Short-sighted greed is poised to wreck the marvelous Metolius basin. It makes me sick. But there's something you and I can do about it: support Senate Bill 30, which would prohibit destination resorts in or within three miles of the basin.
And you can even pause on your stroll and enjoy a latte at the oh-so-charming Camp Sherman store.
The permanent population of Camp Sherman is about 200. Jefferson County has pushed through changes to the area's comprehensive plan that would allow two destination resorts to be built in the Metolius basin, adding up to 10,000 people in the area at peak times.
This Central Oregon Landwatch "Action Alert" (a PDF file) contains the disturbing details, along with ways you can urge passage of SB 30.
Recently the Portland Oregonian ran a story about this travesty in the making, "The Metolius River Basin: Natural getaway or county's cash cow?" The most infuriating quotation came from Bill Bellamy, a Jefferson County commissioner:
"Whether or not you like what destination resorts have done, it's phenomenally significant what they do to property tax revenues."
Wow, Bill. What a phenomenally dumb statement to make. You're willing to ruin a world-class river basin so a few extra bucks can flow into the county's tax coffers. If Jefferson County voters have any sense, they'll kick you out of office next time they have the chance.
Also infuriating was Bellamy's assertion that the county held public hearings before passing the resort zone and responded to concerns by paring down the size of the two properties earmarked for the destination resorts.
I know that the main hearing in Camp Sherman was packed with people opposed to the plan and that the opposition was virtually unanimous. I also know that the proposed Colson destination resort (on Green Ridge) is 10,000 acres, more than five times larger than the Black Butte Ranch resort, about six miles away.
How much did you pare down its size, Bill? From 10,001 acres? Thanks so much.
Friends of the Metolius has put up an informative web site about the threat posed to the basin. There's a map of where the resorts would be located.
Most importantly, you'll find names, email addresses, phone numbers, and snail mail addresses for the five members of the Senate Education and General Government committee.
Please let them know that you support SB 30. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday, April 5, 8:00 am, Hearing Room B at the State Capitol. Come and testify if you love the Metolius. Or even if you're just in like with the river.
One of my favorites relates our spontaneous participation in the Camp Sherman Independence Day parade. This is a wonderfully quirky community that can't be allowed to be swallowed up by destination resorts.
Yes to SB 30. No to Bill Bellamy and his property tax-crazed Jefferson County.