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Voters face Metro bond measure

Tri-county voters are being asked to approve a natural-areas bond measure in the Nov. 7 election. Measure 26-80, put forth by Metro, aims to preserve thousands of acres of natural lands - 200 of them in the Stafford Basin - and would offer funds for parks to cities, counties and neighborhoods.

The proposed bond measure would cost the average homeowner $64 per year if approved, assuming an assessed home value of $350,000. In all, it would generate $227.4 million for Metro - the regional authority governing land use - to buy open space, fund park development and offer grants for natural projects in urban areas.

The proposal sets aside $44 million for cities and counties to develop parks and $15 million for grants to neighborhoods. The remaining $168.4 million is expected to buy 3,500 to 4,500 acres of land in target areas throughout the region. Language in the bond measure prohibits the money from being used for condemnation.

In 1995, a similar campaign won the approval of about 62 percent of the region's voters. The result was $136 million spent on preserving more than 5,500 acres. In West Linn and Lake Oswego, 656 acres were acquired for open space in Willamette Narrows, Canemah Bluffs, the Tryon Creek area and the Stafford Basin.

This election's proposal, if approved, would garner $872,098 for park development in West Linn. Lake Oswego stands to net $1,222,510.

Wilson Creek, Tryon Creek, the Tualatin River and the Willamette Greenway - including the Willamette Narrows, would all be eyed for purchases if the bond measure passes. Those target areas were developed by a committee of business people, citizens and environmentalists using input from 40 public and private scientists in 2005.

In forums for West Linn and Lake Oswego in January, Metro councilors were encouraged to add Tannler East in West Linn to the mix. They were also asked to target more urban land for farming, but neither change was made. According to Brian Newman, Lake Oswego, the Metro councilor representing urban Clackamas County, preservation efforts by Tannler East developers will already protect sensitive land there. He said community agriculture would be supported by other areas of the program.

'I think our council is very interested in looking at partnering for community-supported agriculture on some of the parcels we buy,' he said. 'We're real open to that. It's not inconsistent at all with the bond measure, we just haven't developed clear policies on how we would make that work.'

Newman said grants for neighborhoods might also set aside agricultural land.

Grant money is geared toward small projects like the preservation of the Tryon Life Community Farm on Boones Ferry Road, which used similar funds to bank seven acres of land in a public trust near Tryon Creek State Park in January.