatch Lane County is frustrated with the amount of time it is taking to get a final order on the case from the state Department of Land Conservation and Development. In November 2011, LandWatch notified Lane County of its intention to file an enforcement order with DLCD regarding what the group sees as the county’s “pattern or practice” of exceeding the 150 days allowed for counties to process most land-use applications. According to LandWatch President Bob Emmons, the county’s “repeated failures to meet the processing deadline” exclude neighbors from equal participation in the land-use process. Lane County reviewed the order in March 2012 and responded that it has taken various actions to address the issues, and the county argued that the land-use applications that were cited did not meet the definition of a “pattern or practice.” LandWatch then took the case to the DLCD. Rob Hallyburton, DLCD Community Services Division manager, says this citizen-initiated petition for enforcement “is not a typical thing for us to be working on” or something the agency usually deals with, but that under the law a member of the public can petition for enforcement as LandWatch has done. (read more…)

State board voids events venue permit
Neighbors had complained about activities that Lane County allowed at Prindel Creek Farm

The state Land Use Board of Appeals has overturned Lane County’s decision to grant a special use permit to a private events center called Prindel Creek Farm in an isolated valley deep in the Siuslaw National Forest. The 136-acre site, surrounded by forest, is off Five Rivers Road about six miles south of the Lane County-Lincoln County border and 16 miles south of Highway 34. The permit, for a private park or campground in a forest zone, would have allowed up to six music festivals and concerts a year at the site between June and October. Those events could be attended by 800 to 2,500 people, with amplified music allowed until 2 a.m. and overnight camping. The permit also would have allowed an unlimited number of smaller events—weddings, memorials, performing arts events and environmental education seminars—year-round. The permit was subject to Prindel Creek Farm owners meeting 23 conditions for events drafted by county hearings official Gary Darnielle. (read more…)

Deforestation isn’t the solution

In his Feb. 2 column Ernie Niemi clearly defined why vast swaths of Oregon’s forests are now on the chopping block in an effort to bring jobs and revenue to beleaguered counties (“Timber changes reflect inequality”). Wood products companies have eliminated labor unions and pay less than their fair share of taxes. That enormously benefits the upper-income owners and managers of timber companies but harms workers and communities. Since the 1990s job losses in the timber industry have mostly resulted from technology replacing workers and from raw logs being shipped overseas, where foreign jobs are created to process them. As Niemi suggested, to help alleviate budget reductions in public health, safety and education in Oregon’s forested counties, timber harvest taxes should be increased at least to levels paid in Washington and California. (read more…)

Grant to allow Goshen sewer study
State funding will help pay for an examination of expanding services to encourage development

Lane County has been awarded a $20,000 state grant to help pay for a study of how and at what cost sewer services could be brought to rural Goshen, located just south of Eugene at the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 58. County leaders hope to kickstart industrial development in the unincorporated area, but the lack of a sewer system there is potentially a major hurdle to clear. … The grant comes as the county is awaiting a key ruling from the state Land Use Board of Appeals on its efforts to exempt more than 300 acres in the Goshen area from the statewide planning goal on urbanization, known as Goal 14. An exemption would allow urban-­level development to occur in Goshen, which is located outside Eugene’s urban growth boundary. LandWatch Lane County, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports “responsible and sustainable land use policy,” appealed the exemption, which the group believes is “unnecessary” for the county to promote development in the area. (read more…)

Goshen ‘Great’ Plan Problems

Lane County is plowing ahead with its plans to develop the rural industrial area of Goshen, which lies just south of Eugene. The county calls its plan to develop Goshen “GREAT”—the Goshen Region Employment and Transition plan—but land-use and environmental advocates have serious doubts about its greatness, and LandWatch Lane County has a case about Goshen before the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Lane County issued a press release on Jan. 13, touting a $20,000 Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DCLD) grant to conduct a “sewer feasibility study” in Goshen. Mia Nelson of land-use advocacy group 1000 Friends of Oregon says the county is going at things backwards. She says a feasibility study is a good thing “and something that should have happened before the county went running to the state to have Goshen designated a ‘regionally significant industrial area.’” She asks, “What if sewer isn’t feasible?” (read more…)

Board rebuffs events center
A land use panel says Lane County should not have granted a permit for River’s Edge in the Creswell area

CRESWELL—In a strongly worded opinion, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has ruled that Lane County was wrong to grant a temporary use permit to a controversial rural events center south of Creswell. On several points, the appeals board found in favor of John White, the neighbor who appealed the permit granted to River’s Edge Events, which caters to outdoor weddings, anniversaries, family gatherings and the like. The center is on a 20-acre parcel on the banks of the Coast Fork of the Willamette River owned by former Creswell City Administrator Mark Shrives and his wife, Peggy Shrives. The venue hosted events throughout the summers of 2012 and 2013, all while drawing complaints from neighbors that the business was out of place with its quiet rural surroundings. The appeals board ruled that the events center may not have been eligible for a county temporary use permit to begin with. The permits, which last five years but are renewable, allow property owners to use their land in ways that its zoning would otherwise not allow. In this case, it allowed the Shriveses to operate their business on land zoned as impacted forestland. Additionally, the appeals board ruled that it was unclear whether the events center was intended to be a temporary, rather than a permanent, use on the land. The county therefore needs “to make a threshold determination” about the proposed use and determine “whether limiting conditions are necessary … to ensure that the use will in fact be temporary,” the opinion states. (read more…)

Filling in Goshen
A propane firm is the first in an area targeted for redevelopment

