The Port of Portland's renewed effort to see west Hayden Island annexed into Portland and zoned for industrial uses already is attracting high-charged opposition from environmental interests, most particularly the Audubon Society of Portland.

As the Tribune's Steve Law reported last week, the port has rekindled its interest in seeing the 831 acres west of Jantzen Beach planned as a major industrial area to be served by deepwater oceangoing freighters, as well as national rail and freeway service. Previous attempts by the port to move ahead with such planning were shelved in 1999.

West Hayden Island is a highly prized piece of land for two reasons - it offers both a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as an industrial area and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to preserve urban natural habitat. But before discussions about the area's future devolve into stubborn single-mindedness, we suggest that all sides give the city's west Hayden Island advisory committee a chance to do its job.

All involved should take a breath and then listen, learn, engage, discuss and cooperate.

Who knows - the future for West Hayden Island may be even better for the environment, the community and the region's economy if everyone involved starts without having already decided who is an angel and who is a demon in this uniquely Portland theater.

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