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Save Helvetia citizen testimony at the October 27th Washington County Commissioners meeting

Cherry Amabisca
Reflections on the area north of Highway 26

From: Cherry Amabisca
Date: October 27, 2009
To: Chair Brian and Washington County Board of Commissioners
Re: Reflections on the area north of Highway 26

As you deliberate about rural reserves over the next few months, I would like to encourage you to consider designating the area north of Highway 26 as Rural Reserves. The blue binder I’m giving to each of you contains our analysis of the Rural Reserve factors and shows how this area meets the legal justification for Rural Reserves. I hope you read what we’ve prepared and consider the following points:

  1. Under Factor (4), you have the authority to deem that Foundation Agricultural Lands within 3 miles of a UGB qualify for designation as rural reserves without further explanation. Since all of the land proposed for urban reserves north of Highway 26 are Foundation Ag Lands and all are within 3 miles of a UGB, you could make this process a whole lot easier by simply exercising your authority under OAR-660-027-0040 (10) and declare this area Rural Reserves!
  2. If you designate the area north of Highway 26 as Rural Reserves, you would be joining a number of groups that have come out and endorsed Rural Reserves north of 26 - I’ve included a list in your binder.
  3. There are two sections that describe how this area is an important plant and wildlife habitat under Factor (3)(c). Our studies and research of the Oregon white oak habitat and the elk herds that use this area as both habitat and wildlife corridor has gained regional attention. The Nature Conservancy is reviewing our results and using our data as part of some of the habitat work they are doing in the Willamette Valley. And, we’ve been asked to submit abstracts to present at the 8th Annual Urban Ecology and Conservation Symposium to be held at PSU in January, 2010.
  4. Some of you are already familiar with the recreational and cultural aspects of this area as described in Factor (3) (e) and (3)(h). Dick took part in a bike/study tour of the Helvetia area last week and Desari attended the Helvetia Culture Fest, where we had six generations of Swiss descendants as well as representatives from the Grand Ronde. Thank you for taking the interest in seeing firsthand the special qualities of this unique area.
  5. Another binder that has been submitted into the record is called “The Hydrology of the Helvetia area”. It describes the unique geology, geography, hydrology and sub-surface drainage system of the area north of Highway 26. Much of that material was created over the past 30 years as the community fought the State of Oregon’s attempts to site four landfills and two prisons in this area. We prevailed in all cases and we would like to urge you to be smarter than the state - protect this valuable resource that serves not just the residents of Washington County, but the residents of the entire Portland Metro region. Do the right thing and designate the area north of Highway 26 as Rural Reserves!

I wish you success as you work your way through these challenging decisions.

Thank you.

Cherry Amabisca

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