After the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals ruled in favor of wildlife earlier this year, Deschutes County went back to court to challenge their ruling. In a recent ruling from the Court of Appeals, LUBA's decision was affirmed, upholding protections for wildlife in the deer winter range!
Mule deer are a treasured native species protected by Oregon Land Use Planning Goal 5, along with Oregon's other natural resources. For decades, Deschutes County’s wildlife zone has protected the winter range from uses like public schools, recreation centers and golf courses. These activities are prohibited because they degrade critical winter range habitat by generating public activity, noise, and habitat alterations.
Last year when Deschutes County proposed amending the code to weaken winter range protections, LandWatch's members and allies, including the friends of the Tumalo Wildlife Corridor, voiced their strong support for protection of winter range habitat and the species that depend on it.Despite the public outcry and unanimous opposition from its own Planning Commission, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners adopted the proposed amendment.
But we didn’t give up. Together with our supporters, we challenged the amendment to the State Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) and won! And this week we won again! You can read LUBA’s decision here and the Court of Appeal's decision here.
If you're getting déjà vu reading this update, it's because despite five decisions from the Land Use Board of Appeals and the Court of Appeals finding the County's actions unlawful, mistreatment of the Tumalo Deer Winter Range has been allowed to continue for nine years.
That is why cases like this require constant vigilance (and a lot of time and hard work!). Please support Central Oregon LandWatch so that we may continue to save wildlife and wildlife habitat where it counts - in the courts.