LandWatch Files Appeal to Protect Riparian Habitat

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Central Oregon LandWatch is the only group on the front lines in defense of Deschutes County’s wildlife habitat code protections. Last week, we filed an appeal of an alarming change to the county’s Flood Plain Zone to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

Like dozens of citizens who submitted public comments on this issue, we value iconic and natural views of the Deschutes River and Tumalo Creek; we value the otters, beavers, and fish that bring our waterways to life; we valuethe beautiful song of the Yellow Warbler and the flight of waterfowl.

FISH & FURBEARERS IN THE FLOODPLAIN ZONE

In Central Oregon’s arid climate, our wetlands and riparian areas serve as especially critical habitat for many wildlife species. However, the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners recently voted to eliminate important protections for fish and mammals in the Flood Plain Zone.  
  
Since 1988, Deschutes County's Flood Plain Zone has been in place primarily to conserve riparian habitat and scenery along the Deschutes and Little Deschutes Rivers and Tumalo Creek. One of the important aspects of the zone was the 80-acre minimum lot size, which prevents fragmentation and development that would harm habitat. 

 Thirty-eight species of fish and wildlife that are threatened, endangered, or species of concern in Deschutes County are dependent on riparian areas. Furbearers in Deschutes County that rely on wetland and riparian habitat include beavers, river otters, red foxes, bobcats, and jackrabbits. Photo: Tom Beans

Thirty-eight species of fish and wildlife that are threatened, endangered, or species of concern in Deschutes County are dependent on riparian areas. Furbearers in Deschutes County that rely on wetland and riparian habitat include beavers, river otters, red foxes, bobcats, and jackrabbits. Photo: Tom Beans

FLOOD PLAIN ZONE PROTECTIONS DECIMATED

The Deschutes County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to weaken the Flood Plain Zone by changing it to an overlay, eliminating the 80-acre minimum lot size, and removing language indicating the Flood Plain Zone's important purpose of conserving riparian habitat and scenery along local waterways.

This change will allow new housing to be built close to the Deschutes River at densities up to 8x more than what is currently allowed. 

OUR DEFENSE OF RIPARIAN HABITAT

LandWatch filed an appeal to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals challenging the changes to the Flood Plain Zone because of the impacts they would have on our riparian habitat and local wildlife.