Lane County officials hope that Pinnacle Propane Express, a Texas-based propane canister servicing center, will be the first of many new businesses to locate in the industrial strip along Highway 99 South, just south of Eugene’s city limits. To try to make the area even more attractive to industry—it already offers its own Interstate 5 interchange and a rail spur off the main Eugene-Springfield area line—the county is trying to transform more than 300 acres of rural-industrial land into a more intensive urban-style business park. The hope is that changing the zoning from rural residential to light industrial and campus industrial will draw a new wave of manufacturers with jobs paying well above the county’s median wage. The change in zoning would ease some current restrictions, on such things as building size, and enable the county to set landscaping, setbacks and other rules to change the area’s image from grubby equipment/log yard to tidy campus industrial park. For the past couple of years, the county has been working on its “GREAT plan,” which is short for Goshen Region Employment and Transition Plan. … LandWatch Lane County, a nonprofit organization advocating for responsible and sustainable land-use policy, appealed the commissioners’ decision on June 22 to the Land Use Board of Appeals. Oral arguments before the three-member board are scheduled in Salem on Thursday. The board is expected to decide on the appeal this spring, Lane County spokeswoman Anne Marie Levis said. LandWatch Lane County filed the appeal because the group believes an exception to Goal 14 is unnecessary, the group’s lawyer Sean Malone said. “Lane County can accomplish their GREAT plan through other avenues that are allowed by state law,” he said. “Exceptions to land-use goals should be taken only when necessary,” Malone said. “We don’t want to create an environment where we’re sort of abandoning our land-use goals.” The group also has other concerns about the GREAT plan, including how the area, which currently uses septic systems, would get sanitary sewer service, Malone said. (read more…)

LandWatch Ignored

Regarding the Give Guide in your recent [12/19] edition of EW: Considering that had it not been for the successful effort of LandWatch Lane County (LW) to stop it in 1996, 700,000 acres of commercial forestland would have been opened up to real estate development; considering that since then LW has been working to protect farmland, forestland, natural areas and open space in Lane County; and with Goal One Coalition, natural areas and resource lands throughout the state—accomplishments and goals we thought the Weekly supports—how is it, then, that on your Christmas list we don’t merit even an honorable mention? Are we too unsexy for your taste? What gives? (read more…)

Don’t celebrate pipeline to Veneta

Beating a drum for the new pipeline taking water from the McKenzie River and delivering it to Veneta, an Oct. 19 editorial demonstrated how out of tune The Register-Guard is with a world in crisis. Based on the premise that growth is both inevitable and desirable, the editorial praised the use of the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s third water right on the McKenzie, even though the first two provide more than enough water for present and near-future use. A use-it-or-lose-it water policy urges companies and individuals to use water that would better be conserved. Supplying water from the McKenzie to Veneta is no more warranted than supplying so much water from the Colorado River to cities in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California that it no longer reaches the Gulf of California. Calling the Veneta pipeline “a mutually beneficial connection between neighboring communities,” the editorial ignored the consequences of growth that “connection” will induce. Between Eugene and Veneta there are four species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act that aren’t likely to join in the celebration. Urbanization and its attendant effects are key factors in the present precarious state of the Fender’s blue butterfly, Bradshaw’s lomatium, Willamette Valley daisy and Kincaid’s lupine—the focus of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s present recovery program in the west Eugene wetlands. The newspaper deserves a roasting for toasting a project that will stimulate growth beyond the ability of the land and the community to sustain it, and further endanger already endangered species, including our own. (read more…)

Blame the developers’ enablers

In one disguise or another—Kinzua Resources, Frontier Resources, ATR Services, Crown Properties, Wiley Mountain, Oregon Land Company or Lost Creek Rock Products, to name a few—Greg and Jeff Demers, Norm and Melvin McDougal and Ed King have exploited Oregon’s natural resources for decades with the help of weak regulations and complicit politicians and administrators, laying waste to our landscapes and communities. As ruthless and reprehensible as those opportunists are, the abandoned landfill at Pilot Rock in Eastern Oregon shows where the finger should be pointed. According to the most recent Register-Guard article on the issue, the state Department of Environmental Quality allowed Kinzua Resources (the Demerses and King) to operate for more than seven years without a required insurance bond and without paying the fines levied repeatedly for failing to obtain one. Meanwhile, the company’s owners not only failed to cover the landfill as required and to extinguish subsurface fires that had begun as early as April 2010, they dumped another 40,000 cubic yards of waste on top of it, for which they were levied a fine the DEQ once again failed to collect. The $790,062 the DEQ fined Kinzua in August 2013 for “years of neglect” should be shared by the agency. Those outraged by the Demerses’ and King’s sordid history at Pilot Rock, and elsewhere, should impute blame (and demand responsibility) where it’s due—on the weak or non-existent regulations and the overseers who enable such scofflaws to operate. (read more…)

Irresponsible Housing

The greenway in Eugene should be retained and protected as a green riparian edge to the Willamette River. As such, it serves many important functions, as a “parkland” for all of Eugene, a place of rich wildlife diversity and a filter for water runoff during times of rain. Its trees help cool the environment on warm days and generally help mitigate adverse climatic conditions. The greenway is wondrous and beautiful in its natural state. It would be ill-advised and shortsighted to allow the development of the proposed Oakleigh Meadow Cohousing complex in the greenway. If realized, the complex would set an irresponsible precedent for the river’s edge. As Lara Bovilsky expressed in her Sept. 19 viewpoint in the Eugene Weekly, “The Willamette Greenway should be our legacy, a treasury of protected natural space.” (read more…)

Unsustainable Use of Website Logos

The Oregon Land Company, long associated with controversial developers and loggers Greg Demers and Norman and Melvin McDougal, has been using the logo of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) on its website without permission. Oregon Land has “sustainable forestry” emblazoned across the top of its webpage, but the McDougals and Demers are associated with less-than-sustainable projects such as the clearcut logging and mining at Parvin Butte, the fire-prone Pilot Rock landfill that earned a $790,062 fine from the state Department of Environmental Quality and an attempt to get a water right to thousands of gallons a day out of the McKenzie River via the Willamette Water Company, which was ruled water speculation by an Oregon administrative law judge in 2012. Nonprofit watchdog group LandWatch Lane County was made aware of the SFI logo on the Oregon Land website by a neighbor of one of the company’s land purchases and logging projects, who alleges the elderly owner was verbally assured the land would be thinned, not clearcut. The neighbor declined to give a name, citing concerns there could be retaliation. LandWatch contacted SFI and wrote, “Since the Oregon Land Company is an umbrella group of Norman and Melvin McDougal and Greg Demers, who are among Oregon’s most renowned scofflaw and rapacious clearcut loggers, I question the propriety of the Oregon Land Company displaying the SFI logo. Does the Oregon Land Company have your permission to do so?” (read more…)

