Letter: Land planned for industry is rare fertile farmland
I attended the Port Westward rezone meeting in Clatskanie on Aug. 2 and presented my petition against the rezoning of 837 acres of prime agricultural land to industrial use. This farmland is made up of Wauna Locola silt loam, making it comparable to the Willamette Valley in its ability to produce luscious food in abundance. Making this change would not only put many people out of jobs, but would add to the shrinking production of good food for our county. The loss is not worth the gain.
Another objection to the project the Port of St. Helens is pushing is that much of the lands abutting the dock are unspoiled tidal wetlands, as is the Thompson family property. This is a prime rearing habitat for salmon as well as other wildlife. This, and the surrounding estuaries must not be harmed, and the risks of harm created by the transport and storage of fossil fuels is far too great, not to mention the increased traffic congestion created by the trains. Also the trains do not carry the insurance needed to repair damages, nor are they required to disclose this information.
The threats of the fault lines on the Oregon coast shifting and that of Cascadia Subduction Zone have been mentioned. However, I have not heard anyone mention the terrific dangers of ships crossing the Columbia Bar — at times the most difficult and dangerous of bars to cross.
Another objection is the local history and cultural mores of the area. The first Europeans landing in this area in about 1780 are thought to have been killed by the Native Americans living there. In 1802, Lewis and Clark recorded the Seine-horse net fishing habits of the Natives living there. The scant history I was able to obtain was that the tribes that lived there were part of the Multnomah Nation and were relocated to Grand Ronde. The likelihood of Native burial grounds there is indisputable.
This land is a unique habitat, historical and a cultural treasure, not to be raped by money-hungry corporations who will benefit at the expense of the people of Columbia County. Global Partners LP will buy the land once it is rezoned and their intentions are well known. Big oil is a dying industry, but its hold is tenacious.
Please listen to your constituents and to your conscience when you make your decision. The requirements to protect us have not been met.