Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
The New Year - Illegal Dams, Houses on Forestland, Golf Courses
Curry County Builds and Defends an Illegal Dam at Floras Lake   
Illegal Curry County Dam at Floras Lake, July 2016. Courtesy WRD
In 2016, Curry County built a riprap dam  in place of an old failing wooden dam  across the outlet at Floras Lake, the popular dunal lake  near Langlois. The County  did the work without  a removal-fill permit from the Department of State Lands, without a water right to store water from the Water Resources Department, and without fish passage, despite stringent requirements from both the Department of Fish and Wildlife and NOAA  Fisheries.

The Water Resources Department posted a notice in July that the County was illegally storing water without a permit. The County has not yet applied for the required WRD water storage permit. If and when they do, the Department of Fish and Wildlife will require them to address fish passage as required by law, most probably leading to an extensive, and expensive, rebuilding of the structure.

The Department of State Lands (DSL) notified the County that a removal-fill permit was required. Instead of applying or working out a solution with DSL, the County filed suit in Curry County Circuit Court, arguing the removal-fill law does not apply!  When the County refused to comply with the removal-fill law, DSL issued an enforcement order and levied a $6,000 fine. The County then filed for a contested case hearing against DSL to fight the enforcement order.

The County would also need a permit for the structure from the Army Corps of Engineers, which of necessity must also address fish standards, federal ones this time, via NOAA Fisheries. The County has not applied for a Corps permit either, but  its activities  are the subject of an enforcement case by the Corps.

The purpose of the dam is to raise lake level a little during low water months for the sake of lakeshore owners and a County campground at Boice Cope County Park. It is a complete fish passage barrier. Curry County is in an untenable situation, with three permitting agencies and two fish and wildlife agencies all telling the County the dam is illegal. It seems the County's best route would be to sit down with the agencies and discuss the requirements, the options, and the solutions. It may very well be that dam removal is the best option. Or perhaps a rebuilt dam with full fish passage, in which the County, the landowners and other beneficiaries contribute to the costs. 

The least helpful course is for the impoverished County to fight all the agencies in court and administrative hearings, refuse to get permits, and continue handling the situation as it is presently. That does not benefit the imperiled salmon runs or Floras Lake landowners, wastes taxpayer money in a County with few resources, and forces state and federal agencies to spend money enforcing their rules. Curry County is a unit of government. It should provide an example of seeking collaboration and innovative solutions rather than building, and then defending, a dam considered illegal by the oversight agencies. ORCA would be happy to help in exploring workable options, and hopes the County becomes willing to do the same.

Lewis and Clark Timberlands Wants to Build Houses on Forestland Near Cannon Beach  
Lewis and Clark Timberlands Proposed Waterhouse Road Homesites, January 2017. Courtesy ODF      
Lewis and Clark Timberlands filed papers with the Department of Forestry showing they propose to convert about 5,800 acres of prime timberland on Waterhouse Road near Cannon Beach into homesites. The parcels vary in size from 20 acres to nearly 6,000. They will have to file applications with Clatsop County Planning Department for partitions and lot line adjustments in order to create  the  lots. The minimum lot size in this Forestry zone is 80 acres, but there are many complicating factors in the ordinances. No applications have been filed yet with Clatsop County.

ORCA is strongly opposed to conversion of forestland into rural residential housing. Even though the land use laws may allow such  conversion in  some instances, it is still a bad idea. It cuts commercial forestland into smaller parcels, increases roads in an already highly roaded area, and places burdens on rural fire, water, sanitary and other services. It is also completely unnecessary housing; it is simply an effort by a timber company to wring more profit out of its holdings, without regard to the community or the ecology of an area. ORCA is keeping watch on this project to see if the company follows through and submits  an  application, which would then trigger a public process  through Clatsop County's land use ordinances.

Golf Course Proposals Heating Up: Knapp Ranch (February 14 Hearing) and Camp Meriwether
Golf Course Survey Stake at Camp Meriwether. Photos taken December. 2016 
Camp Meriwether: Michael Keiser's negotiations with Cascade Pacific Council of Boy Scouts of America for a golf course at Camp Meriwether are continuing. There have been no public announcements  and no application filed with Tillamook County,  but it is clear that discussions are  proceeding. Survey stakes have appeared in the targeted area  as recently as December 2016. ORCA remains adamantly opposed to a golf course at Camp Meriwether. It would ruin the camp itself, as well as a fine piece of undeveloped coastline, and drastically change the experience of adjacent Cape Lookout State Park.

Knapp Ranch: Port Orford Planning Commission is holding a hearing on the proposal by the Knapp Ranch golf course developers  (Elk River Property Development) to build a pipeline for carrying  the city's effluent to the golf course for irrigation. The hearing will be:

Tuesday, February 14th
6:00 PM
Port Orford City Council Chambers, Port Orford City Hall 
20th and Idaho Streets

This is only  a hearing about the portion of the proposed pipeline that crosses Port Orford's jurisdiction. There is no hearing scheduled for the portion of the pipeline that crosses Curry County jurisdiction. Second, the applicants submitted two applications: one for a preferred pipeline route, and for an alternative route. As the Port Orford public notice explains, "each application will be subject to its own hearing, and will be subject to its own decision by the Planning  Commission ."

Are you interested in the development of further golf courses on our south coast, and all the many issues related to this question  in the Port Orford area?  Please participate in  this upcoming hearing.

The Legislature Begins in February: Lots of Bills Coming Up
Oregon State Capitol. Courtesy M.O. Stevens 
The 2017 Legislature is set to begin in February. There will of course be many bills of interest to ORCA's members, and we will keep you apprised as best as we can. Legislative hearings often move very quickly, so the window for writing testimony can be short. Here is  a brief list of some presession -filed bills of interest:

SB 3 (support): The bill to put a permanent regulatory framework into place to limit suction-dredge gold mining  in sensitive waterways,  in order to protect salmon habitat and river ecology.  This bill is already scheduled for a hearing on February 6th at 3:00 pm.

HB 2506 (support): Creation of the Ocean Beach Fund, to provide  additional funding  for the Parks and Recreation Department  to deal with dramatically increased visitorship in coastal state parks.   OPRD has no funds to hire more beach rangers to keep the parks in good shape . Our coastal parks need help, and this bill goes some ways to providing it.

HB 2708 (oppose): A poorly drafted bill requiring the Department of Land Conservation and Development to amend the Beaches and Dunes Goal (Goal 18) to include "current bioengineering measures" as a permissible shoreline protective measure. The bill contains no definitions, and is completely unnecessary. The current Rule has open-ended language that would allow various protection methods . It is a  bad idea to write specific technologies into the law.

HB 2538 (oppose):  Requires the Land Use Board of Appeals to award "reasonable" attorney fees and expenses and actual damages equal to "any substantial economic loss" suffered by the prevailing party as a result of project delays from the lawsuit. In other words, if someone sues at LUBA and loses, the developer would get damages for the delays to their project the lawsuit cost them. Apart from being an unfair burden on citizen participation in land use proceedings, it is impossible to determine "actual damages equal to any substantial economic loss." This bill would, as intended, chill land use lawsuits.

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