Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Portland-area residents probably don’t know the exact scale of the natural riches they own. As the Metro regional government has purchased land in the past two decades, it has accumulated 16,000 acres of wetlands, future parks, forests and other properties crucial for wildlife habitat.

These sites — stretching from the marshy 373-acre Killin Wetlands west of Banks to the stunning canyons and streams that run through the Deep Creek area near Damascus — were obtained thanks to the generosity of voters and property owners who funded two separate bond measures in 1995 and 2006 for open-space acquisition. However, in the years since these two measures passed, Metro has done very little to maintain its land or to open up much of it for public use.

That’s why Metro is now returning to voters in the May 21 election to ask for money to restore wildlife habitat, remove invasive weeds, improve public access and generally do a better job of taking care of its vast holdings.

This levy request is fairly straightforward.

If approved, Measure 26-152 would impose a five-year local option levy of 9.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, raising more than $10 million a year through 2018. The money would be used to restore wildlife habitat, provide nature education programs and community Nature in Neighborhood grants and construct and upgrade park restrooms, shelters and playgrounds.

Leading up to this election, several suburban mayors complained that Metro’s levy could cut into their cities’ tax collections. Yet, at less than 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, this levy will have almost no impact on property-tax compression. As far as affordability, it will cost the typical homeowner less than $2 per month.

Others have said (and we agree) that Metro could have carved out more money over the years to perform routine maintenance and to give the public access to the properties it has purchased. And we, too, have questions about why some far-flung properties, outside the Metro boundaries, were added in the first place.

But voters have twice said they wanted Metro to protect sensitive areas from development, demonstrating that preserving nearby nature is important to them. It is, in fact, one of the core values that unites urban and suburban communities.

For most metro-area residents, this region’s livability is defined in large part by the hills, forests, streams, wildlife and wetlands that give Northwestern Oregon its allure. We imagine voters already are highly motivated to approve a measure that so closely conforms to their values. So we recommend — with some reservations about what could have been done in the past — that voters continue their commitment to preservation by approving Ballot Measure 26-152.

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