June 26, 2008

Portland Metro Makes Key Land Purchase

By Tyler Graf

With a goal of protecting rural land south of Lake Oswego, Metro has purchased 25 acres of land in the Stafford Basin for $1.8 million. The triangle-shaped area, which is located in the Tualatin River basin, includes five lots that will now be protected from future development.

The purchase is Metro's first in the basin, and came from a natural-areas bond measure that passed in 2006. The measure set aside $227 million to protect natural lands near rivers and streams. Overall, Metro plans to purchase between 3,500 and 4,500 acres. The agency formalized its acquisition strategy in September.

"Usually, this land runs along watersheds," said Metro Council President David Bragdon. "We need to protect the water quality in the streams."Stafford Basin has been mentioned in the same breath as urban growth boundary expansion.

In the late 1990s, for example, Metro tried to apportion 800 acres of the basin into the UGB, but the state rejected the idea.

In the ensuing years, Metro's attitude has shifted toward protection of the area. Still, the possibility of subdivision development within the basin worries Three Rivers Land Conservancy Director Jayne Cronlund.

Since 1997, her nonprofit organization, which works to preserve open space in the Portland metro region, has worked in conjunction with the city of Lake Oswego, and in some cases, Metro, to either purchase Stafford Basin land outright or convince landowners to donate their property for the sake of environmental protection.

"We recognized that Stafford Basin was a place where growth and development had been projected for a long time," Cronlund said. "And we recognized regardless of urban growth boundary decisions, preserving some of these open spaces and permanently protecting them would be a good idea to leave a legacy."

Without Metro stepping in to purchase the 25 acres it recently bought, Cronlund's group wouldn't have been able to afford to buy the land right now, she said.

So far, Three Rivers Land Conservancy has protected 30 properties, totaling 500 acres, in the Portland metro area. Two hundred of those acres have been located in the Stafford Basin, including two properties - Luscher Farm and Sunny Slope - that connect to the land Metro just purchased.

Originally published by Tyler Graf.

(c) 2008 Daily Journal of Commerce (Portland, OR). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.