Groundbreaking new protections proposed for 717 acres west of Bend

Last night, LandWatch advocated for wildlife habitat and protection from wildfire risk adjacent to Shevlin Park by supporting an application for a new zone in Deschutes County. The proposal to create a Westside Transect zone will extend to the county the 2016 UGB concept of tapering density as the city boundary nears the forest where there is higher risk of wildfire.

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You wouldn’t know it when you’re enjoying a peaceful moment among the Aspens, but Shevlin Park and the canyon that carries Tumalo Creek to its confluence with the Middle Deschutes have long been a battlefield for LandWatch between development interests and wildlife protection. This stretch of land is a critical connection for the yearly migration of Mule Deer – and it’s a high-risk area for wildfire that would easily spread.

For years, LandWatch has successfully blocked hundreds of acres of private land in this area from being brought into the city’s urban growth boundary. If we hadn’t been on the front lines, landowners would have been able to build close to five thousand new homes between Tumalo Creek and Skyline Ranch Rd.That level of development would not only destroy the last remaining links for the Tumalo Deer Winter Range, but would also create a tinderbox for wildfire to spread from the forest to the city.

 The  Awbrey Hall fire  burned 22 homes west of Bend in 1990

The Awbrey Hall fire burned 22 homes west of Bend in 1990

OUR LEGAL EFFORTS MADE ROOM FOR NEGOTIATION

Recently, fighting has turned into talking. I have been working with the owners of this land to negotiate the Westside Transect Zone proposal for 717-acres that came before a Hearings Officer last night. Thank you to all of the neighbors who attended the hearing to support the new zone, which would limit development to a maximum of 200 single-family homes with minimum lot sizes of 2.5 acres. If approved, the new zone would require designing subdivisions to integrate with the surrounding natural landscape by minimizing the impact on wildlife habitat and reducing the risk of wildfire.

More than three decades of experience has taught me that our effective and pragmatic approach to requiring well-planned growth and development in Central Oregon will only be successful if we learn to play chess instead of checkers. Chess is about the long game, and that’s exactly what we’re looking to win with the Westside Transect Zone in Deschutes County.

Very Truly Yours,

Paul Dewey