Veneta water line lifts rates
EWEB water will start flowing this fall; bigger bills to pay for the pipeline have already started coming

VENETA—Residents of Veneta will likely have drinking water from the McKenzie River flowing from their taps next month once a completed $11 million pipeline allows the city to buy water from the Eugene Water & Electric Board. They also will have higher rates to show for it. (read more…)

Emerald Meadows Controversy

Outdoor music festivals bring joy for participants, but they can bring headaches for nearby neighbors. Local watchdog group LandWatch Lane County filed a “notice of intent to appeal” to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) on July 1 about the recent upsurge in outdoor spectacles at Emerald Meadows in Lane County’s Howard Buford Recreation Area. Emmons says the group is looking into the feasibility of also filing an injunction — which would means the events in question would not be allowed until LUBA made a decision. In a recent EW viewpoint, LandWatch president Bob Emmons wrote “the mass gatherings occurring for years at a Buford site called Emerald Meadows have been piggybacked onto a 2003 county permit for a small campground and caretaker’s residence.” Nearby landowners off Seavey Loop Road, including former congressman Jim Weaver and farmers Jim and Mary Evonuk of J&M Farms, say the traffic and noise affect their ability to sleep and in the case of the Evonuks to work on their farm. Emmons writes that allowing the festivals “was done without regard to a state statute limiting the annual amount and frequency of events attracting over 3,000 people and requiring a public hearing.” (read more…)

Pisgah neighbors need only look to Five Rivers

“The county … can’t allow a free-for-all for people to do whatever pleases them on public land that is converted to a temporary Woodstock phenomenon,” writes Bruce Irwin in his June 24 guest viewpoint warning of potentially disastrous consequences of Lane County hosting concerts and festivals at Buford Park. His advice, drawn from his own experience as an event manager, applies equally to Lane County’s cavalier approval of private lands converted to temporary Woodstock phenomena, which is being done for private profit at the expense and discomfort of nearly everyone else in the area. In particular, Irwin warns against allowing overnight camping in parks with no developed camping areas and facilities, listing the inevitable undesirable behaviors—“alcohol consumption, illegal drug use, fighting, arguments”—that can get out of hand. (read more…)

Events at Pisgah park are protested
Critics say the county failed to provide public notice or a hearing on a 2010 site update

Lane County government’s effort to increase—in size and in number—the summer outdoor events hosted in an 80-acre section of the county park north of Mount Pisgah is being challenged by park neighbors and a local environmental group. In an appeal filed with the state Land Use Board of Appeals, LandWatch Lane County and neighbors Jim Weaver and Jim Evonuk claim the county failed to provide required notice or a public hearing when, in November 2010, it created “updated site plans that intensified and significantly changed” the area’s use. In 2003, Lane County officials obtained a permit for a campground and a park caretaker residence at the site at the northern end of the 2,363-acre county-owned Howard Buford Recreation Area, which they say authorizes them to conduct outdoor events there. But petitioners claim that the 2003 permit contained a site plan that showed only around 200 campsites, while the updated version in 2010 included a series of new layouts, all of which had several thousand individual campsites. The park’s “neighbors should have had an opportunity to comment on these plans,” said Lauri Segel of LandWatch Lane County. (read more…)

Emerald Meadows Impact

My friend and former Congressman Jim Weaver, who lives on Seavey Loop Road, called me about a month ago asking what might be done, if anything, about the summer events in Buford Park that seemed to be multiplying exponentially. He told me about an event last year that backed up traffic from the park to I-5 and kept him from getting out of his driveway. I told him I’d look into it and asked one of our LandWatch Lane County board members if she’d see what’s on file at the county’s Land Management Division (LMD). What the record revealed is that the mass gatherings occurring for years at a Buford site called Emerald Meadows have been piggybacked onto a 2003 county permit for a small campground and caretaker’s residence. On the face of it, that permit is not relevant to the sorts of gatherings that impose traffic, noise and other pollution on Weaver and a host of other neighbors and native wildlife. When this was brought to LMD director Matt Laird’s attention, he said that because the county owns the land he thought additional permits were unnecessary. Apparently, he’s not concerned about the difference between low-impact campgrounds and the five festivals from late June to early September that feature amplified music well into the night, alcohol and, likely, drugs—and lots of people needing toilets, parking spaces and possibly medical care. (read more…)

Clear-cuts: the real forest abuse

The May 6 article headlined “Abusing the forest” highlighted problems caused by homeless people and their makeshift camps in Lane County forests. Garbage and human waste left behind are unsightly and polluting; such misuse shouldn’t be tolerated and will likely lead to camping bans in some areas. A day before reading the article I saw many acres of clear-cut forest lands while hiking in the Coburg Hills near McGowan Creek. The messes left behind by careless campers don’t hold a candle to the brutal and legal devastation of thousands of acres of Lane County forests and watersheds. Modern day clear-cuts equal forest termination and have adverse impacts not only on vegetation but also on soil, water and wildlife. Spraying clear-cuts creates biological graveyards. The sprays are lethal to salmon and sicken animals of the forest and nearby neighbors. Every time a forest is clear-cut and replanted with genetically modified fir seedlings, the new crop of trees tends to be inferior to earlier generations due in part to increased depletion of vital components in the area’s land and water. Forestry as practiced in Oregon is mostly a fiber industry. Clear-cutting of monoculture tree plantations equals quick profits for timber companies and leaves the rest of us and the environment impoverished and too often poisoned. The Oregon Forest Practices Act is about protecting the forest industry, not about protecting our forests. Let’s rewrite the act and go after the chief forest abusers by banning clear-cut monocultures and toxic sprays. (read more…)

Injustice, not hubris, was Rob Handy’s undoing

What is it about former Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy that Seneca Sawmill, county Administrator Liane Richardson and The Register-Guard find so threatening? Why is it that Seneca backed a bogus lawsuit with conservative former commissioner Ellie Dumdi as a front. Why has Richardson accused Handy of looking at her the wrong way. And why has The Register-Guard has unleashed a relentless and vicious attack on his judgment and integrity? Is it that he refused to be the mouthpiece of the timber, mining and real estate interests that bought his fellow commissioners, Jay Bozievich, Faye Stewart and Sid Leiken into office? Or is it that he and Pete Sorenson simply were singled out as whipping boys to send a message to future candidates who dare challenge county business as usual. In any case, the attack on Handy has been brutal, excessive and unwarranted, exhibiting the tactics of a bully. And inside every bully lies a coward—or a psychotic. (read more…)

