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Metolius River Basin ACSC
FINAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

MARCH 13 NEWS RELEASE

THE PROPOSED DESIGNATION OF A METOLIUS RIVER BASIN ACSC
Photo courtesy of John Hutmacher, Deschutes National Forest.
Metolius River (John Hutmacher, Deschutes National Forest)
WHY THE METOLIUS?
 
The Oregon legislature first authorized the designation of an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC) as part of the legislation creating the statewide land use program (Senate Bill 100) in 1973.
 
At that time, several areas were identified as possibly warranting state protection in the face of uncontrolled development, including the Columbia River Gorge, areas of the Oregon Coast, and portions of the Metolius basin. Several of these areas were later protected through federal action, or through special state land use goals.
 
While the Metolius area was not immediately protected, Jefferson County did plan most of the basin as forest lands – limiting further development to forest-related uses.
 
In 1988, both the state and federal governments designated the upper portion of the Metolius River as a wild and scenic river. Since that time, in addition to developing management plans for the wild and scenic segment of the river, the U.S. Forest Service has designated the Metolius Conservation Area to limit and guide uses in the area.
 
In 1984, Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) amended Statewide Planning Goal 8 (Recreational Needs) to allow destination resorts on certain lands outside urban growth boundaries, including forest lands.
 
In 2006, Jefferson County adopted amendments to its comprehensive plan, identifying two locations as eligible for destination resorts. One of these areas is entirely within the Metolius River basin, the other is partially within the basin. The county’s decision was appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, which remanded the decision. The appeal is still in progress; now before the Oregon Supreme Court.
 

 
One of the potential resort areas (known as The Metolian, or Dutch Pacific LLC) would have 180 overnight units, and another 450 residences, on approximately 628 acres entirely within the basin. This property is located just north of Suttle Lake, on the north side of Highway 20.
 
The other resort area (known as The Ponderosa) would have 2,500 residences and at least 1,000 overnight units on up to 10,000 acres straddling the Metolius basin boundary. The Ponderosa property is separated from the Metolius River by a long ridge (Green Ridge) that runs north from Black Butte for 16 miles. The Ponderosa property is approximately eight miles north of the City of Sisters.
 
Together, these resorts would increase the number of dwelling and lodging units in and around the basin by a factor of about 15. By comparison, the City of Sisters has approximately 1,100 housing units.


2007 PROPOSED LEGISLATION AND HOUSE BILL 2226 (2009)

In the 2007 Legislature, Senate Bill 30 was introduced to ban destination resort development both within the basin and within a three-mile ring around the basin. That bill passed the Senate, but did not pass in the House. The Governor expressed concerns about Senate Bill 30, but also acknowledged that the unique beauty and resources of the Metolius warranted protection, and asked key state agencies to review whether existing state laws were adequate to protect the basin from large-scale development.
 
After receiving reports from state agencies that existing laws were not sufficient to protect the Metolius River basin, the Governor asked DLCD to draft legislation to prevent resorts within the basin but also to leave open the possibility of resort development outside of the basin, and to provide some means of relief to landowners who are not able to proceed with their plans. [House Bill 2226, introduced]
 
The Governor also asked LCDC and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to work with Jefferson County, other key stakeholders in the area, and the public to designate the basin as an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC) and to develop a proposed management plan designed to protect the basin and to explore opportunities for Jefferson County to continue with its resort planning efforts.
 

THE PROPOSED METOLIUS RIVER BASIN AREA OF CRITICAL STATE CONCERN
The proposed Metolius ACSC process has three objectives:
 
  1. To determine whether destination resorts and other large-scale uses should be prohibited, and if so, within what specific area. In addition, the ACSC could include a buffer or transitional area where resorts are allowed, but only if they meet standards that protect resources within the basin and that avoid significant effects on surrounding areas.
  2. To provide some means for resort development to move forward in Jefferson County, recognizing that Jefferson County has not benefitted from resorts (in terms of jobs and tax base) in the way that neighboring counties have; and
  3. To provide some relief for the owners of the two sites that have been identified as eligible for resort siting, to the extent that they are not allowed to proceed.

PUBLIC PROCESS FOR THE METOLIUS ACSC
At the request of the Governor, LCDC agreed at its January 15, 2009 meeting to initiate the ACSC process. The commission also agreed to hold public meetings (see details below) in Jefferson and Deschutes counties in February, and directed DLCD staff to work with the counties and state agencies to produce materials to help focus public discussion. 
 
LCDC expects to complete its recommendations for the ACSC and the associated management plan at a final commission meeting on March 11, for referral to the 2009 Legislature. Designation of the ACSC by the commission does not take effect unless and until that action is confirmed by the legislature.

KEY QUESTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
LCDC will be seeking public input on the following key questions and alternatives as part of its deliberations on the proposed ACSC:
 
