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Council must protect WLs natural areas

Here's a two-part quiz for WL residents and taxpayers trying to determine if the current council is serious or just giving lip service to its stated goal to 'protect and enhance the integrity, stability and beauty of the natural environment' of West Linn.

Part A: Why has the council STILL not accepted the maps highlighting the best of West Linn's natural resources, despite:

n Seven years of work on the project since it was put in the Comprehensive Plan

n $300,000 spent on consultant fees

n 30 to 40 public meetings

n field maps that have been complete and on the city's Web site since July 2002

Part B: Why has the council NOT accepted the recommendations of its own Sustainability Task Force Report (per the city Web site), which has urged that:

n A sustainable WL 'has preserved all remaining important natural habitats'(see page 7 titled 'If Nothing Else, Read This Section')

n 'Natural Features' are the number one priority of WL residents to maintain and preserve, according to a recent Community Survey (see page 9)

n To protect these natural areas 'it is critical to take immediate steps to conserve remaining wetland, riparian, upland wildlife habitat, open space and scenic vistas before they are fragmented beyond the point that they are able to provide ecosystem services.' (see page 22).

n One of the 'Top 4 Actions For City Government' is to 'identify and protect remaining natural areas before it's too late' (see page 33).

n Since 'the city has spent several hundred thousand dollars' … that 'adopting the entire inventory, including wetlands, riparian protection and wildlife habitat (uplands) is necessary' (see page 80).

If the only answer you came up with to excuse the inaction, expense and delays is Measure 37, your answer is wrong - unless it is being used as convenient political cover. At the December 2005 joint planning commission/council meeting, the city attorney said that Measure 37 should NOT prevent the council accepting the completed field maps IF they wanted. I was in the audience when he said so, and any reader can review the videotape and hear for themselves.

That leaves only two possible answers: 1) poor leadership and follow through, or 2) a council majority that really does NOT want to protect WL's environmental treasures … but does not want to openly say so. Either way, the result is degradation through delay.

There is no legitimate reason this council could not vote to accept all the field inventories now (or 1½ years ago). It does not lock them into a prescribed course. Conflicts about these beauty areas can be addressed in the ESEE analysis. It would simply acknowledge that the council agrees that these treasured natural areas are important.

It seems to me that the council has already shown its true feelings about these areas by their inaction. If nothing occurs in the next month or so before new elections, readers will have their answer for sure.

Gregory Morse is a West Linn resident.