Richardson has become a liability

When The Register-Guard and former Lane County Commissioners Bobby Green and Jerry Rust all agree that County Administrator Liane Richardson has seriously undermined citizen trust, there must be trouble at the courthouse. The April 23 editorial headlined “A clumsy grasp for a raise” said it all. That Richardson bullied a subordinate into lobbying for a hefty 15.3 percent raise for the county administrator seems unethical. Had the effort succeeded, her salary would have jumped to $175,656 while county government struggles with a constrained budget. That underscores the need for a new administrator and an apology from the current majority on the Board of Commissioners, which often obfuscates Richardson’s shady behavior. In January, upon public disclosure of the proposed raise for Richardson, considerable public criticism prompted her to decline the raise. At that time, Commissioner Jay Bozievich proclaimed he was “grateful” that Richardson would “continue serving below market value.” But it was Bozievich and Richardson, as members of the county’s agenda-setting team, who earlier advanced the pay-raise proposal. In e-mails secured by the newspaper, Richardson told Human Resources Director Madilyn Zike, “I need to make at least $175,000 … I really can’t wait another week” before probably accepting one of “a couple of” lucrative job offers from law firms. Well, that week has passed. Those on the board who hastily promoted Richardson to county administrator would be well advised to consider her a liability to their own careers. (read more…)

Glass Bar Once a Toxic Dump?

Nothing goes together like nudity and nature, but there’s a limited number of places one can enjoy the outdoors au natural in Lane County. The recent shutdown of access to Glass Bar Island, one of Lane County’s traditionally nude beaches, has some questioning if the closure is targeting an already stigmatized group out of discomfort with the idea of nude gay people, while supporters say the proposed restoration project benefits humans and nature. Previous dumping brings more complications to the issue. (read more…)

No justice in Parvin Butte mining

Renowned for having the nation’s foremost statewide land use planning program, Oregon has sacrificed the community of Dexter to the mining of Parvin Butte, surrounded by hundreds of homes. In 2009, companies controlled by Greg Demers and Melvin and Norman McDougal, fixtures in Lane County land development and resource-extraction industries, bought the 51.5-acre butte from Union Pacific for about $360,000. They said they’d be willing to part with it for $30 million. In 2010, without notifying neighbors, the Department of Geology and Mining Industries issued Lost Creek Rock Products a permit to remove Parvin Butte from the county’s landscape. The mining operation is expected to last decades until the butte is flattened. Lost Creek intends to blast and gouge rock from Parvin Butte, crush it, truck it to west Eugene, load it onto 20-plus rail cars a week and haul it to the Oregon Coast on the Coos Bay line. The county hearings official expressed regret that a “poorly written” county regulation exempts quarry owners from a proper site review, leaving neighbors with no say in how their lives and their environment are being impacted. Where’s the justice in this? We know that mountain top removal is occurring in Appalachia. It’s also happening here and now in Dexter, where neighbors have been awarded front-row seats to witness the ongoing obliteration of a historic landmark, and with it their quality of life and property values. Surely, Oregon legislators, you can do better than this. (read more…)

Less Hot Air

Casting a myopic eye on the state Legislature, former Sen. Tony Corcoran [“Hot Air Society” column, 2/21] avers that we ought to be optimistic about Gov. Kitzhaber and the Democratic majority he enjoys. He touts Kitzhaber’s Oregon Health Plan and Salmon Plan as having “already established his legacy.” Indeed. To address the urgent needs of threatened and endangered salmon for effective legislation, in his first term Kitzhaber prescribed a sugar-coated, voluntary recovery plan. In 2011 he commissioned a “Streamlining and Simplification Project” to undermine the land use protections and public participation instigated by Republican governor, Tom McCall, that, weak as they are, helped Oregon’s economy weather the recession better than other states without them. Further, in 2012 Kitzhaber created an expert panel, primarily of logging interests and their enablers, to facilitate the DeFazio-Walden-Schrader plan to give BLM/O&C public forestlands to the logging industry. Corcoran would do himself and his readers a service by removing his rose-colored glasses, taking a clear-eyed look at some of the legislators he favors, waking up to an overheated earth, and blowing less hot air himself. (read more…)

McCall spins in grave over land use ‘reforms’

Promoting and defending Oregon’s innovative land use program—soon to become a model for other states—Republican Gov. Tom McCall railed against “the grasping wastrels of the land” and “local officials who cater to developers and exploiters.” In 1982, facing reporters and his open-for-business successor Vic Atiyeh, McCall quipped, “Ore gon is demure and lovely, and it ought to play a little hard to get. And I think you’ll be just as sick as I am if you find it nothing but a hungry hussy, throwing herself at every stinking smokestack that’s offered.” But even McCall could not bring himself to reject the economic growth paradigm, attacking only “unlimited and unregulated” growth and calling for “healthy, imaginative, nonpolluting industry.” When Senate Bill 100 emerged from the sausage factory of the Legislature in 1973, the most visionary piece—“areas of critical state concern”—had been dropped from the bill. Environmentalism and a vision of the land as valuable in its own right were just too extreme. Even so, the bill passed only because powerful economic interests—agriculture and timber—were bought off with a huge property tax break: the farm and forest special assessment. Deals were made with other economic interests as well, including the homebuilders associations and industry. (read more…)

What’s ‘Great’ About Goshen?

Drive down Highway 99 through Goshen and you won’t see much: the Land o’ Goshen Tavern, some homes, some cattails and a couple mill sites. It’s a little unclear what the big deal about Goshen is and why some people from Lane County are pushing hard and fast to have the unincorporated town outside Eugene’s urban growth boundary (UGB) rezoned and revamped into an industrial park. Lane County is calling it the GREAT Plan—Goshen Region Employment and Transition Plan—but some land use and economic development experts don’t think it’s great at all. On Aug. 21 the Lane County Planning Commission will discuss Goshen at a work session followed by a public hearing. (read more…)

Water project only serves to further endanger species

We in Lane County are privileged to live in an area that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Cascades and contains a rich diversity of wildlife and human habitat. But that privilege comes with a responsibility to those species that our collective actions—our growth—have pushed to the edge of extinction. In the short distance between Eugene and Veneta are four species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for protecting endangered species, urbanization and its attendant effects are key factors in the present precarious state of the Fenders blue butterfly, Bradshaw’s lomatium, Willamette Valley daisy and Kincaid’s lupine. As a community, we would fail in our obligation to the land and the law if we ignored the impacts on endangered species in order to spend every stimulus dollar and secure every self-interested business proposal. To suggest that Veneta’s proposed water pipeline is not so much about growth as about salvation, John Daniel begins his July 1 column supporting plans for a pipeline to deliver water from the Eugene Water & Electric Board to Veneta by noting the “plague” of iron in well water suffered by residents of Elmira and Veneta. He goes on to say that Veneta “is growing, as common sense might expect.” But good sense would tell him that growth is untenable if a town has exceeded the capacity and quality of its natural resources and of the economic means to support it. (read more…)

Veneta water line targeted
A watchdog group files suit over EWEB’s proposed sale of water, saying it would threaten an endangered butterfly

LandWatch Lane County has filed a new federal lawsuit aimed at stopping the planned piping of McKenzie River water to the city of Veneta. The city of 4,500 struck a deal last year with the Eugene Water & Electric Board to buy up to 265,000 gallons per day from the Eugene-based public utility’s McKenzie River water rights. Veneta City Administrator Ric Ingham said Thursday that city officials still intend to formally seek bids this week for construction and financing of a 10-mile, 24-inch pipeline along Highway 126 to carry the water. The development watchdog group’s suit officially targets the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for signing off on a Veneta biological assessment that found the project unlikely to adversely affect the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly and three native plants on which it depends. (read more…)

Oregon Pipeline Could Harm Butterfly, Flowers

EUGENE—A pipeline project for a water-strapped Oregonian city will harm endangered species of flower and butterfly, an environmental group claims in Federal Court. "The effects of the project will result in urban, suburban, commercial, and industrial development and conversion of native prairie habitat, and the Fender's blue butterfly, the Bradshaw's lomatium, the Willamette daisy and the Kincaid's lupine will be adversely affected," the complaint states. Development will also increase traffic in, around and through the Eugene wetlands, where the government plans to lay a pipeline that carries water from the Eugene Water and Electric Board source main. Once completed, the 9.7 miles of 24-inch diameter water pipe will carry water to the Veneta reservoir. But LandWatch Lane County claims that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service violated federal law by not preparing supplemental analysis for the pipeline project. (read more…)

Group drops its suit over pipeline
Watchdogs say they may try other means to halt the transport of EWEB water to Veneta

A local development watchdog group voluntarily has dropped a federal lawsuit aimed at halting a plan for the Eugene Water & Electric Board to pipe and sell some of its McKenzie River water to the city of Veneta. But LandWatch Lane County already has notified Veneta and federal officials that it may challenge the project on other grounds. LandWatch sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in January for signing off on a Veneta biological assessment showing that the project was unlikely to adversely affect the endangered Fender’s blue butterfly and three native plants on which it depends. But LandWatch filed for dismissal of that case late last month, after Veneta amended the assessment to include consideration of indirect impacts raised by LandWatch, such as habitat reduction due to increased home construction anticipated in Veneta as a result of an increased water supply. (read more…)

Resolution supported water plan

The monopoly of water supplies by private companies and governments is a worldwide epidemic, accelerating depletion and leading to social control and exploitation. Thanks, therefore, to The Register-Guard for exposing and opposing Willamette Water Company’s application for a right to draw a prodigious amount of precious water from the McKenzie River to corner a market in Goshen, Creswell and Cottage Grove that does not exist. At least not yet. Omitted from the Feb. 23 editorial (“Protect McKenzie water”) was mention of a resolution at an October 2011 meeting of the Lane County Board of Commissioners, introduced by Commissioner Faye Stewart and backed by Commissioners Jay Bozievich and Sid Leiken, to support the company’s application to take 250,000 gallons per second from the McKenzie. They did so because they want to develop Greg Demers’ market for him. Their work plan’s highest priority is to pave the way for an urban level of commercial/industrial development in Goshen. (read more…)

Group sues to stop water pipe
LandWatch Lane County says a line allowing EWEB to sell water to Veneta would harm endangered butterflies

A local environmental group has filed a federal lawsuit aimed at halting the city of Veneta’s efforts to tap into the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s supply of McKenzie River water. Officially, LandWatch Lane County’s suit targets the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency in late 2010 signed off on Veneta’s proposal to build a 10-mile pipeline to EWEB’s western most water main, allowing the city to buy up to 265,000 gallons per day from the Eugene- based public utility. The federal agency reviewed a city-prepared biological assessment and concluded that the pipeline most likely would have no adverse effects on four endangered species: three native plants and the Fender’s blue butterfly. The LandWatch suit, drafted by attorney Sean Malone of Eugene, challenges that finding as arbitrary and capricious and an illegal abuse of the agency’s discretion. The LandWatch complaint asks a judge to halt the project with a court order. (read more…)

Building Houses in Floodplains?