1) Should resorts and other large-scale development be allowed in the Metolius basin?
  • What specific areas should be protected, if any, from large-scale development?
    • Development should be allowed to proceed under current rules?
    • Large-scale development should be prevented in the Upper Metolius basin (what about the portion in Deschutes County)?
    • Large-scale development should be prevented throughout the entire Metolius basin?
    • Large-scale development should be prevented both inside the entire Metolius basin, and in a three-mile buffer area around the basin?
  • If large-scale development is not allowed, what is "large-scale?"
    • Only resorts should be limited?
    • Resorts and subdivisions should be limited?
    • Only developments that are not allowed under current law on forest lands and in unincorporated communities (Camp Sherman) should be limited?
  • Should there be a buffer area around the basin where large-scale development is managed to limit its effects inside the basin? If so:
    • How large should the buffer be?
    • What use limitations should be included?
      • No use limitations should be included?
      • Only very low water use should be allowed (no golf courses)?
      • No adverse effects (or no substantial adverse effects) on water quantity or quality in the (upper/lower) Metolius should be allowed?
      • No adverse effects (or no substantial adverse effects) on water quantity or quality in other watersheds should be allowed (Fly Creek, Whychus Creek, others)?
      • No adverse effects (or no substantial adverse effects) on deer winter range in or around the Metolius should be allowed?
      • No significant adverse effects should be allowed on local roads or state highways?
      • Other adverse effects that should be managed through an ACSC?
2) Should an ACSC assure that Jefferson County may proceed with some destination resort development? If so, where?
 
3) Should an ACSC provide relief to property owners if they are unable to proceed with resort development as a result of the ACSC?
  • If so, what form should relief take?
  • Is a smaller-scale outdoor recreation-oriented resort with a small footprint a concept the state should encourage in other locations?

ABOUT THE METOLIUS RIVER BASIN
The Metolius River basin is located primarily in Jefferson County, with a small portion in Deschutes County. The basin, a sub-basin of the Deschutes River, contains many natural resources:
  • The Metolius River itself, with pristine water quality fed by hydrologically-unique springs;
  • Critical habitat for fish, birds and mammals, and
  • World-famous recreation, angling and scenics areas.
Portions of the basin have received recognition for natural resources through federal and state designations. These include:
  • In 1988, the Metolius River was designated as a National Wild and Scenic River.
  • In 1988, the Metolius River was also designated as a state scenic waterway by the Oregon legislature.
  • In 1990, 86,000 acres of the Metolius River basin were designated as the Metolius Conservation Area by the Deschutes National Forest.
  • The Metolius River basin provides habitat for state-listed threatened and sensitive species (birds, fish, amphibians and mammals).
  • Federally listed threatened species in the basin include the northern spotted owl and the bull trout.
The basin also includes deer winter range habitat, as mapped by Jefferson County under Statewide Planning Goal 5 (Natural Resources, Scenic and Historic Areas and Open Spaces).

MAPS OF THE METOLIUS RIVER BASIN
/lcd/docs/maps/metolius_state_map.jpg
 
 
 
 

WHAT IS AN AREA OF CRITICAL STATE CONCERN?
Since 1973, LCDC has been authorized to recommend an Area of Critical State Concern under state law (ORS 197.405).
 
An ACSC designation identifies an area where potential development conflicts with resources of state importance and establishes a management plan to address those conflicts.
 
The statute is a flexible tool for resolving conflicts in extraordinary places. 

HAS LCDC PREVIOUSLY DESIGNATED AN ACSC?
LCDC exercised that authority once, in 1977, to protect Yaquina Head on the Oregon coast. However, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) purchased the Yaquina Head site before LCDC’s request was reviewed by the legislature. The BLM later named the site the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
 
At the time LCDC was created, along with the authority to designate ACSCs, the commission considered this tool for several areas threatened with uncontrolled development, including the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, and the Metolius area.  The Gorge and the coast were protected through other means, and private lands in the Metolius were designated as forest lands – limiting uses to timber management and a small-scale forest related uses (including a small number of dwellings).

DRAFT MANAGEMENT PLAN

BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS

PHOTOS OF THE METOLIUS RIVER BASIN
NOTE: The links below are provided for convenience and information. Neither the State of Oregon nor the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) endorse or sponsor the products, services or information provided by the links.
 
Headwaters of the Metolius River
http://www.flickr.com/photos/delina/95623825/sizes/o/
 
Metolius River and Mt. Jefferson
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24150334@N08/2449930003/sizes/l/
 
Camp Sherman Store
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dberry/2867456836/sizes/o/
 

PUBLIC HEARINGS
LCDC will hold four public hearings on the designation of the Metolius River Basin as an Area of Critical State Concern.
 

DATECITYLOCATIONTIME
Feb. 11SistersSisters High School
1700 W. McKinney Butte Rd.
5 p.m.
Feb. 12MadrasMadras Senior Center
860 S.W. Madison St.
5 p.m.
Feb. 26MadrasJefferson County Fairgrounds (Maccie Conroy Room)
430 S.W. Fairgrounds Road
5 p.m.
March 11MadrasMadras High School
390 S.E. 10th
5:30 p.m.

SUBMITTING TESTIMONY
WRITTEN TESTIMONY
 
To submit written testimony in advance of the final public hearing on March 11, please do one of the following by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3:
 
E-MAIL
E-mail your testimony to Lisa Howard, or
 
FAX
FAX your testimony to Lisa Howard at (503) 378-5518.  
 
 
ORAL TESTIMONY
 
If you plan to be at a hearing and would like to present oral testimony, please consider the following:

LCDC places great value on testimony from the public. People who wish to testify in person are asked to:
  • Provide 20 copies of any written testimony
  • Recognize that substance, not length, determines the value of testimony
  • Endorse, rather than repeat, testimony of other witnesses with whom you agree
The Chair of the LCDC subcommittee may limit time for testimony on any item and may set time limits (usually 3 minutes) for individual speakers.
 
Thank you for taking the time to present your views.

TESTIMONY SUBMITTED & AUDIO RECORDINGS OF MEETINGS
Testimony Submitted
 

Audio Recordings of Meetings
 

MATERIALS FOR THE HEARINGS