Every time I drive into this town, I see a sign that says Tree City USA.
During the recent wildfires and smoke, when I was glued to my phone to see if my kids and I could safely go outside, I noticed that the air quality in Lake Oswego was better than Portland. It always is, and it's no accident. We can thank Lake Oswego's strong policy of protecting trees.
When I moved here, I came for the natural areas, trails, plentiful tree cover, better air quality, and access to creeks and rivers — specifically Oswego Creek, the Willamette River, and Hallinan Creek. I wanted myself and my kids to be able to breathe clean air and immerse ourselves in nature every day.
I'm not alone. The vast majority of Lake Oswegans support protecting natural areas and using public funds to do so. They made their voices heard in the 2018 survey on parks, recreation and natural areas. In that survey, the top three priorities were: swimming pool, renovate park structures, and acquire natural areas.
The voters passed the parks bond in 2019 by a commanding 63%. Part of that bond included a mandate to protect natural areas. The 2.07-acre Yates property meets and exceeds all of the standards for protecting natural areas in Lake Oswego:
It is within a habitat cluster as identified by the Lake Oswego Parks, Recreation and Natural Areas Department.
The property is directly adjacent to a local trail, which is also a planned regional trail.
It borders an existing natural area on two sides.
It is supported by the citizens advisory board, neighborhood, and other local entities.
The funds are there — via the parks bond and system development charges.
This acquisition is supported by the Lake Oswego School Board (2018 vote), Lake Oswego Parks, Recreation and Natural Areas Board (2018 vote), Hallinan Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization, Hallinan Heights Neighborhood Association, Skylands Neighborhood Association, Glenmorrie Neighborhood Association, South Shore-McVey Neighborhood Association, Old Town Neighborhood Association, Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District and Oswego Lake Watershed Council.
City council needs to act now to make this happen, before it's too late. This week, the first 27 trees are being cut down on the property to make way for development. It's almost too late — but not yet. Please listen to voters, keep their trust and make a fair market value offer on this property before it's too late.
Thank you Councilors Manz, Lamotte and Kohlhoff for working to make an offer to acquire the Yates property. Mayor Studebaker and Councilors Wendland, O'Neill and Nguyen: What are you waiting for? What else do you need to act on this? There is no other natural area waiting for your protection. We, the citizens, have done our job. Now it's your turn.
Brady Bennon is a father, husband, history teacher, angler, and Hallinan Heights resident.
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