Images of flooded homes and fields filled the news during the mid-January floods this year. Lane County has been soliciting information from homeowners on how much damage the high waters cost them in order to apply for federal disaster relief funds. So LandWatch Lane County wants to know why the county would consider allowing even more houses in areas prone to flooding. Robert Emmons, president of LandWatch Lane County, has previously urged the Land Management Division (LMD) to deny the “template dwelling” requests on about 80 acres near to Siuslaw Road and Territorial Highway near the Lorane General Store and Deli. The land used to be a beet field. (read more…)

Planning For A Future: Protecting The Ground

Editor’s Note: We are privileged to have Emmons guide us through some of the history behind Oregon’s innovative and sensible land use policy, as well as the challenges it faces today. In this inspiring piece Emmons suggests a new philosophy to protect—among other things—the ground. This piece is an exclusive adaptation from the longer original version.
Without the land use protections Senate Bill 100 established almost 40 years ago, Oregon long since would have gone the way of California and all the other states across the country providing open range to unbridled development. We owe what’s left of our system of locally-administered, state-regulated comprehensive plans and Urban Growth Boundaries to Governor Tom McCall’s legacy. (read more…) (read original version…)

Horrified Neighbors

Named for one of Dexter’s early settlers, Parvin Butte has both historical and geographical significance. It is one of the landscape features that distinguishes Dexter from, say, nearby Lowell or Creswell or Cottage Grove. And no doubt it’s borne the footprints of many locals, Indian and settler alike, attracted by the all-points view its top provides—and by the seclusion it offers for those seeking a closer view of their climbing companions. For Greg Demers and the McDougal Brothers, however, it’s no more than a pile of rock to be crushed and then transported to the coast for various construction projects. A new site on Greenhill Road for transfer of Parvin basalt to railcars, and other sites owned by their company or companies along the soon to be upgraded rail line from Eugene to Coos Bay, have the full support of Oregon State Sen. Floyd Prozanski. (read more…)

County prodded on slow process
A conservation group says Lane County isn’t abiding by its own deadlines for making land use decisions

A Eugene conservation group troubled by Lane County’s handling of development proposals says it will ask the state to intervene unless the county addresses its concerns. But the head of the county planning department disagrees with issues raised by LandWatch Lane County. The county has changed its processing of applications, planning Director Kent Howe said, incorporating the recommendations of conservation groups including LandWatch. LandWatch, which works to protect farm and forest lands and natural areas, recently told the county it will ask the state to enforce the county’s planning and zoning responsibilities unless the county starts meeting timelines and other procedural requirements for development applications. The county has developed a pattern of failing to meet a 150-day timeline for final action on development applications and zone change requests, LandWatch President Robert Emmons said. Applications unaddressed by the county typically end up in Lane County Circuit Court for resolution, which can be a time-consuming and expensive process that disenfranchises opponents such as LandWatch, Emmons said. (read more…)

Sustainable Land Use

What I want to do in the next 15 or 20 minutes is glance at the Eugene I knew when Tom McCall was governor in the ’60s and ’70s; look at the importance of Senate Bill 100 and how its foundation has been weakened over the last 38 years; and suggest the rudiments of what I believe it will take to rise from the ashes of a failed economy and an abused environment. Without the land use protections Senate Bill 100 established almost 40 years ago, Oregon long since would have gone the way of California and all the other states across the country providing open range to unbridled development. To our system of locally administered, state-regulated comprehensive plans and Urban Growth Boundaries we owe what’s left of Governor Tom McCall’s legacy. (read more…)

Otto’s Monument

On a site more suited to puffins and cormorants, offering stunning vistas of coastline and cliffside from above and below, Eugene architect Otto Poticha intends to erect a monument to his ego (“Coast House Controversy,” 10/6). As such it’s sure to be a sizable project. (read more…)

Lane County must adhere to regional planning principles

This country was founded on the principle—and practice—of government by a balance of powers as being in the best interest of the nation, a check on the tyranny and corruption that results too often from governing power vested in a single authority. Likewise, with metropolitan planning, Eugene, Springfield and Lane County benefit singly and collectively by having a governing body where decisions of regional import are based on the separate but equal authority of its three jurisdictions. (read more…)

Good Start

Many thanks for uncovering some of the real story behind the righteous—and malicious—county open meeting law accusations (“Shifty Politics” cover story, 7/14). It was right on the money. (read more…)

Shills for Consumption

At the recent Public Environmental Law Conference, Sierra Club member and keynote speaker Bruce Nilles touted the work his organization has accomplished in shutting down numerous coal-fired power plants and stalling some of those in line. In their place, he said, we must support large scale wind and solar projects. Others, including the president, promote nuclear energy as a viable replacement for fossil fuels. (read more…)

Winery appeal is about fairness
King Estate should not get a free pass from existing land use regulations

The Goal One Coalition appealed Lane County’s retroactive approval of a restaurant at King Estate as a matter of fairness, equity and justice. With the support of Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Department of Land Conservation and Development and wineries across the state, the purpose of the appeal is to instigate a re-crafting of rules that have both the flexibility and consistency to work sensibly and fairly everywhere, and not for any single winery or dude ranch or U-pick fruit farm. For this is not just a Willamette Valley or winery issue. (read more…)

Be Careful

Public officials all over the state better be looking over their shoulders. Thanks to an imaginative interpretation of what constitutes a quorum in the Public Meetings Law by a Coos County judge, routine communication and strategizing among decision makers is now in jeopardy. (read more…)

Our Degrading Watersheds
Protests against water restrictions miss the point

The October hearing to consider protections for Lane County's floodplains and drinking water attracted a mob. Like any mob, its majority were irrational, unruly, dictatorial—and largely, perhaps purposely, uninformed or misinformed. When this mass overwhelmed the proceedings with a forced Pledge of Allegiance—ot a part of the Commissioners' protocol—there was no doubt who was in charge of the hearing, or about their politics. (read more…)

Muddy waters
Real threats to health get lost in the mob of misinformed critics

The Oct. 26 hearing to consider protections for Lane County’s floodplains and drinking water attracted a mob. Like any mob, the majority of its members were irrational, unruly, dictatorial and largely, perhaps purposely, uninformed or misinformed. (read more…)

Wind generation costs hide in plain sight

Wind power provides an attractive alternative to our debilitating dependence on fossil fuels. It offers green energy, green jobs and green bucks. What's not to like? Well, for starters, the scale. (read more…)

Matter of Policy

Around and around it goes. And outward, too, if Eugene, like Springfield, buys into the mythology that it needs to accommodate growth by expanding its urban growth boundary. But in fact growth cannot be accommodated, and it is not inevitable. It is a matter of policy, a matter of choice. (read more…)

