New plan would further protect Willamette River

The revised plan for reclaiming Ross Island is scheduled to be presented to the state Land Board this morning.

'I'm very pleased that the plan came together in a way that will provide for an environmentally sound project,' said Ann Hanus, director of the Division of State Lands, which approved the plan earlier this month.

The longtime mining site has been operated by Ross Island Sand & Gravel, which is owned by Robert Pamplin Jr., who also owns the Portland Tribune.

In 2001, Pamplin announced plans to turn the island over to the city of Portland for use as a park.

The original reclamation plan was approved in 1979. The revised plan was developed during the last two years by an advisory committee that included city Commissioner Erik Sten and Mike Houck, an urban naturalist for the Audubon Society of Portland.

According to Hanus, the significant differences between the two plans are:

• The 1979 plan would have required 20 years to complete; the new plan will be finished in approximately 10 years.

• The new plan includes a comprehensive monitoring program, which the previous plan did not address.

• The new plan creates 23 acres of wetlands to provide habitat for fish and wildlife; the 1979 plan did not include the habitat.

• The 1979 plan required the lagoon to be filled to an average depth of 20 feet, requiring more than 20 million cubic yards of fill; the new plan would leave some deep holes in the lagoon, requiring approximately 4.5 million cubic yards of fill.

• The original plan allowed a variety of fill materials to be used; the new plan specifies that only uncontaminated material approved by the state Department of Environmental Quality can be used.

Hanus said she approved the revised plan because it offers more protection for the Willamette River while still meeting environmental requirements.

Houck said he was pleased with the plan but requested that Ross Island donate the property to the city soon and set up an endowment fund to pay for restoration.

Houck also urged the mining company to improve fish and wildlife habitat at the nearby North Macadam Urban Renewal Area as mitigation for 75 years of mining in the area.

After Ross Island is donated to the city, the mining company will continue operating its nearby gravel processing plant on Hardtack Island. The two islands were connected by a 900-foot dike in 1927.

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