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Metro plans new greenspaces push

Some ballot measures affect the here and now, and some look to the future.

To Metro Councilor Brian Newman, Measure 26-80 is very much about the 'legacy that we leave our kids.'

The ballot measure would raise funds to preserve natural areas, thus preserving fish, wildlife and even 'human habitat,' Newman noted.

And it is crucial that voters give the nod to the Measure 26-80 now, Newman pointed out, because the urban growth boundary will expand again in 2008, and 'developers are already lining up' to purchase land.

If the measure does not pass, 'It will be a big missed opportunity. [Clackamas County] is growing fast, and this is our one shot to acquire land before the [population] growth.

'[We need] to preserve the area most important to people so that they can enjoy it for future generations, otherwise we'll lose a lot of special places,' Newman said.

Clackamas County voters stand to benefit from the passage of the ballot measure, because of what Newman called some 'high profile target areas' that could be acquired.

Those include land in the Clackamas River watershed that, Newman explained, provides clean water to most of the population of Clackamas County, with the exception of Milwaukie and Wilsonville.

Newman also noted that Clackamas County benefited from the previous measure, passed in 1995.

'Forty percent of the 8,000 acres gained in 1995 were in Clackamas County. [We purchased land on] Mt. Talbert that was slated to be a high-end housing development, and now it is the only green space [in the butte area, near Clackamas Town Center],' Newman said.

Newman also pointed out that the bond is 'entirely a willing-seller' program.

'Although we have the authority to use imminent domain, we will not use it. That is written into the bond measure - we want all parties to have good feelings about the acquisitions.

'There is no shortage of people who want to sell land. They want to preserve it and all the attributes they love about it,' he explained.

He noted that the ballot measure is set up in three parts: regional, local and a capital grants program.

'What we want to do regionally is set up a green belt, linking buttes and watersheds. Then we want to pass straight through to the local government - the cities and parks districts; they are the local experts on parks and trails.

'Finally, with the grants program, we want to democratize the entire effort. We want to involve neighborhood associations, watershed councils, friends organizations and schools. We want people to participate in order to preserve local natural areas,' Newman said.

Residents come together to show support

Clackamas County residents Eric and Susan Shawn, members of Friends of North Clackamas Park, along with members of the Friends of Mt. Scott and Kellogg Creeks, co-hosted a silent auction last week at the Milwaukie Center, to raise funds and raise awareness about Measure 26-80.

'We have to pass this,' Susan Shawn said, 'because if we don't protect natural areas now, we may lose them forever.'

In addition to proposed regional land acquisitions, Susan Shawn noted that there are 'many identified projects in Milwaukie, Oregon City and the Gladstone area.'

She added, 'Non-profits can apply for grant money [from the third part of the measure] and we can use that money right now to protect natural areas in [North Clackamas Park]. We can use that money to get rid of invasive species and for restoration, so we're trying to network with different watersheds, the Audubon Society and Water Environmental Services.'

Eric Shawn noted that 'a large part of the environmental focus [in North Clackamas Park] is on the wetlands and wildlife.'

He noted that Mt. Scott flows through the park and merges with Kellogg Creek, and a separate 'creeklet' has its origin in the park, and flows year round.

He would like to see 'protective buffers' established at the park, and added, 'We'd like to provide some education for adults and kids as they're in the park.

'We'd like to have the wetlands marked off with educational signage and storyboards throughout the park with the story of the wildlife.'

County residents Steve Berliner and Dick Shook were among the members of Friends of Mt. Scott and Kellogg Creeks who attended the event.

'The price of preserving these lands is of special appeal to me as a small-business owner,' Berliner said.

Because the three counties, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington, will share the bond measure funds, 'money can be leveraged more effectively. Because of the large base, we don't get hit heavy in the pocketbook, and there will be a lot more money to buy property.

'As a bird watcher and photographer, I appreciate natural areas all over the region,' he added.

Shook wanted voters to realize that 'the assessed value' of a home, 'is not the same as market value.'

And, he added, 'Having natural areas [in the neighborhoods] improves property values.'

Natural areas define Oregon

'People in Oregon define the state by its natural beauty,' Newman said.

'We may only get one bite at this apple. I know it's a sacrifice, but it's an investment in our future. We know this region is going to grow and the boundaries are going to expand, so we need to purchase this land, before people don't want to sell,' he added.

Newman concluded, 'We have a connection to the landscape - make that a personal connection.

'That's what makes you an Oregonian, whether you've lived here 50 years or 5 minutes. [Measure 26-80] preserves everything we love about Oregon.'