Get off the growth machine

Around and around it goes. And outward, too, if, as Springfield has, Eugene buys into the mythology that it needs to accommodate growth by expanding its urban growth boundary. But in fact growth cannot be accommodated, and it is not inevitable. It is a matter of policy, a matter of choice. (read more…)

Terrible place for a wind farm

Standing alone, 9,773-foot Steens Mountain has endured domestic sheep, cattle and feral horses on its western flank; it has survived the mines pocked into its eastern face. Through it all its waters continue to nourish the wildlife refuge—and the ranches—below, and its stark character and beauty have prevailed. Unfortunately, only a part of the mountain is in the public domain. Now, aging private landowners, with offspring off the acreage and uninterested in coming back, are trying to turn their ranches into wind farms (Register-Guard, Feb. 8). Where for a century and a half far-ranging livestock have fouled the soil and water, soon “green” giant turbines and transmission towers promise to desecrate the viewshed—and enrich the royalty rancher—without taking a step. (read more…)

Springfield sets sights on future land needs
Councilors approve a report saying the city will need more than 600 additional acres through 2030

SPRINGFIELD—A review of the city's industrial and commercial land suggests that Springfield's got plenty of small lots to meet its needs for the next two decades. It's a dearth of the big chunks—the 50- to 100-acre sites that can accommodate hospitals and solar panel manufacturers, for example—that may prompt the city to expand its urban growth boundary. Planning for the economic future when the recent economic past has been so unpredictable is the challenge presently faced by the City Council. Councilors grappled with uncertainty in a work session on Tuesday before voting unanimously to accept a document that concludes that the city will need 640 acres outside the current urban growth boundary to meet expected employment growth through 2030. (read more…)

Protecting Lane County

We join you in appreciating the excellent work of the local nonprofits in your Dec. 24 “Giving Guide” for 2009. Given the Weekly’s bias, however, it was not surprising to find a guide long in groups devoted to social issues that “rank high on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: food, shelter, safety, medical care,” and short in nonprofits working on environmental protections. (read more…)

The Willamette is all one river

The availability of the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s riverfront property has generated a lot of electricity among planners, politicians and professors. And developers doubtless are salivating over the prospect of a lucrative town-to-river connection. While perfunctorily noting that the Willamette is “already on American Rivers’ endangered list”—with no apparent concern for how it got there—The Register-Guard’s Bob Welch nevertheless contends in his Nov. 15 column that “people can enhance the natural, complementing it without compromising it.” Whatever the truth of that latter assertion, it is not supported by the examples Welch offers. (read more…)

Land use now easier to appeal

Using a stakeholders’ process set up by Lane County commissioners, historically adversarial land stewardship advocates and pro-development consultants were able to come to an agreement and change the $3,700 fee charged to appeal a land use decision to $250. Robert Emmons of LandWatch Lane County says this change, as well as changes to the way lot lines are decided, is “really going to make a difference to what possibilities we have to protect some of this landscape.” (read more…)

Fewer logs, more salmon

In his younger days my 98-year-old neighbor, who had lived on Little Fall Creek since 1914, would head upstream into what’s now Weyerhaeuser and a bit of national forest land and “see so many salmon you could cross the creek on their backs.” Now, dead salmon must be cast into the creek to feed the fry and fingerlings formerly nourished by wild salmon swimming, spawning and dying there (“Fixing Little Fall Creek,” Register-Guard, Sept. 29). (read more…)

Governor’s ‘new vision’ turns blind eye on environment

For a governor desirous of getting Oregon’s landscape “shovel ready” for corporations instead of crops—and with the anti-planning group Oregonians in Action in the catbird seat—the state’s pro-­development Big Look Task Force came through in spades. Yet, according to Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s Aug. 5 guest viewpoint, the task force’s three years of “extensive evaluation, outreach and engagement” resulted in legislation that provides a “new vision” of “shared belief,” healing “old divides” and “forging new partnerships” that will “lead us to a better future.” A better future, certainly, for those who long have sought to weaken Oregon’s land use planning program. (read more…)

Land-use law: the Big Look's failings

For a governor eager to get Oregon’s landscape “shovel ready” for corporations instead of crops—and with Oregonians in Action in the catbird seat—Ted Kulongoski’s pro-development Big Look Task Force came through in spades. Yet, according to the governor in a recent guest opinion (“Reform of land use law took a broad, cooperative effort,” Eugene Register Guard, Aug. 5) that committee’s three years of “extensive evaluation, outreach and engagement” resulted in legislation that provides a “new vision” of “shared belief,” healing old divides and “forging new partnerships” that will “lead us to a better future.” A better future, certainly, for those who’ve long sought to weaken Oregon’s land-use planning program. (read more…)

The data that guide growth are subject to manipulation

Oregon’s unique land use system confines most growth to cities while preserving farms and forests. Only land inside an urban growth boundary may become part of a city. Oregon allows expansion of an urban growth boundary when a city’s inventory of “buildable lands” falls short of a 20-year supply. Such a deficiency is demonstrated by a population forecast that predicts how many new homes will be needed during the next 20 years. (read more…)

Seneca plan boosts pollution, profits

In an April 7 guest viewpoint about her company’s proposed biomass energy plant, Jody Jones justifies Seneca Sawmill Company’s plan to substitute “biomass-generated pollution” for “gas-generated pollution” with catchphrases such as “renewable power,” “carbon neutral,” “reduce our community’s dependence on fossil fuels,” “reducing greenhouse gases” and “generates far less pollutants than many other energy generating methods.” She provides no data or scientific evidence to support these claims. Unfortunately, it is nothing more than self-serving propaganda to justify further pollution of our air by changing the name of emissions to “renewable biomass cogeneration.” Haven’t we learned that changing the label doesn’t change the consequences of threats to our environment? (read more…)

Citizens State of the City and County 2009: Land Use

Without Senate Bill 100 and the land use protections it provided 35 years ago, Oregon long since would have gone the way of California and all the other states across the country providing open range to unbridled development. To our system of locally administered, state-regulated comprehensive plans and Urban Growth Boundaries we owe what’s left of Governor Tom McCall’s legacy. What’s left. (read more…)

