Taxpayers often say that government programs should be more frugal and productive. Meanwhile, business owners often complain that government should utilize incentives instead of regulations.

In the Nov. 7 general election, voters have a chance to match their investments with their opinions by supporting a second round of bonding to purchase and preserve natural areas and valuable habitat within the Portland metropolitan region.

Measure 26-80, which has been placed on the ballot by Metro, isn't free. But at an estimated cost of 19 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, the proposal is frugal, productive and incentive-driven.

The $227.4-million bond measure would do four important things.

First, it seeks to purchase 27 areas around the region that are considered environmentally significant wildlife, trail and natural areas, including several stream corridors and urban stream headwaters deemed important for protecting water quality and fish habitats.

Second, the measure would provide $44 million in funds to local cities and counties for community-based natural-area acquisitions and preservation, and for neighborhood parks and capital improvement projects.

Third, the measure would provide grant funding for schools, for nonprofit groups such as neighborhood associations and for park districts to improve the local environment.

Finally, the measure provides ongoing citizen oversight and an annual independent review of the program.

Passage of this measure would continue a legacy of regional environmental stewardship and success that began with voter approval of Metro's first natural-resource acquisition bond in the mid-1990s. That measure sought to purchase and protect 6,000 acres of land throughout the region, but actually ended up acquiring 8,100 acres of land and 74 miles of streams from willing sellers.

Voters ought to find Measure 26-80 well worth a yes vote in the Nov. 7 general election.

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