Preserving Open Space in Central Oregon

Preserving land that could be used for agriculture is at the heart of Oregon’s visionary land use laws.  The State’s policy preserves open land for agriculture in order to both conserve natural resources and to minimize the public costs of servicing sprawling development with schools, roads, police, fire, and utilities. 

By containing most residential development inside cities and preserving agricultural land in the rural county, we can ensure that our urban areas are vibrant and equitable while our rural areas are preserved in trust for future generations.

Photo: Austin Montreil Leonard

Photo: Austin Montreil Leonard

However, Deschutes County recently approved an application that runs contrary to those statewide goals and associated laws. The approval was for a rezoning of 541 acres near Laidlaw Butte (just west of the community of Tumalo) for the development of up to 74 homes.

A development of this scale in such a prominent location would not only forever change the character of rural Tumalo, but would also fragment one of the largest remaining tracts of undeveloped land in the area.To protect Tumalo from this inappropriate development, Central Oregon LandWatch appealed the County’s approval to the State Land Use Board of Appeals.

A portion of this property was a pumice and cinder mine for several decades, and mining operations wrapped up over 10 years ago.  Mining is a temporary activity that ends when the minerals have all been extracted.  Now that those minerals have been extracted on this property, the land should be made available for agricultural use or open space, and not a huge new housing development.

LandWatch is committed to preserving Central Oregon’s quality of life for the long-term.  By upholding our land use goals, we are preserving future generations’ ability to enjoy the beautiful vistas, abundant wildlife, and agricultural opportunities that we have today.