Action Alert! Central Oregon Wildlife Needs Your Help

Your opportunity to protect wildlife in 2019 is right now! Deschutes County is proposing amendments to its comprehensive plan that would significantly reduce protections for Central Oregon wildlife, including mule deer, songbirds, herons, beavers, otters, mink, foxes, bobcats, quail, grouse, frogs, fish, and many more.

TODAY, August 8, the County Planning Commission will consider changes to TWO separate zones, one that threatens Deer Winter Range habitat, and one that threatens riparian and wetlands habitat. It is important to comment on BOTH proposed amendments. Look for background and talking points below.

DESCHUTES COUNTY PLANNING
COMMISSION HEARINGS

Thursday, August 8 - 5:30pm

Deschutes Services Center - Barnes and Sawyer Rooms
1300 NW Wall Street, Bend, OR 97703


Email the Planning Commission with your comments:
PlanningCommission@deschutes.org

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WILDLIFE AREA COMBINING ZONE AMENDMENTS


The County is proposing changes to the wildlife zone protections that prohibit assemblies of people that are disruptive to wildlife. These assemblies include schools, recreation centers, golf courses and churches, among many others. This amendment proposes that churches should be allowed in the wildlife zone,opening the door for other assemblies in critical habitat.


Noisy and disruptive activity is prohibited in the Deer Winter Range for a reason—because it is detrimental to our wildlife. Winter range in the County is already at risk from currently permitted uses.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), winter range is an essential, limited wildlife habitat. Any loss in the quality or quantity of winter range will result in the depletion of mule deer herds. The amount of winter range habitat available is already insufficient or barely sufficient to sustain mule deer populations over time. (See ODFW's 2017 letter regarding winter range protections here.)

If you love Central Oregon wildlife, make your voice heard TOMORROW at 5:30 before the Planning Commission. Tell them not to weaken protections for wildlife in Deschutes County.

(Make sure to keep reading so you can protect the floodplain, too!)


WILDLIFE AREA COMBINING ZONE TALKING POINTS
“I oppose the County’s proposal to allow assemblies in the deer winter range because…”

  • Our deer population is dwindling. It is more important than ever to protect habitat from the disruption and degradation associated with assemblies of people.

  • Deer are as much a part of Central Oregon as the Three Sisters and the Deschutes River. Critical habitat should not be lost to further development.

  • Allowing religious assemblies in the winter range sets a dangerous precedent for our wildlife. If such assemblies are allowed, other types that are currently prohibited such as golf courses, schools, public rec centers, and others can argue that they should be allowed in the winter range or other critical habitat, too. This would quickly erode wildlife habitat protections.

  • Mule deer are protected by Land Use Planning Goal 5. Making an exception to this goal can lead to other Goal 5-protected resources, such as wetlands and riparian areas, being compromised.

  • Mule deer are part of the Central Oregon way of life. The county should stand up to defend its protection of critical habitat.


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The other proposed amendments to the comprehensive plan being considered at tomorrow's hearing are changes to the County's Flood Plain Zone. These amendments would loosen development restrictions, allowing more dense development along rivers and streams.

Aside from protecting public and private property from hazards, the Flood Plain Zone conserves important riparian areas along rivers and streams, and preserves significant scenic and natural resources. The Interagency Wildlife Working Group on the Deschutes Comprehensive Plan states that approximately 80 percent of all wildlife species depend on riparian areas.

The floodplain offers invaluable habitat for Central Oregon wildlife including mule deer, songbirds, herons, beavers, otters, mink, foxes, bobcats, quail, grouse, frogs, fish, and many more.

The Flood Plain Zone is the most significant protection these animals have in Deschutes County’s code.

FLOOD PLAIN ZONE TALKING POINTS

"I oppose changes to the Flood Plain Zone because...

  • I care about otters, beavers, mink, bobcats, foxes, fish, songbirds, ducks and the many other species that depend on the Flood Plain Zone for protection.

  • Riparian areas along the Deschutes and Little Deschutes are critical habitat for the Oregon Spotted Frog, a “threatened” species on the Endangered Species list. Development will put this species at risk of becoming endangered.

  • Views of the Deschutes and Little Deschutes Rivers and Tumalo Creek are iconic and precious. Dense development along these rivers is not acceptable.

  • Wildlife are considered a public resource, and as a member of the public, I want the County to strengthen protections for wildlife, not weaken them.

DESCHUTES COUNTY PLANNING
COMMISSION HEARINGS

Thursday, August 8 - 5:30pm

Deschutes Services Center - Barnes and Sawyer Rooms
1300 NW Wall Street, Bend, OR 97703


Email the Planning Commission with your comments:
PlanningCommission@deschutes.org

The County's current protections for riparian areas, wetlands and Deer Winter Range preserve these critical habitats and protect wildlife. Our County's diverse wildlife and the habitats they need to survive are among what people love most about Central Oregon. Take action to protect wildlife TODAY.