Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Coastal Projects Threaten Landowners' Property and Salmon Habitat
Floras Lake Dam: Curry County Refuses to Work with Agencies and Goes to the Legislature   
Illegal Curry County Dam at Floras Lake, July 2016. Courtesy WRD
Curry County continues to refuse any cooperation with state or federal agencies over the riprap dam they built across the outlet to Floras Lake. Recently the Board of County Commissioners considered , and rejected,  the option of complying with the Department of State Lands' removal-fill  laws and paying  the $6,000 fine for building the illegal  dam. The County's  request for a contested case hearing to oppose  DSL's enforcement  has now been set for August of this year. The legal case the County filed against DSL is also, separately, proceeding. The County has not applied for a water storage permit from the Water Resources Department either, presumably because  that would  require providing fish passage. But they have hired a consultant to do the "pre-permitting" work.

BOC  also considered how to pay for rebuilding the dam so it would  include fish passage. The County estimated such a dam, including permits and construction drawings, would cost somewhere around $180,000. The County does not have that money, so  they  considered borrowing from the Road Fund.  To repay it, the  County would set up a local improvement district of the properties around Floras Lake that would benefit from the  dam. Each  benefited property would pay a monthly amount until reimbursement was complete.

Instead, the County turned to the Legislature, hoping to get state money. House Bill 2984  would appropriate $250,000 from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board's general fund specifically for a grant (not a loan) to Curry County for replacing the "control device" they illegally built on Floras Lake. The bill was introduced by  Representative  David Brock Smith, Senator Roblan and Senator Kruse,  and has been assigned to the House Energy and Environment Committee.

It  is inappropriate  that Curry County has built an illegal dam, refuses to cooperate with the five state and federal agencies that are concerned about the Threatened coho run  in Floras Lake , continues to use scarce  County  monies to support two legal  actions, and  then proposes to use scarce OWEB monies that should go for fish habitat restoration to replace the structure. If the County wants a dam in that location, it should be properly built with fish passage, and the benefiting properties should pay for it. ORCA sees no compelling reason why the state's taxpayers should subsidize this project, which benefits so small a number of people for so slight a reason as lifting lake water levels  a little  in the dry sumer months . We again call upon Curry County to take stock of the options,  obey the laws,  and begin to act as a steward of its natural resources within its own budget constraints.

TPUD Preparing to Go Ahead with Oceanside Transmission Line  
TPUD Proposed Oceanside Transmission Line Route. Courtesy TPUD      
By all indications, Tillamook People's Utility District is gearing up to apply for the necessary city and county permits to construct its proposed Oceanside Transmission Line (OTL). This line would cross Exclusive Farm Use farmland, private forestland and the new Southern Flow Corridor wetland restoration project. There are many landowner concerns about the OTL. These include the documented health effects of electromagnetic field exposure on humans and animals, the impacts of a powerline crossing farmers' fields, the dramatic reduction in property values for properties that have a powerline crossing them, and many others.

As part of its powerline permitting process, TPUD  must have  permission from landowners for surveys, construction, right-of-way and maintenance. And if landowners do not grant TPUD the easements they require? The utility has the power to use eminent domain to condemn the land they need, if they can show a "public use." Condemnation would be highly controversial and unpopular in Tillamook County. ORCA hopes Tillamook PUD will reassess this powerline, and work to provide any needed grid stability or  increased capacity  to the Oceanside area via improvements to existing infrastructure. It is clear from the PUD's own data that there is no need for the Oceanside Transmission Line, and it therefore serves no public use.

Helping OPRD Manage Coastal Parks
Oregon Coast Sunset. Courtesy OPRD 
Our coastal parks are the gem of the  Oregon  state park system. Perhaps that is one reason why coast park visitorship has been increasing massively in the last few years. This has placed the Parks and Recreation Department in a bind, without enough funding to keep up with its maintenance backlog, or enough on-the-ground personnel to deal with visitor safety, marine debris removal, trash removal, emergencies and similar issues.

House Bill 2506/Senate Bill 745 would create a new Ocean Beach Fund for the Department. It would be funded by the transient lodging tax OPRD collects at its own campgrounds, which currently goes to the Oregon Tourism Commission. Judging by recent figures, this would provide OPRD with a couple hundred thousand dollars of funding per year. It isn't a lot, but would provide a little safety net for  OPRD's coastal parks management needs.

ORCA supports this bill. Funding the Oregon Tourism Commission is important, but funding the coastal state parks that are a key linchpin  for  Oregon tourism is even more important, to ensure that visitors have a quality experience. All of Oregon's beaches are public, and OPRD manages them as a State Recreation Area. Nearly all coastal visits are largely focused on beach-walking. At the 50th anniversary of the Beach Bill, which made our beaches forever public, this is a good time to reinvest in protecting our beaches.

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Contact Information
Contact Executive Director Cameron La Follette by  email
or phone: 503-391-0210
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