The Metro regional government, which guides growth for Portland, Ore. and its suburbs, last month released its latest “Core 4” draft map of proposed rural and urban reserves. The map shows where urban-style development would be allowed, and where it would be off limits, for the next 50 years. Many in agriculture have been critical of the plan for not preserving enough farmland. Conservation groups have agreed, and this morning, a coalition of ag and conservation groups (including the Oregon Association of Nurseries) announced the release of an alternative to the “Core 4” map (PDF):
“Farmers and conservation groups have often disagreed in the past,” said Washington County Farm Bureau President Dave Vanasche, “but on this issue we strongly agree: urban sprawl destroys valuable farmland, streams, and wildlife habitat. Our proposal achieves a balance of protection for agriculture and natural resources while providing for common sense future growth in the region.”
Jeff Stone, director of government relations for the OAN, noted that agriculture in the tri-county area (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas) around Portland are very valuable to Oregon’s economy, and were responsible for more than $745 million in sales in 2008. “Protection of agricultural land is vital to a strong economy, keeping and creating local jobs,” Stone said. Read the complete press release or coverage via the Capital Press (Salem, Ore.).
The coalition’s proposal comes as Metro kicks off a series of meetings (Jan. 11 through Jan. 21) at various locations (Hillsboro, Gresham, Wilsonville, Sherwood, Portland) to gather input on rural and urban reserves. View the schedule here. The deadline for all input is Friday, Jan. 22, 2010.
UPDATE: Coverage also from the Portland Tribune.