Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Local Weather

Cloudy

57°F

Portland

Cloudy

Humidity: 89%

Wind: 3 mph

  • 30 Sep 2014

    PM Showers 66°F 51°F

  • 1 Oct 2014

    AM Clouds/PM Sun 65°F 48°F


Vote to protect our investment in nature

My View: Metro plan helps weave communities, natural areas for the future


Among the most highly valued assets in the Metro region are our parks and natural areas.

The area’s voters have twice asked Metro, the regional government agency, to secure lands for protection and preservation. As a region, we now own more than 90 miles of riverbanks and streambanks, and 16,000 acres of natural areas and habitat.

As with all assets, if they are not protected and maintained, they will deteriorate and be more costly to restore down the road. Measure 26-152, on the May 21 ballot, will protect the taxpayers’ investment.

For less than $20 a year for the typical homeowner, Measure 26-152 will allow us to improve water quality in rivers and streams, restore and preserve local watersheds and wildlife habitat, as well as keep some of the region’s most beautiful places safe and accessible to the community.

This request is not made without planning and public input. Last summer, I served on a regionwide panel to review the current and projected needs of Metro’s natural areas and parks.

After a thoughtful and judicious process, the group recommended that Metro place a conservative five-year levy on the May ballot. This will create a dedicated fund to maintain and restore natural areas and parks in Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties.

This isn’t an extravagant request. Metro chose 9.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value — less than the 12 cents the panel advised — and has demonstrated its commitment to a frugal use of taxpayer dollars. These potential investments are prioritized for improving water quality, resource protection, taking care of assets, equity and access, and public safety.

Repair and maintenance now of these lands around our region’s rivers will save us money in the long run. Lands purchased by the voters often need restoration, including removal of invasive weed species that choke out plants that wildlife depend on for food and shelter. Taking care of them now, when the problems are smaller, helps ensure that our tax dollars can be used for a broader array of projects, too.

These funds will allow us to restore areas in all three counties. In Washington County, it will provide key habitat for wildlife at Council Creek. Invasive species will be removed at multiple sites along Willamette Narrows in Clackamas County, allowing for the planting of native species as well as solidifying habitat gains of oaks. Side channels will be built along areas of the Sandy River in Multnomah County that will provide places for smolt to rest as they make their journey. It is a key piece to rebuilding the wild salmon population.

These are just a few examples, and more can be found at restoreournaturalareas.com.

Our natural spaces and parks are part of the rich tapestry that weaves our communities together. It is up to each of us to help make sure that this legacy remains in place today and for our future.

Wilda Parks is the former chief executive officer of the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce.