Pamplin Media Group – NOTICE: Protecting Open Space in Washington County

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Andy Haugen: “Over 65,000 acres of farmland have been lost in Oregon since 2000.”

With all the recent attention to the topic of climate change at national and local level, it is important to remember and reflect on its societal effects on a broader basis and at the different levels contributing to this global problem.

Much of the current media and government attention is focused on clean energy, better infrastructure, environmental regulations and carbon credits, which is a start.

But citizens need to think about all the micro-issues that are contributing to climate change in their surrounding region. In this case, Washington County in general.

Over 65,000 acres of farmland have been lost in Oregon since 2000. One could even argue that the large-scale developments taking place everywhere are worse for the environment on the planet, given the amount of resources. and the energy it takes to build housing estates. and paving virgin land with asphalt that can never be salvaged. We are losing the grass, insects, soil and wildlife that existed in this microenvironment.

Washington County currently does not have a county-wide tree code, which has been repeatedly rejected after groups like the Urban Greenspace Institute made proposals. It wasn’t until recently, in the development of South Cooper Mountain, that many old oak trees were simply felled in the name of progress.

The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission issued an enforcement order against Washington County for its failure to comply with statewide land use planning goals designed to protect important natural resources. Citizens worked with the county to develop new ordinances, ensuring that the remaining 15% of these wildlife habitats are protected in order to preserve their existence for future generations.

The Westside Hayden Rock quarry, as reported by the Pamplin Media Group, has been found in violation of several environmental regulations.

As recently as 2016, Intel, one of Oregon’s largest employers and polluters, asked the Department of Environmental Quality to grant a new permit increasing emission levels in some cases by more than double. , which DEQ complied with.

Currently, there are proposed ordinances 881, 882 and 883, which require an exception or approval to extend future roads through rural lands.

These are just a few examples in one Oregon county that have contributed to climate change rather than harming it.

On the contrary, open spaces and cultures have proven their benefits for the wider environment and climate change. In a 2010 study conducted in Mandan, North Dakota by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory, 50 acres of perennial alfalfa were grown without tillage without fertilizer, and they found over a six month period, the crop removed 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre.

While some progress is inevitable, it is essential that every citizen and public servant remember that everything has a cost, and at some point we will all have to decide whether the benefits outweigh those costs in tackling climate change, or if Oregon’s unofficial mantra of “keeping Oregon green” still applies.

Andy Haugen is a professor of social studies at Valley Catholic High School and president of Community Participation Organization 10 in Washington County. He lives near Hillsboro.


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