Citizens to Report on State of City

The Eugene Mayor’s State of the City address was held this week (1/7). But it’s followed by the Citizens State of the City and County (CSCC) report at noon Monday, Jan. 12, at Harris Hall, 8th and Oak. Local activists will talk about “the critical issues of our time,” says environmental educator and activist Jan Spencer. … Robert Emmons, president of LandWatch Lane County, will describe the consequences of weak regulation, lack of enforcement and the state’s “Big Look” land use task force for city and county planning efforts. (read more…)

Hacking Away: Oregon's land-use program under constant attack

Since its inception 35 years ago, Oregon’s land-use program has been under attack from the same forces that brought us Measure 37. Little by little, lot by lot, timber and real estate interests, developers and their enablers in legislatures, commissions, councils and land management divisions have been busy night and day eviscerating the system. (read more…)

LandWatch Gathering

An update on Measure 37 reform will be on the agenda of LandWatch Lane County at the group’s annual meeting planned for 6:45 to 9 pm Thursday, May 17, in the Bascom/Tykeson Room of the Eugene Public Library. (read more…)

LandWatch Targets Measure 37

Up to 35,000 acres of land in Lane County could be developed, mostly into subdivisions, if Measure 37 claims are allowed to continue unchecked. State and county officials charged with evaluating the claims have established a routine of granting waivers of land use regulations to most applicants. “During the past year, hundreds of citizens have come to realize the destructive nature of the measure,” says Bob Emmons of LandWatch Lane County. “They have contacted their elected officials urging them to reinstate fairness and sanity to land use in Oregon.” Measure 37 is on the agenda of LandWatch at its annual meeting planned for 6:45 to 9 pm Thursday, May 17, in the Bascom/Tykeson Room of the Eugene Public Library. (read more…)

Heinous M37

Bob Emmons’ viewpoint “Forces of Destruction” (2/22) on the “clear cut” corruption of officials at local, state and federal levels regarding near nonexistent regulation of land use legislation and blatant illegitimate logging and clear-cutting operations was both distressing and sobering. (read more…)

Forces of Destruction: Measure 37 is only the latest assault on land use laws

Thanks to Eugene Weekly and reporter Alan Pittman, voters have a well-researched and graphically captivating picture of the statewide land abuse fiasco purchased—on the cheap—by a handful of developers, corporations and speculators (“Looming Sprawl,” 1/25). Left unsaid is that Measure 37 has opened a gaping and potentially lethal wound in a land use program already suffering the death of a thousand cuts—institutional corruption in which parasites like Greg Demers and the two McDougal brothers have been thriving for decades. (read more…)

Looming Sprawl: Will Measure 37 get fixed before it devours Oregon

There was an old woman named Dorothy who lived on a hill. She’d lived there a long time and lived there still. She’d long dreamed of building another house or two. But that’s what the big bad government wouldn’t let the little old grandmother do. So Dorothy English, 94, became a poster child. The media love a poster child, and soon English’s fable was retold and broadcast over and over to pass an initiative, Measure 37, to give English back what the government had taken without just compensation. (read more…)

LandWatch Event May 11

One of the Willamette Valley’s leading rural land use advocacy groups, LandWatch Lane County, is planning its annual meeting from 6:45 to 9 pm Thursday, May 11 at the Bascom/Tykeson Room at the Eugene Public Library. The public is invited to the free event. (read more…)

LandWatch Gathering

The uncertainty surrounding Measure 37 will be one of the main topics on the agenda of the annual meeting of LandWatch Lane County at 7 pm Tuesday, May 3 at the Bascom/Tykeson Conference Room at the Eugene Public Library. The meeting is the largest public event of the year for an organization that does most of its work behind the scenes, collaborating with other environmental groups and lobbying for conservation of farm and forest lands. (read more…)

CPA, LandWatch Gather

Local watchdog group Citizens for Public Accountability (CPA) will hold its 7th annual membership meeting from 7 to 9 pm Wednesday, May 14 at the Eugene library's Bascom Room. LandWatch Lane County is planning its annual meeting the same time, same night at the EWEB Training Room, 500 E. 4th. Both meetings are free and open to the public. CPA Members will review last year's events and accomplishments and discuss this year's priorities. A new steering committee and officers will be elected. Alan Siporin and Kitty Piercy will be guest speakers beginning about 8 pm. Siporin is expected to talk about Eugene's "unique culture"; Piercy will talk about reaching consensus on a "healthy direction for Eugene." For more information, call Jan Spencer at 686-6761. The LandWatch meeting will include presentations by Robert Emmons, Lauri Segel and Lane County Commissioner Tom Lininger. For more information, call 741-3625. (read more…)

Happening People: Nena Lovinger

“I’m committed to this state and this community,” says land-use activist Nena Lovinger, volunteer secretary for LandWatch Lane County. LandWatch coalesced in the mid-’90s to counter proposed relaxation of land use codes that would have allowed development on Lane County’s forest resource lands. “We succeeded in that effort,” she notes. (read more…)

Under Siege: LandWatch fights to preserve shrinking resource lands

EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Emmons, president of LandWatch Lane County, spoke at the annual meeting of LandWatch, May 9 at Tsunami Books. Below are his comments.
As many of you know, LandWatch Lane County formed five years ago to protect forests, farms and open space from urban sprawl and, I might add, from plain old homegrown ignorance and stupidity. We led a successful campaign to keep dwellings off 695,000 acres of forest resource land. And we’ve testified before councils and commissions, helped elect favorable officials and established a network of information, including a quarterly newsletter, to concerned citizens. Together with Friends of Eugene and 1000 Friends of Oregon we hired a staff person and opened an office in downtown Eugene. (read more…)

LandWatch Gathers

The population of the Willamette Valley is expected to almost double over the next 50 years, adding nearly two million more people. What will be the impact on farming, forestry and our cities? LandWatch Lane County has been involved for the past five years in research, education and lobbying of public officials for sustainable and sensible land use policies and practices. The non-profit group is planning its annual meeting from 7 to 9 pm Thursday, May 9 at Tsunami Book Store, 2585 Willamette St. in Eugene. (read more…)

Watching the Land

LandWatch Lane County has recently acquired non-profit status and is seeking new members and financial support. (read more…)